Crosby, Stills & Nash
First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2006, Volume 13, #1
Written by John Metzger
After the success of its self-titled debut, Crosby, Stills & Nash struggled mightily with its demons, and by 1982, when the ensemble finally saw fit to issue its third studio effort Daylight Again, its past had caught up with its present. David Crosby’s notorious battle with drug addiction meant that he played a minimal role in the outing, which actually had begun as a collaboration between Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, and for a group that frequently squabbled over issues of control, the trio found it necessary to work with an array of outsiders in order to bring its material to fruition. Most egregiously, Stills shared credit with a host of songwriters, and Art Garfunkel, keyboard player Michael Finnigan, and The Eagles’ Timothy B. Schmit were brought on board to augment what had been Crosby, Stills & Nash’s defining strength: its peerless harmonies. Considering that an inescapable ’80s ambience also pervaded the set, it’s safe to say that the collection didn’t contain the band’s finest moments.
At its worst, Daylight Again featured seriously dated arrangements as well as flat, uninspired performances, but buried inside its sterile environment were a handful of gems that almost succeeded in transcending the outing’s overly glossy sheen. The singles, in particular, were well-chosen highlights as Nash’s Wasted on the Way dreamily took stock of the group’s dysfunctional status, while Stills’ Southern Cross vaguely echoed the air of regret within his tale of a post-divorce sailing excursion. Crosby’s lone contribution (Delta) was issued as a B-side, and despite the surrounding polish, his desperate plea for help was undeniably palpable. Elsewhere, Nash’s Song for Susan — which had been written seven years earlier but had become a casualty of the ensemble’s infighting — faintly mirrored the radiant beauty captured on CSN, and in another time and space, it might have become something greater; Crosby’s cover of Craig Doerge’s Might as Well Have a Good Time was a rare moment of clarity as well as a soulfully delivered reminder of the sad state of his life; and the final, apparition-filled pairing of the title track with a reprise of Find the Cost of Freedom not only was the best selection on the endeavor, but it also was a chilling reminder of the power that Crosby, Stills & Nash still was capable of wielding when it was focused. Not surprisingly, the quartet of bonus tracks that grace Daylight Again largely suffer the same fate as the album itself, though Crosby’s stark, bare-bones interpretation of Might as Well Have a Good Time is beautifully devastating.
Daylight Again is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box