Concert For Jailhouse (Vintage Masters Premium VM-009)
Winterland, San Francisco, CA – March 26th, 1972
Wooden Ships, I Used To Be a King, Lee Shore, Harvest, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Southbound Train, Almost Cut My Hair, Page 43, And So It Goes, Immigration Man, Heart Of Gold, The Needle And The Damage Done, Teach Your Children, Military Madness, Chicago
The Sheriff’s Benefit concert on March 26th, 1972 was an attempt to raise awareness and funds for the myriad of issues faced by prisoners. Local bands Earth Rise and Stoneground opened for Elvin Bishop and the headliners David Crosby and Graham Nash. Crosby and Nash had just finished recording their first album together Graham Nash David Crosby which would be released about a week after this show on April 5th. The benefit was broadcast live over KSAN in San Francisco and was enhanced with the surprise addition of Neil Young joining the two onstage to sing some songs from his latest LP Harvest along with some CSN&Y classics at the end of the set. This is, as Crosby points out during the show when he says, “If you’re waiting for a big stack of amplifiers, it ain’t happening, it just the little all acoustics and us…and the songs” an all-acoustic set. This tape also appears on Water Brothers Super Sonic (SS 20020) which claims it is from a “Soundboard quality FM Station Reel To Reel Master Tape.” Concert For Jailhouse, which comes straight from the Wolfgang’s Vault archives, is a noticeable improvement over the older release. This version of the tape is more clear and less distorted and is of the same quality as the other tapes that have been released from this archive. There is a small cut in the tape between “Lee Shore” and “Harvest.” It isn’t obvious if Young acknowledges the cheering or introduces his songs or, what is most likely, not. Otherwise the tape is complete.
The tape begins with a short tune up and Nash saying, “Ready? Here we go.” Both Crosby and Nash sing together the classic “Wooden Ships” followed by “I Used To Be A King.” Nash introduces the next song by saying, “This is one by David called ‘All Along The Lee Shore.'” During the number audience members begin to shout out for Neil Young who comes out afterwards to play the title cut from his latest LP Harvest. This is followed by a great version of “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” which doesn’t have a clever introduction. Young leaves the stage before Nash gives the first of two speeches about the benefit. “One thing that is nice to know…if anybody is actually behind bars right now and is listening to the radio which I hear some of them are, there’s no walls between any of us, right? Direct communication.” Crosby continues by saying, “for the moment anyway….the truth is… actually the thing that bothers you the most, having been in jail a few times now…is thinking that nobody gives a rat’s ass. If we do this maybe they’ll think somebody cares anyway…partly.” After “Southbound Train” from the latest album Crosby is left along onstage to sing a rare acoustic version of his song “Almost Cut My Hair.” This is followed by “Page 43” which Crosby introduces by saying, “I was gonna sing you a song I wrote in jail one time…I figured it out…well I have the smartest partner in the world and he said no man we don’t want to take that out here we want to bring this in there. He’s right. So I’ll sing the most positive song I’ve written recently.”
Crosby then introduces Nash for his solo spot, saying, “I’ll leave you to the tender mercies of my friend for a while.” Nash plays the piano for “a new song…thinking about a lady sitting by me on a beach.” He also plays the new song “Immigration Man” and is joined by David Crosby on the harmonies in the middle. Neil Young comes on again to sing two of his own songs, “Heart Of Gold.” “Needle And The Damage Done” follows and Young introduces it as a song that many in prison will be able to relate to. Afterwards both Nash and Crosby give a two minute speech about sending money to help prisoners improve their lives behind bars. “All you people here have helped out a lot already by paying for your tickets. But we could raise a little more money if those who are listening to this on KSAN could send some money into…actually to city hall.” Crosby suggests sending it to the sheriff who is a reasonable dude. All three finish the set with three CSNY songs beginning with the Déjà Vu track “Teach Your Children.” “Military Madness” was still pertinent in 1972 with the war still in full swing. The final song “Chicago,” about the conspiracy trial of the Chicago Seven centered around the 1968 Democratic National Convention sounds a bit dated. They were acquitted several years before this benefit. It is a good song though and a good closer to the set. Concert For Jailhouse is another very good release on the Vintage Masters Premium label and offers an excellent recording of a compact set by Crosby, Nash and Young at the height of their popularity. (GS)