Crosby, Stills & Nash - Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)

Crosby, Stills & Nash are a folk-rock 'supergroup', made up of David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. They are sometimes joined by occasional fourth member Neil Young.

The roots of folk-rock's first supergroup goes back to the genre's first popular group - The Byrds. David Crosby had been a founding member of The Byrds, where he sang harmony and played rhythm guitar. However as he began to develop as a songwriter and artistic force in his own right he started to fall out with the rest of the group. After five albums, he was dismissed from the band in Autumn 1967. Buffalo Springfield, another top folk-rock group from L.A., had fallen apart by 1968, leaving guitarist/singer/songwriter Stephen Stills at a loose end. Stills and Crosby were already friends, as both their bands had toured together, and they began to jam in '68. They decided to form a group together, and the trio was filled out by Englishman Graham Nash. Nash was a member of British group The Hollies, but he had begun to grow creatively frustrated, and was eager to embrace the changing musical directions happening in America. He left the Hollies, and folk-rock's first supergroup was formed - Crosby, Stills & Nash (otherwise knows as CSN). They were not just a band, but a coalition of three already successful musicians, each a skilled songwriter and talented singer in his own right. As all three of them were already famous, expectations were high, and when their self-titled debut album came out it did not disappoint.
What made it so unique were the vocal harmonies - the sound of the three of them singing together made for something truly magical. Built on a bed-rock of acoustic folk-rock, their harmonies took the genre to places it hadn't been before. All three of them brought their own unique songwriting styles - Stills fused folk, country and blues together in a rock context and produced archetypal CSN songs ("Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", "You Don't Have To Cry", "Helplessly Hoping", "49 Bye-Byes"), whilst the other two contributed the polar extremes of this sound. Crosby wrote the surreal, dream-like "Guinnevere", whilst Nash produced the melodic radio-friendly "Marrakesh Express". "Wooden Ships" was authored by Stills, Crosby and Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner, and the Airplane recorded their own version the same year on their Volunteers album.
This debut album was very much dominated by Stills. He played almost all the instruments himself (acoustic and electric guitars, bass, organ and percussion), apart from the drums which were played by Dallas Taylor, and it is his songs which define the CSN sound best. However without Crosby & Nash it would never have been anywhere near as special. The album rocketed the three of them to the very top of the American rock & roll counter-culture, reaching #6 on the charts. In their long career together (on and off throughout the years, but still working together to this day), their classic first album has never been bettered.

|> Deja Vu (1970)
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