red roses for me

buffalo springfield

For two years during the late 1960's Buffalo Springfield were regarded by many people, along with The Byrds, to be America's answer to The Beatles & although they never got anywhere near that level of commercial success they turned out to be a major influence on American music during the next decade. Also during that time & up to the present day, band members Stephen Stills & Neil Young have got the attention that they & the band deserved.

In many ways comparisons with The Byrds are fully justified as both bands came from similar folk backgrounds & McGuinn & co. were one of the few bands at the time to boast as many creative members. As well as the songwriting & guitar playing of Stills & Young they had another excellent vocalist/songwriter in Richie Furay. This meant while The Byrds seemed to drift into a new style with each LP, Buffalo Springfield featured folk, country & even latin influences on each of their releases. Also due to the competition within the band they had a wealth of first rate songs to choose from.

The band were formed in Los Angles in 1966 when Stills & Furay supposedly spotted Young's black hearse in a traffic jam, raced over & persuaded him to join their as yet unformed band. His passenger was fellow Canadian bassist Bruce Palmer & they soon found a druumer & yet another vocalist in Dewey Mertin. The name came about one day after they saw it painted on the side of a steamroller (and why not??).

After touring with The Byrds they were signed by Atlantic records & in October 66 their first album, "Buffalo Springfield", was released containing 12 songs by Stills & Young. It features a stunning mixture of electric & acoustic guitars, gorgeous harmonies combining to create one of the greatest debut albums of the 60s. Highlights include "Do I Have To Come Right Out & Say It" a song The Beatles would have killed for & the song which via a wonderful cover version introduced me to the band "Flying On The Ground Is Wrong", an acoustic folk style "I miss you" experience everyone should hear. After a couple of months the album was re-released with a new song as they'd got their one hit single in the shape of "For What It's Worth". This protest song was originally written by Stills following scenes of police brutality after a rally by teenagers on Sunset Strip but with the events in Vietnam became an anthem for the time & reached the top ten of the US charts & was recently resurrected by Public Enemy to great effect & featured the "confused" Stills alongside Chuck D & Flavor Flav.

This should have signalled the start of great things for the band but in many ways led to their break-up. As recordings for their 2nd album progressed the pressure for another hit increased leading to Stills & Youngs relationship becoming even more strained. At the same time Bruce Palmer was deported back to Canada on drugs charges to further unsettle the band. An album called "Stampede" was recorded & even got to the stage of sleeves being printed but was then scrapped with only a few of it's songs having seen the light of day since. With these problems it was surprising another album was released at all but when "Again" did in 1967 it was beyond most critics belief & is now quite rightly regarded as a classic.

With Furay contributing three songs the album is even more diverse than the first as he brought with him more country elements. Stills moved into more mainstream rock while Young excelled himself with the melancholic ballad "Expecting To Fly" & the record's pinnacle the closing song "Broken Arrow" This is six minutes of magic that incorporated other songs from the record in a collage of sound that would've fitted onto "Revolver".

There were no hit singles on "Again" though & by now Stills & Young had reached the stage where they wouldn't record if the other was in the studio & meant the band splitting in May 68 was inevitable. During 1969 another album was released called "Last Time Around" & although there are some fine songs on there particularly "Pretty Girl Why?" from the "Stampede" recordings it couldn't live up to the previous releases.

Since then of course Stills & Young were intermittently reunited alongside Crosby & Nash becoming more famous with several inferior albums to Buffalo Springfield & Young has since become the rock dinosaur it's ok to like. There's also a Buffalo Springfield compilation out there called "Retrospective" & persistent rumours of Young putting together the definitive box set in-between tending his real life buffalo on his farm which would be a fitting tribute to a great band.

(main menu)