Of course it’s easy to argue that finding good sound on an album with two or more members of Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young, in any configuration, has never been easy.
It’s the rare copy of either of the first two albums that’s even listenable, and the CSN album from 1977 doesn’t sound nearly as good as any of the first three Crosby/Nash albums. Which simply means that the “good” sound of our Hot Stamper copies is far better than what most audiophiles own of any of these guys in combination.
Their solo albums are a different story altogether. The first solo albums by David Crosby (1971), Stephen Stills (1970) and Graham Nash (1971) are three of my favorite records of all time; each is a brilliant recording, each contains powerfully compelling music (the Nash album especially). Two made our Top 100.
It’s puzzling to contemplate just how well recorded each of their first solo albums are considering their less-than-stellar results as a group. Too many cooks spoiling the broth might make a good guess, but at this point it’s no more than speculation and speculation is mostly a waste of time. With so many records to play we find it better to confine ourselves to the realities of the vinyl in front of us.
Music Does the Driving
As a budding audiophile I went out of my way to acquire any piece of equipment that could make these records from the ’70s (the decade of my formative music-buying years) sound better than the gear I was then using. It’s the challenging recordings by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, as well as scores of other pop and rock artists like them, that drove my pursuit of higher quality audio, starting all the way back in high school.
And here I am — here we are — still at it, forty years later, because the music still sounds fresh and original, and the pressings that we find get better and better with each passing year.
That kind of progress is proof that we’re doing it right. It’s a good test for any audiophile. If you are actively and seriously pursuing this hobby, perhaps as many as nine out of ten non-audiophile pressings in your collection should sound better with each passing year.
As your stereo improves, not to mention your critical listening skills, the shortcomings of some of them will no doubt become more apparent. For the most part, however, with continual refinements and improvements to your system and room, as well as cleaning techniques, vintage pressings will continue to sound better the longer you stay active in the hobby.
That’s what makes it fun to play old records: They just keep getting better!