RELEASES > LPs & CDs > 1980s

This section features an extensive and comprehensive discography of all CSNY sounds from the ‘80s.


American Dream
This project was subject to huge expectations, with the return of both Crosby (from prison and addiction) and Young (from his solo career). Like a Beatles reunion, it was probably doomed to disappoint. American Dream is very much like the Byrds reunion in 1972. The material is a mixed bag and the production is all wrong for the band, but if you are a fan of these four rock legends and you want to hear what they sounded like with a harder rock edge to them – but with their trademark harmonies still intact – this is the album to get.


Replay is the second retrospective released (out of print) by Crosby, Stills & Nash, appearing in 1980 on the Atlantic Records label. A strange compilation, not a “greatest hits” as it contains several album cuts taken from outside the parent CSN discography, and misses charting singles in “Teach Your Children,” “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” and “Woodstock.” This may have been deliberate however, to avoid duplication with songs on So Far.
Daylight Again (original recording remastered)
Produced by El Lay producer extraordinaire Craig Doerge (known mostly for adding synthesizer to the work of Jackson Browne among others) and Stanley Johnson, Daylight Again features several noteworthy songs. “Wasted on the Way,” “Southern Cross,” and “Into the Darkness” are among the more substantial contributions from these musicians struggling to find their place in a world clearly getting away from them. It is a surprisingly good effort, one which proves the strength of the concept of CSN.
As far as the content of the disc is concerned… it’s certainly good, but not great, and it has a patchwork quality that renders it the misfit in the CSN catalog. The tracks are drawn from three sources. The first source are two new studio tracks, the aforementioned ‘War Games’, a feisty Stephen Stills anti-military-industrial complex tune. Stephen was a pioneer in the use of the moog synthesizer, and it is used to great effect on both new songs, but especially on the charging ‘War Games’. The follow-up is a Stills-Graham Nash composition, ‘Raise A Voice’, another protest tune, but this one possesses a bright, optimistic sound. It is interesting how the songwriting styles of both Stills and Nash can be heard in the elements of this song, and once again we are treated to a tempered and creative use of the synthesizer, a device which became infamous for it’s overuse, misuse, and abuse later in the decade.


Oh Yes I can (original recording remastered)
During most of the 80s Crosby were not especially creative because of his addiction, but this was a great comeback. It doesn’t sound 80s at all. There are a lot of good songs on it, especially “Tracks in the dust” and the production and collaboration with the other musicians is really great. Bonnie Raitt’s voice soars up on “Lady of the Harbour” and other guest voices you will hear here are James Taylor, Graham Nash, and Jackson Browne. Give this one a try!


Right By You
With his 1984 album Right By You, Stephen Stills adopted such common mid-’80s trappings including the synthesizers and in-your-face electronic drums/ percussion, and on ‘side 1? of the album, he proves he can put them to excellent use. The haunting, edgy pop-rocker “Stranger”, and the minor-keyed, Latin-flavored dance-pop tune “50/50? are infectiously catchy gems. “Flaming Heart” is a super-fun bluesy rocker–Jimmy Page offers somewhat rote-sounding guitar solo on it, but it’s a minor gripe. “Love Again” leans a little too much toward generic ’80s synth-pop, but is still really catchy.


Earth And Sky (original recording remastered)
It’s is Nash’s most personal album and deals with the early years of his marriage, the birth of his first child and his hopes for the future. It is a window into a truly gentle soul who has the perfect voice to convey those feelings. Musicanship is great with camos from Stills and Crosby. The packaging is decent with full credits and lyrics provided. Liner notes would have helped. The CD it self has excellent sound in a 24 bit remaster.
Innocent Eyes
Graham Nash released Innocent Eyes in 1986, it was his first solo album in six years. He clearly had been listening to the radio in that time because the album adopts a clear 80?s synth beat that permeated most records at the time. The result is a fun, lively album that tanked on the charts but is a great listen. The title track is a bouncy number with Kenny Loggins providing the backing vocal. “Chippin’ Away” is a nice slice of island music ala Jimmy Buffett that is about taking down the Berlin Wall which would happen not long after the song’s release.


Hawks And Doves (original recording remastered)
Originally released on vinyl in 1980, side one is the ‘Doves’ side. It features some lovely acoustic music, especially tracks one and three. ‘Little Wing’ (not the Jimi Hendrix composition) and ‘Lost In Space’ occupy a light, airy, stream-of-consciousness perch that few artists ascend to. The longest track on the disc, ‘The Old Homestead’, is actually a mid-1970?s Neil composition. It runs almost eight minutes in length, and contains a great deal of difficult-to-make-sense-of imagery. Like abstract art, you could spend more than a few hours drawing meaning from this one. The closer on side one is ‘Captain Kennedy’.
There is a certain segment of Neil Young’s fan base that is in it primarily for the decibels. They want to hear “Hey Hey My My”, not “My My Hey Hey”. They want Crazy Horse, and it better not be “Greendale”. While I share their passion, I do have a corresponding affinity for much of Young’s kinder and gentler fare, such as `Comes a Time’. There does come a time, however, when the mood strikes for something striking, and nothing can strike that chord like Neil’s “”. In that sense, this may well be Neil’s most underrated effort.
Neil Young has become notorious for the abrupt genre-hopping he has done, particularly throughout the ’80s. That said, Trans, which was originally released in December of 1982/January of 1983, is a pretty bizarre album any way you look at it, and it’s an album that you can’t easily summarize. With the exception of “Mr. Soul”, Neil doesn’t deliver any of his trademark noisy guitar soloing here. Don’t get the wrong idea though–even with the abundance of synthesizers/electronics on the album, there are still a lot of guitars. There are prominent, crunchy guitars on “We R In Control” and “Computer Cowboy”, plus smooth double-tracked guitar on “Computer Age”.
Everybody’s Rockin’
Nestled somewhat uncomfortably between a hay wired electro-pop experiment, 1983?s Trans, and the countrified Old Ways, this rockabilly curio now stands as one more wild swing from Neil Young during a particularly shaky phase. Backed by the five-member Shocking Pinks, Young works his way through a selection of covers and slight originals. Young sounds amused but less then committed, as evidenced by the fact that he’d soon wash the grease out of his hair and disband the Shocking Pinks.
Old Ways (original recording remastered)
Neil Young’s most dependable route has always been to head for the back roads. Country-flavored releases Harvest (1972), Comes a Time (’78), Harvest Moon (’92), and Silver & Gold (’00) are among the most commercially popular titles in a fitful career, which makes Old Ways something of a anomaly. But Young being Young, he goes around the bend with “Misfits,” which summons an indelible image of space-station astronauts watching reruns of Muhammad Ali fights. It happens to be the most memorable number on Old Ways, which perhaps explains why those new fans never showed up and the old ones found other things to do for awhile.
Landing On Water
Landing On Water may not be Neil Young’s worst album, but it’s probably the least noteworthy collection he’s assembled. For what turned out to be his penultimate Geffen album, Young rebuffed his regular set of co-producers in favor of West Coast journeyman Danny Kortchmar–seemingly in the interest of honing a more radio-friendly sound. As a result, the singer finds himself bobbing his way through layers of synthesizer fills and Steve Jordan’s strident drumming; the whole thing feels like a bland ’80s rock soundtrack. None of these songs have even become concert salvage projects.
This isn’t one of Neil’s masterpieces, but it’s a pretty good effort. Those who say it’s weak, or lacks emotion just don’t get it. This CD is packed with emotion, it’s just more subtle than his casual fans expect. One listen to “Prisoners of Rock-n-Roll” should confirm his state of mind. Of course, most of the schleps who want “Hey Hey, My My” on every cd won’t like this one. This CD is pure Neil.
This Note’s For You
One might assume the first album Neil Young put out upon his return to Reprise Records in 1988 after a misbegotten stint with Geffen would signal a comeback for the temporarily misplaced singer-songwriter. This one’s the last in a series of titles from Young in the most capricious phase of a fickle career. While the anti-endorsement title track kicked up some dust at the time, the 10-song collection is weighed down by undistinguished, one-note workouts like “Ten Men Working,” “Married Man,” and “Sunny Inside” (the titles pretty much sum up the songs). Thankfully, Young returned to his own shade of blue after this curious bar-band one-off.
Freedom was Young’s return to form after almost a decade of electronic experiments and mediocre novelty music. “Rockin’ in the Free World,” a howling anthem about homelessness, depression, and drug dealing, bookends the album–and, in 1989, proved the singer/songwriter hadn’t completely dropped into obscurity. The romantic ballads (“The Ways of Love”), grunge-predicting guitar-rockers (a siren-screaming version of “On Broadway”), and one amazing, punk-like story-song (“Crime in the City [Sixty to Zero, Part I]“) constitute Young’s strongest writing in years.

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