Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, ‘Wembley Stadium 1974’ (Zion-228)

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Wembley Stadium 1974 (Zion 228)

Disk One – Introduction / Love The One You’re With / Wooden Ships / Immigration Man / Helpless / Military Madness / Johnny’s Garden / Traces / Almost Cut My Hair (42:55)
Disk Two – MC / Teach Your Children / Only Love Can Break Your Heart / The Lee Shore / Time After Time / It’s All Right / Another Sleep Song / Our House / Hawaiian Sunrise / Star Of Bethlehem / Love Art Blues / Old Man / Change Partners / Blackbird / Myth Of Sysiphus / You Can’t Catch Me – Word Game / Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (76:40)

Disk Three – MC / Deja Vu / First Things First / Don’t Be Denied / Black Queen / Pushed It Over The End / Pre-Road Downs / member introductions / Carry On / Ohio (69:57)

Live at Wembley Stadium, London, UK. 14th September, 1974.
The No Label guys have picked up more from the archives of Mike B – If you’ll remember the recent Allman Brothers release from Knebworth or the Rolling Stones Knebworth tape from Tarantura. you’ll know the great captures that this intrepid taper got within this time – This tape is another generational classic of an bit-piece tour, but for that, let’s go back to the start.
The late David Crosby, never one to sugar-coat such discrepancies went on record to call CSNY’s 1974 tour, “The Doom Tour”, Grahame Nash seemed to suggest that Crosby was most likely having the time of his life personally, politically however, it was tough for everyone – Both within the Whitehouse and within the bands own sources. While living the highlife, the band were being stripped of most of their assets (Money wise as well as trouserwise), while they played their hearts out on stage. With the “1974” tour boxed set, the band had their heads turned around to just how good they were while they had been previously looking back on the tour as horrific. Several soundboard recorded tapes were used within the making of the box, highlighting the quick-spirited turn over of the magic that this ramshackle bunch of wizards were creating on the road, even while touring. To make up the fact that they were now playing stadia as opposed to large concert halls (and no doubt with a stylistic push by Neil Young), the band were really pushing up the volume – An issue that became apparent as the band complained that their harmonies were beginning to suffer as a result. 
This audience tape captures the show at London’s Wembley stadium on the 14th of September, 1974. Remastered from Mike’s tapes by Graf Zeppelin, the sound is a little distant, a little louder on the audience noise than some of us may want (One of the guys sat close to the taper reveals himself to be a big NY fan), but nothing that really over shadows the concert itself – Personally, I found it better to be listened to either loudly or through headphones – The lyrics are given better justification then. There’s sometimes a little rustling from the placement of the tapes microphone as it knocks against buttons or zips. Nothing that’s not inconsistent with some other audience records you may have heard. 
 It’s a special recording as it’s a ‘greatest hits’ of sorts – CSN bring out a big clutch of their biggest and best, Young, being as he is, throws tracks that would be unreleased for a long time afterwards – Popping up on the 1974 set and then on NY’s “Archives” sets and then the 2020 release of “Homegrown”, that long lost album of what turned out to be largely acoustic tunes. It’s worth noting that the versions of ‘Our House’ and ‘Pushed It Over The End’, played here, were included on the official ‘1974’ live boxed set. 
The tape starts rapidly with a fizzy fission of rapt audience applause before Graham Nash’s chipper greetings – the set starts with a chugging, extended ‘Love The One You’re With’, built to showcase all the members of the band and the vocal prowess within. Every single second of the track spills over with an overload of power that’s unsurprising for a unit such as this, the pace slows for the next track but the bulk is still apparent as Crosby’s ‘Wooden Ships’ floats in – A strange placement so early in the set, I might suggest but maybe this was a placement for egos sake and known openers. 
‘Immigration Man’ follows, dedicated to all of those that had travelled far and wide to be here tonight, next to that it’s Neil’s first turn at the mic, he brings ‘Helpless’, the first biggest ripple of applause for a known song this evening, this has large swathes of the crowd breaking out in a sweat as this encompassing American hero has swooped in for the show – almost as if British crowds had been starved of his attention. 
Post – ‘Military Madness’, Graham suggests that the band would be “here for another few hours at least”, judging by how many songs seem to be dripping from this quartet, he’s very likely not wrong. Prior to ‘Traces’, one guy in the crowd wants (Neil? The band?) to know that they’re beautiful – Maybe it’s all the denim and flannel shirts. The song itself, in its band mode is, in fairness, beautiful – A cascading, lilting, hopeless melody that’s deeply Youngian. It has itsbasis in Crazy Horse, it’s expertly handled by the band however who lift it along with ease. 
‘Almost Cut My Hair’ is quietly raging – David’s hulking voice cutting straight through the evenings sky while Stills and Young cut shapes with a couple of searing, soaring guitar parts while Russ Kunkell hammers around in the background, playing lift with Tim Drummond’s bass lines – both helping the track take a launch in to an iron-plated coda. 
Disk two has the band turn to playing an acoustic portion to the set – as well as being littered with the new classics, is where Neil begins to get a little more airtime for his new songs too – ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ amasses the huge crowd in to a huge sing along, ‘The Lee Shore’, as quite as it is is helped along nicely by the efforts of Joe Lala’s rattling percussion. 
‘Time After Time’ and ‘It’s All Right’ recent Crosby / Nash songs are performed achingly quietly – quite obviously they are of their authors – The former planitivley haunting and stark, the latter bare-bones but warm. Had Wembley stadium had a roof, the reception to ‘Our House’ would have taken it clean off – Something about the entwined harmonies, the murmured peace, those blanket-warm lyrics seems to stop time. 
Neil Young returns to the stage and elucidates on a tale about the sea, as introduction to ‘Hawaiian Sunrise’, the giddy crowd around the taper, having possibly had a longer day than they thought start to get a little fidgety, this seems to affect Mike’s mic a little as through out the song, there are tiny little pops around the sound – They affect the recording a little – but don’t do a great deal to affect the song itself. ‘Star Of Bethlehem’ wouldn’t see release for many years either, a younger sibling of ‘Bad Fog Of Loneliness’, its effortlessly simple tune glides along sweetly. 
‘Old Man’ comes after the restless, ‘Love Art Blues’ as it seems people were looking for something a little more familiar – The song gamely rolls along despite nearly 80,000 people clapping along to the off beat – A shame as it’s a perfectly good rendition but the clapping takes the edge off of proceedings a little. 
Upon the entrance of Stephen Stills set, ‘Change Partners’, settles the crowd down, this lovely waltz, described as the theme tune to CSNY has a captivating element – A shame that ‘Blackbird’, the showcase of those harmonies that we enjoy doesn’t seem to captivate the crowd as much as there’s little pockets of noise and squabbling here and there. Ironically, just after David pleads for quiet, there’s the sound of a jet flying over the airport that zooms through the recording too. 
The marvellously dexterous version of ‘You Can’t Catch Me / Word Game’, itself has the audience rapt and quiet. No doubt in point to the way that Stephen flames through it for four and a half quick minutes. But then we get to the climax of the acoustic set, the wonderful, ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ – the audience firstly recognise it from around two notes, burst in to applause, then sit very quietly still as the music just washes straight over them, joining in for the rapturous coda. Joining the band, wordlessly, is Joni Mitchell, faintly audible but recognisable to the microphone as the foursome’s fierce harmonies overpower all.
Disk three showcases the second of the bands electric sets beginning with the jazz-powerhouse, ‘Deja Vu’, Crosby’s multi-faceted odyssey of power. Doomish and rumbling, it rolls around like a thunder storm, the liquid solo flashing like lightning.
The mood is lightened afterwards, firstly by Graham reading out the football scores, secondly with Stephen’s, joyous ‘First Things First’ – the song would appear on “Stills”, the following year but gets a premier here. A big, bold track, the percussion gets the greatest work out here.
Neil’s ‘Don’t Be Denied’ is apparently brought out as a stop-gap in the set after Graham throws out the suggestion that the crowd choose the next track – After what seems like a thousand requests for ‘Southern Man’, Neil picks a track that he wants to play instead, typically enough. ‘Pushed It Over The End’ is a deliciously great, heavy waltz – Taking turns to move one way to another, it staggers back and forth
‘Preroad Downs’, one of the many highlights of the first album, shows up very well here, a wonderful little bullet of power, next to ‘Carry On’, a piece with deserved place at the end of the set with it’s looping riff, rolling against the frenetic soloing that runs along side like a horse to a freight-train. The audience help the track along by clapping along at the right time too. An a-Capella break towards the end coincides with a change to the tapes fidelity – Moving between really clear to slightly muffled – It almost sounds like the label have faded into a different tape. This version lasts nearly 15 minutes but does, at least, have enough variations to stay interesting. 
Finally, after the audience have practically shouted themselves hoarse crying alternately for ‘more’ and the lesser known, ‘seven men’ (Yeah, we know what they mean) the set wraps up with a massively impressive ‘Ohio’. A tub-thumpingly, riotous version, it aches with the bruising that was always apparent on this political aside. Less lengthy than ‘Carry On’, the band wrap up after 4 minutes. 
The tape concludes to more fevered shouts for an encore as the band take turns to bid their adieus. Our taper continues to tape for a short while before evidently realising that the band had probably played their lot. 
This is a very good audience tape within the collection of CSNY recordings – Possibly not THE best, but of a better than average quality – If there are any niggles I had, I hope I’ve covered them above. It’s a good contender for need, though falls slightly short of “must have”. 

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