Sonic Grade: D
Another Classic Records LP debunked.
I’ve listened to Nash’s first solo outing countless times over the last thirty years, even more than Crosby, Stills and Nash’s first album. As I was listening to the Classic pressing I recall thinking “Wow, I don’t remember that sound being there; this version is so much better I can hear things I never heard before!” Well, owners of this album (all five of you) will certainly hear things you never heard before, because some of the tracks on this album have been remixed and some of the instruments re-recorded! How about them apples!
Both the snare and the kick drum on some songs are clearly too “modern” sounding for anything recorded in 1971; they’d be right at home on Nirvana, for Pete’s sake. Sometimes the vocal tracks are different—probably alternate takes I would think, as Graham obviously can’t sing like he did thirty years ago to even attempt a re-recording.
Our Old Commentary from the mid-2000s
I haven’t played this record in a long time — years in fact. During that time there have been dramatic improvements in my analog playback. I’m guessing that if I played this Classic Record now I would hear what I hear on almost all of them — less midrange magic than the best originals, some boost on the top, and maybe a bit too much bottom, and a slightly dry bottom at that.
Those of you with really magical originals are encouraged to hang onto them and pass on this Classic. As those do not grow on trees, if you want a good pressing of this album, the Classic may be just the ticket. If you find a hot original, you will have a benchmark against which to judge it.
One Helluva Well-Recorded Album
Most of the credit must go to the team of recording engineers, led here by the esteemed Bill Halverson, the man behind all of the Crosby Stills Nash and Young albums. Nash was clearly influenced by his work with his gifted bandmates, proving with this album that he can hold his own with the best of the best. Some songs (We Can Change The World, Be Yourself) are grandly scaled productions with the kind of studio polish that would make Supertramp envious. For me, a big speaker guy with a penchant for giving the old volume knob an extra click or two, it just doesn’t get any better than this.
Others (Sleep Song, Wounded Bird) are quiet and intimate. Their subtlely is highlighted by the big productions surrounding them. This is that rare album in which every aspect of the production, from the arrangements to the final mix, serves to bring out the best qualities in the songs, regardless of scale.
The recording is of course superb throughout, in the best tradition of Crosby Stills and Nash’s classic early albums: transparent, smooth and sweet vocals, with loads of midrange magic ; deep punchy bass; lovely extension on the top to capture the shimmer of the cymbals and harmonic trails of the acoustic guitars; with the whole balanced superbly by one of our all-time heroes, Glyn Johns.