1971, Music

4 Way Street (1971) by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

When I was young, I was told by various reviews that this was one of the great classic rock live albums of the early ’70s and I was enticed by the talk of guitar duels.

Well, this is a bloated, oddly sequenced thing. It starts off with group acoustic performances, then solo performances by all four – there is no pattern, it jumps through their solo and group sets at random – then an electric set by all four. Is this how the sets went? (I doubt it!) If so, it doesn’t feel organic on record; it’s very clear these are all from different parts of the tour and they were just taking what was salvageable.

The acoustic performances are mostly rote renditions. The only one who departs from straight up versions is Stills, and his medley is so unbelievably obnoxious – he is definitely one of those singers that I would have absolutely despised had I seen him live, I mean the man is self-righteous to a degree I’m not sure I could imagine – that it ruins his willingness to take musical risks. In fact, the blowing hard of both Crosby and Stills make Nash refreshing, and this is coming from someone who really doesn’t like Nash as a songwriter. (I find Nash so superficial, but Crosby’s lyrics and Stills’ personality make Nash’s whimsy a breath of fresh air.)

There is some great guitar playing in the “duels” section, especially when Stills starts trying to play like Neil – that’s my favourite part of the record. But it takes an awful long time to get there and the duels are surrounded by meh electric versions of their songs.

This record is certainly emblematic of ’70s tours (and CSNY’s in particular) but that doesn’t make it a classic.

6/10

  1. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (Stephen Stills) 0:33
  2. “On the Way Home” (Neil Young) 3:19
  3. “Teach Your Children” (Graham Nash) 2:46
  4. “Triad” (David Crosby) 5:07
  5. “The Lee Shore” (David Crosby) 4:14
  6. “Chicago” (Graham Nash) 3:03
  7. “Right Between the Eyes” (Graham Nash) 2:19
  8. “Cowgirl in the Sand” (Neil Young) 3:50
  9. “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” (Neil Young) 2:35
  10. “49 Bye-Byes/America’s Children” (Stephen Stills) 4:07
  11. “Love the One You’re With” (Stephen Stills) 2:57
  12. “King Midas In Reverse” (Graham Nash, Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks) 3:43
  13. “Laughing” (David Crosby) 3:36
  14. “Black Queen” (Stephen Stills) 6:45
  15. “Medley: The Loner/Cinnamon Girl/Down by the River” (Neil Young) 9:41
  16. “Pre-Road Downs” (Graham Nash) 2:48
  17. “Long Time Gone” (David Crosby) 5:33
  18. “Southern Man” (Neil Young) 13:15
  19. “Ohio” (Neil Young) 3:24
  20. “Carry On” (Stephen Stills) 13:06
  21. “Find the Cost of Freedom” (Stephen Stills) 2:16
  • David Crosby – vocals, guitar
  • Stephen Stills – vocals, guitar, piano, organ
  • Graham Nash – vocals, guitar, piano, organ
  • Neil Young – vocals, guitar
  • Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels – bass
  • Johnny Barbata – drums

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