30 August 2009, Stuart @ 8:53 am
Everybody Here Can Be In The Band (Mainstream-63)
Wally Heider’s studio, San Francisco, CA – 1971
Tampalpais High (At About 3), Cowboy Movie, The Mountain Song (version 1), Jam, The Wall Song (verson 1), Music Is Love, The Mountain Song (version 2), Loser, Guitar Jam, The Wall Song (version 2), Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)
The first solo album from Byrds stalwart David Crosby was recorded at Wally Heiders San Fransisco studio in mid 1970. coming at a time when his current band CSN (&Y) were going through a hiatus of sorts, as Crosby’s star was ascending & after the death of Crosby’s girlfriend Christine Hinton. these factors coupled with the end of the sixties & the dream that it brought ( Manson, Altamont, Kent State & the deaths of Hendrix, Joplin & Brian Jones ) then David was almost certain to be confused on the direction that such an album might take. That it might become a minor classic despite the pain & anguish should come as no surprise as it had quite a stellar supporting cast. rounding up his friends & “family” ( his CSN&Y contemporaries, members of the Greatful Dead – Jerry Garcia was working down the hall mixing American Beauty -, Jefferson Airplane & Santana ) David set about the task of composing the album – how it turned out was more by accident than by design as most of the tracks were actually improvised or if they had actually been worked at then sounded, as Graham Nash noted like a ” .. Perfect organic listening experience”. the record was produced under rather loose conditions by Stephen Barncard who listened to what David had to play & decided that the way it should be recorded was how it was played. straight off the bat and given it’s own room to formulate. the band would jam through licks in my the same way that CSN&Y would have done while recording their eponymous album creating many songs in the way of, as David describes them, “A joyous accident”.
this CD is almost a pure archive affair with only 4 of the 11 featured tracks actually appearing on the completed album. many more from these sessions exist ( at least 2 boots are found on the internet but with no real label information ) but Mainstream seem to have stuck with a single CD. given it’s kudos though these are stereo studio tapes. just as polished sounding as the songs that would have appeared on the album & certainly sounding better than the first edition of the CD when it was initially released. The first track on this Mainstream CD is “Tamalpais High ( at about 3)” the title coming from the salacious fact that Crosby & his buddies would sit outside Tamalpais High School at around that time & watch the school girls leave. it’s a rather angry sounding song & seems to lend it’s tone to the darker side of the album. longer than it’s official counterpart it features a deep & rasping guitar line & a mumbled manta underneath it’s production. it’s usually noted that some albums have a “season”. “If I Could Only Remember My Name .. ” seems to have a wet Saturday afternoon vibe – specified by this very song. Next up is “Cowboy Movie” akin to a long train ride the way it seems to sway back & forth & repeat, David is in fine voice here – a clarion call against a possible break up ( although David has mentioned at – in metaphors – that it’s about the break up of CSNY.) In the middle Jerry Garcia cuts in with a searing guitar line akin to John Lennon’s Cold Turkey & the raw guitar line that Eric Clapton brings to that.
the first version of “The Mountain Song” appears next -a track that never actually made the final cut & a plaintive call to nature & in someways a need for release. a desire to get away from it all. one could somewhat drift away to this song. The old familiar harmonies are here sung by the cast that were coming throughout the sessions, someone ( Garcia? ) also picks up a banjo & weaves a line throughout the song giving the tune a homely feel one that would cast you through to the woods & the peace of the rickety shacks that the band & the rest of the players would reside in & swop war stories, put the world to rights & share ‘cigarettes’.
Another from the archives follows next. Titled simply “Jam” – it’s a slow, meandering, instrumental dirge. a grope in the dark to see what might appear & a chance for the musicians to show their chops. Garcia again seems to take the man stage bending a solid guitar line through the track. it’s 14 & a half minute duration might a little much for most maybe the true disciples of the album might bet a line on it but at this length it’s around 13 minutes too long. Better & sharper is the first version of “The Wall Song” that follows. A “real” song at least & more of the famous harmonies. It would once again seem to point out the disharmonious relationship between the members of CSNY or it may be a marked jab at politicians. the songs ends with a delightful tinkle of the keys as it seems to fall apart
The next song should be familiar to all the listeners of this album as it’s the leader song on the CV it features no real difference to it’s official counterpart & is shorter by a second than the version on the official CD. it still retains it’s charm though – heavily improvised in the sessions & one of the sweeter songs on the album.
The second version of the Mountain song follows with a great scat harmony by Graham Nash. this is a composite of at least two takes – the first a mid-way run through of the full band take breaking down when some breaks a string only to pick up at the start of another take where the band slowly drift in one by one starting with acoustic guitars only & then adding piano, banjo, etc .. this one comes to a more natural finish with a little studio chat about how the songs working. Another archive song “Loser”. This one is still a work in progress beginning with a warm-up tuning session it’s a near instrumental piece at fist as David ad-libs the words he’s written. There are a couple of false starts to this as the band work out the chord structure & then as an appropriate sound has been captured, someone runs through how the chords run & then David goes through the words properly. Only to stop again for a minor fine tuning & then carries on. This is again another heartfelt song that describes the pain that David seems to be feeling. seemingly unsure about where the lyrics are heading he once again improvises more where he feels that he needs to fill in or polish up.
The second jam appears next – less lengthy than the first jam at only 4:48 & is named “Guitar Jam” – a spanish flavored piece with a meandering bass line running throughout. Only the guitarist seems to know where to go with this one as the bass plods on rather slowly behind scratching around for some sort of groove on which to cling on to. Nothing spectacular by any means but an interesting peek in to the workings in the studio.
The second version of “The Wall Song” is the penultimate track. A more bass driven version of the track sounding more like a produced version that would have fit on to the album but obviously never used.
Finally “Song With No Words ( Tree With No Leaves )” finishes off the CD. Shorter, once again, than the original CV starting by fading in, it’s a rather woozy sounding kind of semi-instrumental with wild west polishes & some great guitar playing by Jerry Garcia that shimmers here. the harmonies that glaze the song seem a little more dense the song ends by just simply stopping with all the instruments stumbling to a close wrapping up an excellent CD set. The cover is a standard Mainstream design – although the usual Mainstream standard is not less than excellent. The pictures on the front include an antiqued Stars & Stripes as a back drop, super imposed is a B&W picture of a bare chested Crosby holding a stars & stripes flag tied in to the shape of a gun against his head & under that a color photo of a tape archive although the print is too small to ascertain if this is actually Atlantic’s batch of tapes. the back features an enlarged picture of the CV’s sleeve with strong yellow lettering on the top. inside is littered with pictures of Crosby, Garcia & other assorted band & studio pictures.
One wishes more would become available on this label or someone might dig up the other bootlegs & sessions that exist & bring out a boxset. it would certainly go above & over the rather poor selection of outtakes selected by Atlantic ( one song! ) Every good album deserves one & this exceptional piece should be no different.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]David Crosby - Everybody Here Can Be In The Band (Mainstream-63),