February 03, 2009
Pop/Rock, Psychedelic, British Invasion, Folk-Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Soft Rock, Album Rock

Album Review

He's been part of two huge-selling international superstar rock groups, and recorded some very popular albums on his own and with David Crosby. Yet Graham Nash has never been thought of as a talent in his own right the way that, to varying degrees, either of his three bandmates in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young have. This three-CD, 64-track box set can be seen as both a way of focusing the spotlight on Nash's work both within and outside of his famous bands, and also as a career retrospective of sorts, spanning as it does about 40 years of recordings. Like almost all such box sets, however, it won't be as balanced as everyone would like between his various career phases and contexts, or contain as much in the way of revelatory rarities as some would hope. To start with the set's strengths, certainly it includes virtually all of the material for which Nash is most known as a songwriter, and to some degree as a lead singer. All of the major songs he wrote as part of CSN (or CSNY) are here in their celebrated official versions, prominent among them "Marrakesh Express," "Pre-Road Downs," "Our House," and "Teach Your Children." So is his sole Top 40 hit single, "Chicago"; highlights from his first/best/most commercially successful solo album, Songs for Beginners; and numerous tracks from his collaborative efforts with Crosby. The 150-page booklet has lots of photos and insightful comments on each track by Nash himself.
It should be noted, however, that although half of cuts are previously unreleased, about two-thirds of these are alternate mixes of officially issued tracks, not actual alternate versions or recordings previously unavailable in any form. Among the genuinely alternate versions/previously unreleased recordings, only a 1969 solo acoustic demo of "Right Between the Eyes" rates as a notable find, though a live 1993 version of "Liar's Nightmare" (with Nils Lofgren on guitar) and the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack contribution "Love Is the Reason" count as interesting rarities. Even considering that he didn't have sole songwriting credits until joining CSN, the Hollies period seems underrepresented, with just three tracks by that group finding inclusion (all 1967 hits, including the one on which Nash's songwriting ambitions were most evident, "King Midas in Reverse"). And there's no denying that disc one, with the highlights of his late-'60s/early-'70s work, is by far the best of the three CDs, much of the rest coming off as undistinguished in comparison. It's the music on the first disc for which Nash will mostly be remembered. His subsequent output, as documented on the remainder of the set, was too often ordinary soft rock that, unlike his earlier work, did not capture either the musical or cultural Zeitgeist. It's also true that, for CSN fans in particular, it can seem odd hearing so much Nash-dominated material at once when it works so much better interspersed with the compositions and lead singing of his famous bandmates. Nevertheless, as a songwriter he remained consistently devoted to themes of peace, progressive politics, and adult romance, even when those weren't fashionable to promote as idealistically as Nash has. For all its ups and downs, this is the release likely to most effectively spotlight and summarize the contributions to rock music that he's made as a singer/songwriter.
Richie Unterberger, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. On a Carousel
  2. On a Carousel
  3. Carrie Anne
  4. Carrie Anne
  5. King Midas in Reverse
  6. King Midas In Reverse
  7. Marakesh Express
  8. Marrakesh Express
  9. Pre-Road Downs
  10. Pre-Road Downs
  11. Lady of the Island
  12. Lady of the Island
  13. Our Hourse
  14. Our House
  15. Teach Your Children
  16. Teach Your Children
  17. Right Between the Eyes
  18. Right Between the Eyes
  19. I Used To Be a King
  20. I Used to Be a King
  21. Simple Man
  22. Simple Man
  23. Man In the Mirror
  24. Man in the Mirror
  25. Better Days
  26. Better Days
  27. Military Madness
  28. Military Madness
  29. Sleep Song
  30. Sleep Song
  31. Medley: Chicago/We Can Change the World
  32. Chicago/We Can Change the World
  33. Southbound Train
  34. Southbound Tain
  35. Immigration Man
  36. Immigration Man
  37. Wild Tales
  38. Wild Tales
  39. Prison Song
  40. Prison Song
  41. Oh! Camil (The Winter Soldier)
  42. Oh ! Camil (the Winter Soldier)
  43. On the Line
  44. On the Line
  45. You'll Never Be the Same
  46. You'll Never Be the Same
  47. Another Sleep Song
  48. Another Sleep Song
  49. To the Last Whale: Critical Mass/Wind on the Water
  50. To the Last Whale: Critical Mass/Wind On the Water
  51. Fieldworker
  52. Fieldworker
  53. Cowboy of Dreams
  54. Cowboy of Dreams
  55. Love Work Out
  56. Love Work Out
  57. Marguerita
  58. Marguerita
  59. Taken At All
  60. Taken at All
  61. Mutiny
  62. Mutiny
  63. Just a Song Before I Go
  64. Just a Song Before I Go
  65. Cold Rain
  66. Cold Rain
  67. Cathedral
  68. Cathedral
  69. Barrel of Pain (Half-Life)
  70. Barrel of Pain (Half 4-Life)
  71. Magical Child
  72. Magical Child
  73. Song for Susan
  74. Song For Susan
  75. Wasted On the Way
  76. Wasted on the Way
  77. Love Is the Reason
  78. Love is the Reason
  79. Raise a Voice
  80. Raise a Voice
  81. Clear Blue Skies
  82. Clear Blue Skies
  83. Lonely Man
  84. Lonely Man
  85. Sad Eyes
  86. Sad Eyes
  87. Water From the Moon
  88. Water from the Moon
  89. Soldiers of Peace
  90. Soldiers of Peace
  91. If Anybody Had a Heart
  92. If Anybody Had a Heart
  93. Chippin' Away
  94. Chippin' Away
  95. After the Dolphin
  96. After the Dolphin
  97. House of Broken Dreams
  98. House of Broken Dreams
  99. Unequal Love
  100. Unequal Love
  101. Liar's Nightmare
  102. Liar's Nightmare
  103. Heartland
  104. Heartland
  105. These Empty Days
  106. These Empty Days
  107. Try To Find Me
  108. Try to Find Me
  109. Two Hearts
  110. Two Hearts
  111. Behind the Shades
  112. Behind the Shades
  113. Michael (Hedges Here)
  114. Michael (Hedges Here)
  115. I Surrender
  116. I Surrender
  117. Live On (The Wall)
  118. Live On (the Wall)
  119. Dirty Little Secret
  120. Dirty Little Secret
  121. We Breathe the Same Air
  122. We Breathe the Same Air
  123. Grace
  124. Grace
  125. Jesus of Rio
  126. Jesus of Rio
  127. In Your Name
  128. In Your Name