Friday, August 02, 2019

Buffalo Springfield - Again (Remastered Mono/Stereo Album US 1967)

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The entire Buffalo Springfield saga lasted just a little over 24 months. It began with a chance encounter in early 1966 when Stephen Stills and Richie Furay were driving down the Sunset Strip and happened to see Neil Young and Bruce Palmer driving a hearse headed down the street in the opposite direction.

Stills, who briefly met Young the prior year at a Canadian folk club, waved at them to pull over. Within a matter of weeks, they recruited drummer Dewey Martin and were gigging at clubs up and down the Strip as Buffalo Springfield.

By the time of their farewell show at the Sports Arena in Long Beach, California, on May 5th, 1968, they’d recorded three albums, gone through an absurd number of lineup changes and suffered through more drama than bands that lasted decades longer. 

Neil Young has maintained for years that the group sounded far better in concert than on record, even though they never had the foresight to professionally tape any of the shows. A 2001 box set overseen by Young and Stills attempted to present the band’s recorded output in the best possible light, but this year Young and engineer John Hanlon gave it another shot for the new collection 

What’s That Sound? The set contains all three albums with dramatically improved full bass sound (the first two LPs are presented in stereo and mono) and will be available via streaming services and five-LP or five-CD packages. It arrives on June 29th, 2018.

“It’s the Greatest Buffalo Springfield collection ever,” Young wrote on his website. “Remastered from the original analog tapes, it’s guaranteed to sound better than any earlier edition of this great and influential music. NYA [Neil Young Archives] was overseeing the remastering process. I have heard it and this is the best it can be! It sounds amazing! If you love Buffalo Springfield, this is the ultimate collection to have.”

While on a short break from his co-headlining tour with Judy Collins, Stephen Stills called us up to look back on his time in the band.

What do you think about this new set?
I gotta say that I think they did it when they were free and I was off with Judy the last time. They forgot to to tell me. The first I heard of it was when I got the notice that you were going to interview me last night.

You haven’t heard it?
No. I have not. They will have it in my hands shortly. I heard they fought with the first album a lot because, basically, we had four tracks and four knobs. Engineers back then at Gold Star and places like that were very conservative and they wouldn’t push the equipment. The Beatles did OK with four tracks and we were trying, but we found our best mixes back then to be the mono. When Neil and [producer/engineer] John Hanlon tried to spread it out they ran into some very strange separations.

Do you think the first album sounds better in mono or stereo?
I’ll be able to tell you in a couple of days when I hear it. The thing was, I went up to the rehearsal of the Buffalo Springfield get-together [in 2010] and they were playing the record. I walked in and it was appallingly fast. I couldn’t believe it. I said, “I can’t listen to that!” Pro Tools has a thing in it where you can feed the record into and slow it down without changing the record a bit, plus it does really wonderful things to the bass. I hope they employed that because songs like “Go and Say Goodbye” and the shuffle called “Leave” got really heavy and Stones-y because that’s the way we played it live, but we went into the studio and [drummer] Dewey [Martin] counted everything off and Dewey was from Nashville, so you do the math. [Laughs]

Were you aware of the problems with the record when you were making it?
We were so excited to actually be in a studio that we didn’t really notice until the record was on the way out. Then we were like, “Oh, my God, everything is so fast. This doesn’t sound like us.” It sounded really fast and perky. Neil got his ballads right, but “Mr. Soul” when you take it down a little bit, oh, my God. You hear Bruce [Palmer]’s bass part and it just thunders; it’s like Steppenwolf.

Was part of the problem that the record was produced by your two managers and they didn’t know what they were doing?
Yes. We had Charles Green and Brian Stone, who basically were hustlers. They kind of got people in the studio and let them do their thing and if it happened to be a hit, they’d take all the a credit even though it was really Sonny Bono. [Green and Stone also managed Sonny & Cher.] They just stood around and made phone calls. It led to such things as Tom Petty cutting the telephone wire in that great documentary. I felt like doing that so many times.

Right, they weren’t really producers.
Right. Thank god Ahmet [Ertegun] came in to a session and saw us warming up to do our thing and heard something and he was the first one to spot it. He came back and said, “What happened to that wonderful thing I heard in the studio? Where is it? I hear the same song, but did you get different guys?” It was hilarious and a good lesson, too.

Tell me the main lesson you learned from making the first record.
[Engineer] Bruce Botnick, who Neil found through Jack Nitzsche, taught us all about echo and tuning the chambers. You could make up for a world of stuff with that. It was L.A. in the mid-1960s and everything was perky. They hadn’t gotten the heaviness of a laid-back groove like the Stones or even some Beatles stuff, which never really rushed. We were all rushed. The good news is there’s an easy fix where you slow everything down five beats per minute. I just covered it. It was an idea that popped into my head and it was amazing. That’s why I play “For What It’s Worth” slower now and “Mr. Soul” just thunders if you don’t count it off too fast.

How different did the band sound in concert than on record?
We were more relaxed and there was people [in the audience] and we found the pocket. Bruce and I would lead us to the pocket. Richie [Furay] is a country guy, so he was automatically a little on top of it. We had a little Keith Richards–Charlie Watts thing where he’s a little on top of it and I’m a little behind. That’s why it worked so well. My style was something I picked up in Latin America and Bruce just had it the minute we started playing together. It was really tragic that nobody had the foresight to take care of the immigration details. [Palmer, a Canadian citizen, was deported in January of 1967, and even though he eventually returned it hobbled the group at a crucial juncture.] It was very easy. It didn’t cost much. You got this cash cow and you’ve got them out on the road, why don’t you go to the State Department and arrange for the H-1 [visa] before everyone got in trouble?

Do you regret that you didn’t tape some of the concerts?
Yeah. The best sound we ever got was when we did this stupid TV show where we played just a little bit of a song and we were like, “Oh, my God, that’s the sound we’ve been looking for.” [In October 1967, the group played “Bluebird” and “For What It’s Worth” on the CBS detective show Mannix.] It was the only place we could get that sound right.

Do you see the band as something that didn’t reach its potential?
I never figured that Neil was going to stay there. He was a frontman when I met him, but we got together better than I ever expected. It was very hard. I just so totally understood it. I can’t regret it. I have no regrets. It took me a long time to even get close to him lyrically, but there are a few pieces there and we love playing together so much that it’s funny. It’s just getting a rhythm section that fits our groove. I almost want to go to Mick [Jagger] and say, “Can we borrow Charlie?” [Laughs]

Open picture in a new window for 100% size
I actually had Bill [Wyman] on a Manassas record. He was actually tired of the travel, really. It was hilarious. We got [bassist] Fuzzy [Calvin Samuels] back into the country, but Bill was already there. He came down and played a couple of things. And then Fuzzy walked in and Bill said, “Am I fired?” in that dry wit that he had. I said, “No, you’re already in a band. I’m just lucky enough to have you come and sit in.” But there were so many miscues and misinterpretations back then. We were all young and energetic and talking through our asses. I can say something that was totally friendly and somehow by the time it reached the other side of the room, it was immensely cruel. It was probably something I inherited from my sarcastic father.

Do you think if Buffalo Springfield had kept going you could have been a huge commercial force in the Seventies?
We would have maybe slugged it out, but we had a couple of built-in problems that may not have survived. But we were tough. Bruce warned me about Steppenwolf. He told me they were coming to town and he said, “Now this bass player is b-a-d. Wait until you hear them play. You want to hear how much further we can go?” Then they broke into their song and I went, “Holy Toledo!” We were that tough when we were on and Dewey was calm and Richie’s guitar was in the right place. We could get there, but we would get too excited or have a bunch of business BS right before the show and we’d go out there and literally run through everything.

But there were nights like at Ondine’s New York and the Fillmore … I actually credit Ralph Gleason for breaking us. He understood exactly what we were trying to do and he nailed it bit-by-bit and was completely unimpressed with the star-star bullshit. He treated me like a musician and Neil like a musician and he heard us for a couple of nights. When Bill [Graham] finally had us up [at the Fillmore in November of 1966], Ralph wrote a half-page article about us in the entertainment section of the Chronicle before Rolling Stone existed. My mom was just over the moon. And so was my sister who was a big jazz freak and so I was because at least someone somewhere understood what I was trying to do.

It’s incredible the band lasted just a little over two years.
This is show business. People gather around you like flies and they’ve all got opinions. I saw this so many times where there were schisms within the posse and the posse would actually break up the group! This one hung out with this one and you had to be really strong and a little insensitive to keep that away from you. In show business all these guys are on the make. It’s like TV. In the beginnings when people realize how much money could be made, the strip was crawling with posers. “Oh, I’m a manager!”

How do you feel when you listen to the music now?
When I play it, I don’t want to hear it anymore. I want to go hear what it sounds like live. The whole business of learning the song in the studio, by the time I was 30 I learned that was absurd. I was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars making records. Only the Rolling Stones could pull that off. They could just play forever and then find the bit that was great, like “Start Me Up.”

That first Buffalo Springfield album, if I remember, there was a lot of vocal harmonizing in the background that was too loud. It was a bit reminiscent of the Turtles. It needed air. When I play them now I leave them as much air as I can possibly manage, but before we learned how to play there was strumming and tapping.

The band reunited for a brief tour in 2011. Might that ever happen again?
I have no idea. I have no idea. Neil has his agenda and I have mine. I’m really enjoying making friends with Judy [Collins] again. She’s the best partner I ever had since she’s such a good sport and she very gentle and lets me know when I’m getting a little far. The guys [in the band] are such pros; they all read [music] and everything, so when you ask to try something they get it with two run-throughs and it’s perfect. It’s an incredibly refreshing way to go.

Are you still working on your memoir?
Yes. I am. I’m trying to figure out how to skip and get me … the circumstances that lead me to California were so myriad. It had to do with the Modern Folk Quartet and [music manager] Herb Cohen, Lenny Bruce and Peter Tork. … I’m starting out in a linear fashion. It has been good therapy, but the pressure is on. I’m not getting any younger. I really need to get [the story] to New York and get into the whole MFQ [Modern Folk Quartet] situation and the [college vocal group the Augmented Seven of Yale] that took me from New Orleans to New York.

Then my mother won the lottery and so I went back to New Orleans and me and my little sister found out that the Beatles were playing at [San Francisco’s] the Cow Palace [on August 31st, 1965] and so we waited for everyone to go to sleep and then it was a 100 miles per house across the western United States. And we made it! I got tickets. They weren’t that good, but I got tickets and we went and it was a life-changer. Paul McCartney was on fire that night. He’s so much more than anything. He’s one of my gods. It took me a long time to get relaxed enough around him to open up and we became quite friendly. He’s so gracious that it’s disarming sometimes. But tough enough. Boy, nothing will toughen you up like playing in Germany.

But getting back to Buffalo Springfield, I’m glad the music is getting out. Flawed as it is, it’s really genuine. There’s no posing. There was a lot of ambition and we were really young. We were surrounded by a lot of very ambitious people. I do miss Bruce though, God. He was so wise and such a great player. Also, “For What It’s Worth” is still pertinent, shamefully so. I thought it should be forgotten by now. OK, I’ve about talked myself out to the point where I’m about to step into a cow pie. I’ll stop. 

Buffalo Springfield's discography received the complete box set treatment in 2001, with a four-disc set filled with previously unreleased demos, alternate takes, and other rarities. In contrast, What's That Sound: The Complete Albums Collection attempts to restore the discography to how it was heard upon its original release. Whether in its vinyl or CD incarnation, it serves up both the stereo and mono versions of 1966's Buffalo Springfield and 1967's Buffalo Springfield Again, along with the stereo version of 1968's Last Time Around. Neil Young supervised the remastering, so the audio is on par with his acclaimed Original Release Series, and the packaging has been replicated, resulting in the rare complete box set that offers a considerable bang for the buck.

Due in part to personnel problems which saw Bruce Palmer and Neil Young in and out of the group, Buffalo Springfield's second album did not have as unified an approach as their debut. Yet it doesn't suffer for that in the least -- indeed, the group continued to make major strides in both their songwriting and arranging, and this record stands as their greatest triumph. Stephen Stills' "Bluebird" and "Rock & Roll Woman" were masterful folk-rockers that should have been big hits (although they did manage to become small ones); his lesser-known contributions "Hung Upside Down" and the jazz-flavored "Everydays" were also first-rate. Young contributed the Rolling Stones-derived "Mr. Soul," as well as the brilliant "Expecting to Fly" and "Broken Arrow," both of which employed lush psychedelic textures and brooding, surrealistic lyrics that stretched rock conventions to their breaking point. 

Richie Furay (who had not written any of the songs on the debut) takes tentative songwriting steps with three compositions, although only "A Child's Claim to Fame," with its memorable dobro hooks by James Burton, meets the standards of the material by Stills and Young; the cut also anticipates the country-rock direction of Furay's post-Springfield band, Poco. Although a slightly uneven record that did not feature the entire band on several cuts, the high points were so high and plentiful that its classic status cannot be denied.

Buffalo Springfield Again (Mono) & (Stereo)

Stephen Stills — vocals, guitars, keyboards
Neil Young — vocals, guitars
Richie Furay — vocals, rhythm guitar
 Bruce Palmer — bass guitar
 Dewey Martin — vocals, drums

01. Mr. Soul     02:35
Lead Guitar – Neil Young
Lead Vocals – Neil Young
Rhythm Guitar – Richie Furay, Stephen Stills
Vocals – Richie Furay, Stephen Stills
Written-By – Neil Young

02. A Child's Claim To Fame     02:09
Bass – Bruce Palmer
Dobro – James Burton
Drums – Dewey Martin
Engineer [Engineering] – Ross Myering*
Guitar – Neil Young, Richie Furay, Stephen Stills
Lead Vocals – Richie Furay
Producer [Production] – Richie Furay
Vocals – Neil Young, Stephen Stills
Written-By – Richie Furay

03. Everydays     02:38
Bass – Jim Fielder
Drums – Dewey Martin
Guitar [(humm)] – Neil Young
Lead Vocals – Stephen Stills
Piano – Stephen Stills
Producer [Production] – Ahmet Ertegun, Neil Young, Stephen Stills
Rhythm Guitar – Richie Furay
Vocals – Richie Furay
Written-By – Stephen Stills

04. Expecting To Fly     03:39
Electric Piano – Jack Nitzsche
Engineer [Engineering] – Bruce Botnick
Grand Piano – Don Randi
Producer, Arranged By – Jack Nitzsche, Neil Young
Vocals – Neil Young, Richie Furay
Written-By – Neil Young

05. Bluebird     04:28
Banjo – Charlie Chin
Bass – Bobby West
Co-producer – Ahmet Ertegun
Drums – Dewey Martin
Engineer – Bruce Botnick
Guitar – Neil Young, Richie Furay, Stephen Stills
Producer – Stephen Stills
Vocals – Richie Furay, Stephen Stills
Written-By – Stephen Stills

06. Hung Upside Down     03:24
Bass – Bruce Palmer
Drums – Dewey Martin
Engineer [Engineering] – Jim Messina
Guitar – Neil Young, Richie Furay
Guitar [fuzz] – Stephen Stills
Lead Vocals – Stephen Stills
Lead Vocals, Vocals – Richie Furay
Organ – Stephen Stills
Producer [Production] – Stephen Stills
Vocals – Neil Young
Written-By – Stephen Stills

07. Sad Memory     03:00
Engineer – William Brittan
Engineer [lead guitar] – Bill Lazarus
Guitar – Richie Furay
Lead Guitar – Neil Young
Producer [Production] – Richie Furay
Written-By – Richie Furay

08. Good Time Boy     02:11
Arranged By – The Horn Section Of The American Soul Train
Bass – Bruce Palmer
Drums – Dewey Martin
Executive-Producer – Richie Furay
Guitar – Stephen Stills
Vocals – Dewey Martin
Written-By – Richie Furay

09. Rock & Roll Woman     02:44
Bass – Bruce Palmer
Drums – Dewey Martin
Electric Piano – Stephen Stills
Guitar – Neil Young, Richie Furay, Stephen Stills
Lead Vocals – Stephen Stills
Organ – Stephen Stills
Producer [Production] – Neil Young, Stephen Stills
Vocals – Neil Young, Richie Furay
Written-By – Stephen Stills

10. Broken Arrow     06:13
Bass – Bruce Palmer
Drums – Dewey Martin
Engineer – Jim Messina
Guitar – Chris Sarns, Richie Furay, Stephen Stills
Piano – Don Randi
Producer [Production] – Neil Young
Vocals – Neil Young, Richie Furay
Written-By – Neil Young

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 Enjoy the brand new remastering w. full bass etc. for the first time. (Neil Young)