Buffalo Springfield has often been described as America’s answer to The Beatles, an argument which I have never quite understood. Yes the group consisted of five extremely talented young musicians, most notably Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay, Dewey Martin and Bruce Palmer. But in terms of The Beatles, they couldn’t have been more different. It would be like comparing The Band as the equivalent to Cream. In other words, neither outfits had anything in common other than the fact that they made great music.
Springfield’s debut contained a couple of quality numbers courtesy of Neil Young, notably “Flying On The Ground Is Wrong” and “Nowadays Even Clancy Can’t Sing”, although it was Stills’ moody and atmospheric “For What It’s Worth” that would convince the public of their formidable power, and help propel them into the charts. It was also a song which seemed to capture the ever growing change in youth culture.
Buffalo Springfield Again is a mix of rock, country, and soul, along with a slight tab or two of psychedelia. Is it one of the finest albums of its era? Well, we’ll just have to press play and find out.
The record gets off to solid a start with “Mr Soul”, the main riff of which was clearly inspired by The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”, although the three guitar interplay is truly unique, full of driving bass and some backward overdubs, along with Neil Young’s disturbed vocals. “A Child’s Claim To Fame”, by Richie Furay, has the band in full on country mode, and while not quite my cup of tea, there is some lovely dobro playing (courtesy of Presley sessionman James Burton) to settle the listener’s stomach. But all is forgiven with Stills’ “Everydays”, a fine track, on which the guitarist unveils his penchant for Latin-jazz arrangements. Young responds with “Expecting To Fly”, a song fraught with nauseous keyboards and Cathedral-like orchestrations by Jack Nitzsche.
Stills’ “Bluebird” gives the listener a clue as to his future days with CSN, followed by the soulful, rocking “Hung Upside Down”, another Stills tune, before Furay’s mawkish “Sad Memory” throws a bucket of water on the fire. Dewey Martin sings lead vocals on the Otis Redding influenced “Good Time Boy”, while Stills reignites the flames on “Rock ‘n’ Roll Woman”, dedicated to Rita Coolidge, a song which starts off slow but builds to a highly combustible guitar solo. We close with Young’s “Broken Arrow”, one of the most cynical rock songs ever written, at least for 1967. The song experiences multiple changes, as if one were almost watching a movie. It was definitely one of Neil’s most ambitious, and a strong indicator of where he later headed.
Like their first album, Buffalo Springfield Again failed to reach Ahmet Ertegun’s Atlantic Records’ expectations, despite having performed at The Monterey Pop Festival. Tension between Stills and Young was also a problem, soon resulting in the band parting ways. But not before one final LP, Last Time Around, a record far superior than posterity has often written.