Thursday, May 23, 2013

Put The Boot In: 'Getting Closer'-The Last Flight of Paul McCartney and Wings 12-17-79




      This evening in the 'rock room' I am spinning a crispy soundboard recording from December 17th 1979 featuring the final line up of Paul McCartney and Wings. This recording was originally recorded for and destined to be a live LP release, but due to McCartney's untimely arrest for Marijuana in Japan, the album was shelved and Wings eventually ceased touring. McCartney would eventually continue as a strictly solo artist, but at this point 'Wings' were still flying high in Glasgow, the last live show of their career. The 1979 UK tour featured diverse and eclectic set lists a punk rock attitude, and a stripped down 'Wings' with Steve Holley on drums, Laurence Juber on guitar, McCartney main man Denny Laine on vocals and many instruments, and of course Paul and Linda McCartney.
      The 'boot' I am using for my review is by Vigotone and titled 'Last Flight', the only track from the concert to see an official release is the version of 'Coming Up' from the Glasgow show which was released as a single in the UK and US reaching the top of both charts. Reaching into all of the dusty corners of McCartney's solo career the 1979 Wings UK tour shows a willingness to keep the 'band' aspect of Wings alive, and to develop a show based on the groups merits as opposed to past Beatles glories. The quality is that of an official release with all instruments audible and mixed well.
      Opening the show with 'Got To Get You Into My Life' McCartney gets the crowds hope for a 'Beatles' tune out of the way early. What follows is a rhythmically stomping version with chorused guitars and a fresh, eager and raspy rock throat Macca. The small horn section tastefully plays the song as it was originally recorded over Paul's throbbing and rotund bass lines. The crowd explodes in appreciation as 'Wings' then jumps into the opening track of the LP 'Back To the Egg', 'Getting Closer'. A song that would never be played again by McCartney, 'Getting Closer' is a rocker will fully amped Macca bass lines that melodically back stroke through the jagged rhythm waters of the tune. The chorus is classic McCartney, smooth and cutting edge, building to a crashing conclusion with swirling laser shots from Linda's keyboard set up. A great opener to the show spotlighting two distinctly different aspects of McCartney's career.
      McCartney tells the crowd 'thank you' and after a quick pause the group strums their way into 'Every Night', a standout song from McCartney's first solo LP. Soft and dynamic, the song coasts like a cool evening breeze appearing at dusk after a steamy summer day. Paul sings gloriously, with Denny and Linda joining in on the three part 'Oooohhhh's". A nice distorted representation of the guitar solo is layed down by Juber mid tune adding to the tight knit instrumentation of the track.
     The concert's song choice gets even more interesting with the string of songs that follow 'Every Night' each one unique and well played. 'Again and Again and Again' jubilantly bounds from the speakers a beautifully melodic and infectious Denny Laine penned number. A song featured on the new 'Back to the Egg' LP, McCartney was always sure that Laine's best songs got their full airing live in concert. Juber plays some ticklish scurrying guitar lines that creep underneath the vocals with a shaky confidence.  One of my favorite Wings tunes and a highlight thus far.
     Paul wanted this line up of Wings to have a more serrated edge to their music, so it is fitting that he gives 'I've Had Enough', one of the harder rocking tunes from 'London Town', a great workout on this tour. Opening on a start and stop chopping guitar figure, "Ive Had Enough' swaggers on a quintessentially 'Macca' vocal melody that harkens back to his throat shredding with the early Beatles. A nice dual guitar figure nestles itself in the middle of the song, prior to McCartney's spoken warning to the subject of the tune.
     Another round of 'thank you's' and then Laine introduces the next song 'No Words' as one of the first tunes he and Macca penned together. A true collaboration, as the song was two different tunes joined together by Laine and McCartney. The song first appeared on 'Band On the Run' and gets a live work out here that spotlights the smooth Wings vocal blend and Laine's composing abilities. The horn section squeaks and moans in all the right places contributing to a well played version.
     A chance for Linda McCartney to show off one of her own songs comes next as the rare and fun 'Cook of the House' gets a live airing. A goofy rock number with swinging horns and adequate vocals by Linda, 'Cook of the House' was originally the 'B' side of 'Silly Love Songs', Wings 1976 single. Here it gets a horn drenched, old fashioned rock and roll performance with Linda finishing the tune with a crowd pleasing 'Yelp'!
      After some humorous on microphone voice inflections my Paul, he introduces my personal favorite performance of the concert thus far.  'Old Siam Sir' is another track from 'Back to the Egg' which was released as a single in the UK. One of the hardest rocking Wings tunes in recent memory, this song is a thick sludgy rocker that stomps with heavy feet. McCartney is in full 'Oh Darling' voice as he shreds his vocal lines naming different locations in the UK in which his female protagonist searches for her 'Sir'. The track swells on dual guitar lines, Macca's reverberating bass, and 'jack in the box' piano lines that contrast with the distorted backing. The song slowly builds in momentum until it crashes to a well received ending. Sweet.
     In what feels like an end to a first set to me, the preceding tunes set the stage for a triad of McCartney's most beloved and famous piano ballads that follow an introduction by drummer Steve Holley. McCartney messes with the crowd in his usual fashion, then begins the recognizable introduction to 'Maybe I'm Amazed', which is followed by versions of "The Fool On the Hill', and 'Let It Be'. McCartney is in perfect throat with just enough satin smooth, and a touch of sandpaper rough. The band provides a backing that frames and spotlights Paul, but still is aggressive enough that they can put their stamp on songs that are so recognizable in their composition and arrangements. After 'Maybe I'm Amazed', Paul asks the crowd to 'Whoohoo!" a bit, then delicately strikes the introduction to "The Fool on the Hill', in my opinion a fantastic choice for this slot in the show. Denny is on bass, and Linda is adding touches of percussion, and during the middle eight of the song the band clip clops to Paul's falsetto additions and the flute punctuations flavoring the musical stew. The conclusion to Paul's piano trilogy is a emotionally charged 'Let It Be' introduced by Laine. 'Let It Be' has a very secular vibe with Linda's church organ underpinning Paul's gospel piano. What really makes this 'Let It Be' a unique version is the addition of the horns, sympathetic drums, as well as the climatic guitar interlude. Midway through the set and there are no signs of the band letting up.
     Leading into the second half of the show comes another run of rarely played and enthusiastic tracks from Macca's career. A tropical and icy cool 'Hot as Sun' flaunts itself with a jittery groove and groovy horns. A rarely played instrumental song from McCartney's first solo LP makes a welcome appearance with a celebratory beach party vibe. Kudos to the band for a collaborative and amazing version!
     Following 'Hot As Sun' comes the UK single 'Spin It On' which Macca introduces as a song from their last LP. 'Spin It On' slices through the stratosphere with a high octane turbo charged cadence. Encapsulating the direction that McCartney was looking for from his 'rock' edition of Wings,'Spin It On' soars breathlessly through its changes with semi automatic drums and churning punk guitars. Again, McCartney is in fine voice, screaming in his interminable fashion.
      It makes sense that the next tune is the song that helped usher Paul into the world of rock and roll, and the song that brought Lennon and McCartney together all those years ago. Eddie Cochran's 'Twenty Flight Rock' is a tune that McCartney has held close and busted out at different moments over the course of his career. Wings swing their way through the slippery sliding central lick as Macca counts off the flights he climbs. At the songs conclusion he replies, "Thank you rockers everywhere!'
     Going in a different direction and slowing down the show slightly, Paul gives the spotlight to Denny Laine who performs his well known classic 'Go Now' which Wings always got its teeth into. With Laine on Piano and Paul and Linda sharing the backing vocals 'Go Now' reaches into the blue for some misty peaks containing a couple of nice solos by Juber. Laine's voice, one of the key elements in the 'Wings' sound is highly under appreciated. While the song choice is not super unique, it is a well played and always welcome addition to the set.
     Another 'new' song comes up next, which happens to be the last song on 'Back To the Egg', 'Arrow Through Me'. The tune springs on a minimal and squishy keyboard lick that forms the central melody of the tune. Containing a slight R and B flavor with its soulful groove and melodic horns, McCartney harmonizes with the aforementioned horn licks in his chilling falsetto. This may be the 'loosest' performance of the night, but in no way does this deter the performance.
     Because of the concerts proximity to the holidays, the next song performed is a singalong version of 'Wonderful Christmastime' which was also Paul's recent single. This really is a great version with on point harmonies, and even the dated synth sounds are absolutely perfect. A definite crowd pleaser, and is the case with Paul, a perfect call.
     The only song officially released from this show follows with an off the rails version of 'Coming Up' filled with fat full bass and ass shaking 'disco' guitars. It's obvious why this song made it to wax as it levitates off the ground with lunatic playing and nothing less than perfection from McCartney vocally. Linda's contributions throughout the song, and the performance in gerneral are pivotal and add a good amount of ambiance to all the tunes. If you have ever heard this version of 'Coming Up', (I'm sure you have) you can gain an insight into the grandiose aspect of this concert.
     The last four songs of the show are the perfect climax, perhaps a bit suspected, but with the excellent playing that has occurred, and the amount of rare goods being busted out anything Wings could do at this point would be fine! A fitting 'Goodnight Tonight' gets everyone in the mood. Starting with a ethnic drum machine rhythm, topped with spinning fan acoustic guitar by Laine, one of McCartney's finest bass lines leans in close and squeezes tight. The energy and vocal asides contained in this version make it a must have, taking the studio version to school. Stretched like bubblegum in the sun the song sticks counter punctual melodies against synthesized samples, James Brown guitar slaps and McCartney's unmistakably classic melodies. Beautiful.
     Paul and the horns stand alone for a version of 'Yesterday', McCartney's most well known song, and a standard in the songwriting pantheon. The crowd sings and swells joining in a chant of 'Paul McCartney!' in joyous ecstasy, to which Paul asks if they would like to join in a singalong. With that he begins strumming like a forest minstrel on acoustic, 'Mull of Kintyre'. Another perfect song choice, being that the concert is in Glasgow, the band trickles in, soaking rain on dry earth, seeping into the fabric of the song. Bag pipe players join the stage, adding to the celebration which plainly translates through the recording and brings a smile. A crowning moment to a concert brimming with shining performances.
     After another few minutes of the crowd going bonkers, Paul returns to the stage for what is the 'last song of the show, and last song of the tour'. Paul thanks everyone, lets out a few hollers, and ends the journey of 'Wings' with a perfect 'Band On the Run'. With Paul's voice starting to show some wear, and the band I assume feeling exhausted, they finish with a multicolored and multifaceted version for the books that concludes in a singalong.
     With a career as long and expansive as Sir Paul McCartney, there are countless LP's, shows, and momentous moments throughout his life that can be looked at with a critical eye. The era in which this performance hails from is rich in peak, yet underrated McCartney songwriting, as well as amazing live performances.This concert acts as the signpost to a new era for McCartney, concluding his second band, and ushering in his future career as a 'rock legend'. It's a shame that only one track from this night of music has ever been officially released,(Addendum: now that the McCartney Remasters have been released 3 of the Glasgow songs appeared on the McCartney I bonus disc) but it is fortunate that the concert is available for those who are willing to search.




Every Night-Glasgow Audio With London Video

Coming Up-Glasgow-12' vinyl

Glasgow Concert Link PART 1

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Put the Boot In: David Bowie-'Sniper In the Brain' September 5, 1974 Universal Amphitheater Los Angeles

 
     Glamorously jamming in the 'rock room' today is a purported first generation soundboard recording of David Bowie and band from the 1974 'Diamond Dogs' tour. Hailing from Los Angeles this recording finds Bowie in his decadent post 'Ziggy"' persona, and still performing amazingly visual and musical concerts. I find this era of Bowie to be peak, its intensity along the lines of the 'Spiders from Mars' shows, yet different in its theatrics as well as the musical dynamics and expressions. The band for this tour had been expanded and left behind Mick Ronson and the 'Spiders' from previous years. The 'Mike Garson' band was picked as the road musicians featuring background singers, a horn section with Davis Sanborn, and capable and creative guitarists Earl Slick and Carlos Alomar. This era found David at his most fragile, thin, and pale yet still creating another persona and theatrical stage face in which to disseminate his craft.

     The wonderful sounding line recording opens with about ten minutes of animal noises and sounds (played over concert PA) before breaking into the prelude of an orgasmic woman and creaming into the funky introduction of '1984'. '1984' being a foundaional track off of Bowie's new 'Diamond Dogs' LP is a fitting opener to the performance. The soundboard is crisp, if not lacking a bit of the high end, but for the most part all instruments are audible and punchy. At some points the recording seems a bit flat but only for the very discerning ear. The mix is present and the performance spacey and funky. Chunky red lipstick guitar moves '1984' forward leaving streaks on the mirror. Sounding grandiose, and much more orchestrated than Bowie's streamlined 1973 performances, the show sleekly fires  musical shots across the alluring LA night sky.

     Segueing somewhat oddly into 'Rebel Rebel' the music now sizzles with a punky attitude contributed to by some joyous and unique backing vocals. When the tune hits its highway stride the horns are blazing, vocalists are howling, and Bowie is scatting percussively over the glittering musicianship.

    From 'Rebel Rebel's' neon ashes rises the freaky introduction of 'Moonage Daydream', from Ziggy, which erotically slinks toward the assembled crowd with a dark syncopation. Bowie sensually and breathlessly sings the lyrics with a raspy intensity. His voice does not yet sound up to its full capabilities, but is emotive and contains a weightless astronaut attitude. The tune thrusts forward on a big fat puffy bass line and windy whistling keyboard licks that sway in conjunction with the moaning horns.

     Following 'Moonage ' is the 'suite' of songs from 'Diamond Dogs' first side, 'Sweet Thing' and 'Candidate'. This particular version is contained within a translucent bubble that travels weightlessly through a smog black sky. Large bell tower bass notes and spacious piano glissando's wrap up Bowie's breathy and smooth vocalizations. A whirling David Sanborn saxophone solo sets the stage for the segue into 'Candidate" which is highlighted by Bowie's rhythmic 'hip hop' lyrical grooves. The performance is hitting its full stride at this very moment. There follows a brief piano interlude at the conclusion of 'Sweet Thing' that helps to introduce a crowd pleasing 'Changes', full of dynamics and detail.

     'Suffragette City' begins as the cymbals of 'Sweet Thing' fade away and is a high tempo 'blam blam'. As tiring as the woman Bowie speaks of in his lyrics, 'Suffragette' cruses along at altitude rejecting all inquires by friends and lovers, being too busy to look back. A high energy stomp.

     'Aladdin Sane' is ushered in on a tight hi hat introduction that ethnically swings on scattered percussion and tightly arranged guitar and horn lines. A tune that encourages the body to move 'Aladdin Sane" changes tempos, melodies, and grooves. The song blossoms into a piano based middle section that moves like a scantily dressed dark skinned woman in sandy moonlight.Beautiful.

     Bowie greets the crowd after 'Aladdin Sane' for the first time in a mock accent and ushers in"All the Young Dudes", a song composed by Bowie, but made famous by 'Mott the Hoople'. A melodic call to arms for all of Bowie's 'people', freaks and geeks alike.

     'Cracked Actor' struts in on the coat tails of distorted guitars and enthusiastic horns. Bowie playfully teases his vocals like a sexual deviant. I have included video for this actual performance at the bottom of the page. With a slight pause the band slips into 'Rock and Roll With Me' which starts sluggish, but concludes in a nice singalong peak. Bowie sings quite well, and the featured guitar solo by Alomar (I think) is quite melodic and hits some intense musical spaces.

     The group then screams bombastically into Bowie's fantastically funkified version of "Knock On Wood". While retaining the original melody, Bowie's arrangement leans forward and places heavy steps, placing emphasis on all the right changes. He makes the song his own through his dynamic and hard hitting arrangement.

     The show then slows for a soulful rendition of 'It's Gonna Be Me' savored til the last drop and dynamically played with attentive filigree's and whispered punctuations by the assembled band. A previously unreleased track from Bowie's 'Young American's album, 'It's Gonna Be Me" is lyrically epic and musically transparent. A peak of the performance. The saxophones wail and the piano johnny apple-seed's hearty peeling glissando's as Bowie is reaches into thick liquid night for momentous vocal displays. A tremendous display of  Bowie's own brand of cosmic glitter R and B, spotlighting his intimate and dynamic vocals. Wow.
   

     But wait, there's more! Another pair of songs from 'Diamond Dogs' follows when 'Big Brother' segues into 'Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family'. 'Big Brother' spies through keyholes and from fire escapes, peering into Bowie's window vision of brainwashing and reflection, based on George Orwell's novel 1984. 'Big Brother' is a slinky macabre version the breaks into a 'rag time' interlude which then leads to the brief but deliciously strange and tribal 'Skeletal Family'. Sound effects straight from the LP again blend the songs together as Bowie begins in my opinion one of his finest musical moments.

     'Time' begins a slight burlesque ditty, but becomes a distorted guitar epic.....classically Bowie. Bowie's lyrics, a statement on the inevitability of time's effect on life, death, friends and his own mind reaches all the right peaks in all the right places. Bowie glides over the tic tock piano lines with taut wordless 'Lai Lai's that reach into the thick stew of time passed on by. The crowd loves it, and so do I. A fine and stirring moment.

     Introduced by a fat sliding barre chorded bass interlude the band crunches 'Jean Genie' under their respective heeled boots with an intensity harkening back to the previous 'Ziggy' tour. There is an explosive middle and smoking conclusion of the tune where the 'Mike Garson' band discharges into a somewhat improvised but definitely incendiary breakdown that slides effortlessly back into the chorus of the song.

     The finale of the show is fittingly the final song featured on the 'Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars' LP, "Rock and Roll Suicide'. Also featured on the live LP representation of the tour 'David Live', this version is a grand finish and and you can feel Bowie pushing to the make the conclusion of the show a memorable one. Bowie imagined himself as a 'chanteur' when preforming this number, placing himself into the character of a french renaissance era composer and lyricist. Bowie always preformed best when his persona was in flux and his 'characters' were changing.

     The concert concludes with the single 7' release 'John, I'm Only Dancing' a song often ruminated over regarding its homosexual leanings and statements. It should be of no surprise to anyone, but of course the single was never released in America until four years after the fact because of the content of the lyrics. The song swings between a R and B groove and on to a full out disco beat, years before its popularity. This song is the perfect conclusion to an expansive and well played show. 'Dancing' includes glimpses into Bowie's personal preferences, a sampling of his musical head at the time, a diverse instrumentation, and a intense arrangement that leaves the crowd wanting more.

     This 1974 concert finds Bowie in one his most gossiped about yet intensely creative periods of his career. After a change of band and persona, Bowie returned with a newer and bigger band, a diverse display of theatrics, and a revolutionary new LP 'Diamond Dogs' that created the pallet for his new direction. The official LP release 'David Live' is a solid representation of this tour and a nice place to start if you are not familiar with the era. I would then supplement with the numerous field recordings and bootlegs available. Bowie had fully developed into the 'thin white duke' at this point and his mystery and oracle drove his popularity skyward while fueling his own creativity. Listening to the concerts and recordings from this era reflect the multiple directions and radical development of Bowie as one of the finest rock and roll artists we have ever seen.

Cracked Actor Live 1974

9-5-1974 Entire Show Audio



    
    




Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young-"Human Highway" The Unreleased LP - A Rock Room Reconstruction



Today I have a very special and unique article developed for what is the 50th edition of "Talk From the Rock Room"! Thanks to all my readers for keeping up and inspiring me to keep the blog going!  This week in the 'rock room' I have been exploring the fertile period of 1973 to 1974 for the quartet of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. In May of 1973 after an extended period of non collaboration, the group met in Hawaii for some rest, relaxation and to discuss and possibly create a new LP.

Unfortunately this LP would never come to fruition as the respective members quickly moved on to solo projects before anything could be finished. The normal bickering and friction that comes from the meeting of the four powerful personalities reared its head during the LP's creation and things came to a screeching halt. Graham Nash is quoted as saying that the 'unfinished' LP would have been called 'Human Highway' and that the group had ten tracks planned for it. The LP even had the artwork picked out which I have included in this blog, of a picture of the principals taken on their Hawaiian beach vacation during the pastel of dusk. Many of the recorded songs for the prospective Human Highway were performed by the group at various performances, as well as ending up on future solo records. But as a defined collection of officially released studio recordings, it was not meant to be.

Over the course of time the unreleased LP has grown in stature and legend. Some tracks have escaped through various releases, and some still remain hidden in the deep recesses of CSNY's musical vault. What I have done in this weeks blog is recreate this 'lost' album based on what tracks are available, statements that have been made, and the information that has been leaked by various sources. On all  of the studio versions I have reviewed, Johnny Barbata and Tim Drummond are featured on drums and bass respectively I believe (Little Blind Fish has Russ Kunkle on drums). Ok, without anymore extended rumination, anticipated and speculated upon, I give you my version of the lost CSNY LP 'Human Highway'

     In May of 1973 it had been three years since the release of the 'Deja Vu' album and the stars were in alignment for another attempt at a group LP. Neil Young had rocketed to super stardom with the release of his LP 'Harvest', and the other principal members Crosby, Stills, and Nash were in an era where they were all extremely prolific in their creativity and songwriting. After their planned meeting in Hawaii the group convened at Young's 'Broken Arrow' ranch to get their new tracks down on tape. Using sources such as David Zimmer's CSN biography, as well as various band member interviews, and the CSN box set liner notes the band reportedly recorded the following tracks, 'See the Changes', 'Prison Song', 'And So It Goes', 'Human Highway', 'Little Blind Fish' and 'Through My Sails". I, as the 'rock room', have also taken the liberty to include the following songs to the list, based on the circulating reunion concert that took place at a Stephen Stills and Manassas show in October of 1973. The compositions,'As I Come Of Age', 'New Mama', and 'Roll Another Number' have been added. These tunes were freshly preformed when Crosby, Nash and Young joined Stills unannounced for his acoustic set and played off the cuff renditions. I assert that these songs were also in the running for the LP, based on their workout at this performance during the records formative stages. The songs I have listed total up to nine tunes for the hypothetical LP, which leaves room for one more song based on Nash's assertion of ten tracks.

     This is honestly a guess on my part, but there are available choices of songs to fill that last slot. "Hawaiian Sunrise", an unreleased Young track fits the bill, and is somewhat an obvious choice because of its Hawaiian genesis, and subsequent performances by the group. David Crosby's 'Time After Time" is also a possibility due to its being composed around this time, and because of the lack of Crosby songs on the hypothetical LP. So for the case of representation I will include the Crosby song on my version of 'Human Highway'. The track listing I have developed is based on my own feeling of flow and balance, there is obviously no way I can find the true proposed track listing, so it is what it is.

Young's song 'Traces', Stills 'First Things First' as well as Nash's 'Another Sleep Song' are also candidates for slots on the album, but alas there are only ten hypothetical spots so these songs will remain 'on the beach'. I believe this album could have the defining moment for the fragile super group and it was a great joy digging into the possibilities for its creation. For experts on this topic who may ruminate about such things, I have steered away from the post 1974 tour recordings and have focused my constructed LP on tracks recorded in 1973 and early 1974. I am a wealth of useless rock knowledge, but I am no expert and my vault access is limited. I also realize that some folks may disagree with the 'Little Blind Fish' addition, but I believe regardless of its late 1974 recording date, it was a contender for the LP. I now present to you the 'rock room' version of CSNY 'Human Highway' side A.

'See The Changes'-(Stephen Stills)-Released on the 1991 CSN box set, the actual CSNY version from 'Broken Arrow' 1973 finally found its way into the daylight. A jaunty acoustic track with the meshing of the Stills/Young acoustic guitars the songs defining hallmark. The song rolls with a confident wavy gate and speaks to me that it would be a fitting opener for the LP. Definitive CSNY vocals on this one. With personal Stills lyrics reflecting on age and universal life questions, the tune is one of Stills finest and most honest compositions or the time. This song would remain unheard until the 1977 CSN LP. This version is soaked in a sweet soul.
See The Changes

'Prison Song'-(Graham Nash)-There is a CSNY version of this song that floats around in traders circles and was actually broadcast on radio some years ago.(it actually can be found on You Tube now!-see below) So, it now can be confirmed this song was slated for the eventual LP. The song deals with the silly marijuana drug laws that still haven't changed in the forty years since the songs composition. The tune is supported by some watery keyboard work by Nash, and some fireside overlapping echo vocals by Stephen and Neil on the chorus. Young lays down some shimmery vibrato guitar lines from his 'White Falcon' on the outro that reflect on Nash's perky harp blasts. The officially released version can be found on Graham Nash's 1974 LP 'Wild Tales".
Prison Song

'New Mama'-(Neil Young)-While no documentation exists of a studio CSNY version of this track, a version circulates of the quartet preforming it during the 1973 Winterland Reunion. I believe this song would have been on the album without a doubt as Stills would end up recording it for his 1975 self titled LP 'Stills" and Neil for 'Tonight's the Night". A moody but delicate song that spotlights the CSNY blend, both Neil and Stephen would 'rock' the song up a bit for their respective versions. The track feels tailor made for CSNY and its a shame that it never received that treatment officially.
CSNY Winterland 1973 Concert

'Little Blind Fish'-(CSNY)-The only song ever composed by all four members of CSNY, 'Little Blind Fish" is a pleasant ditty opening with Crosby/Nash solo vocals, before blossoming into a wah wah drenched funky groove that contains shared vocals by Young, Stills, and Crosby. I realize that this track was recorded for the pre 1974 tour rehearsals, but it has been said that this song was in the running for 'Human Highway' hence its inclusion here. I struggled between this and the Stills song 'First Things First' which is another rumored song that would infuse the LP with some ethnic percussion and a unique groove. But because 'Little Blind Fish' is a true collaboration I decided to place it here. A track that needed some future work and touch ups but an important addition nonetheless.
Little Blind Fish
Alternate Song Choice: 'First Things First'-(Stills)- Preformed on the 1974 tour this song benefited from great percussion by Stills and Joe Lala as well as stinging Young guitar licks. My personal preference in the song are the CSN infused chorus lines. Song would see official release on the 1975 album 'Stills'

'Roll Another Number (For the Road)'-(Young) In my original line up for the album I had Young's 'Pushed It Over the End" closing side one. 'Pushed It Over the End" was a dark highlight of the 1974 tour with the entire band getting off on it. The sog remains unreleased except for its appearance on the 'B' side of an imported 7" single. Upon further research and reflection I believe that this planned album had more of an "acoustic" vibe as witnessed by the casual Hawaii island rehearsals and the caliber of the more acoustic based songs that were being composed. I also tend to think that "Pushed It Over the End" was composed later than the working sessions for the LP. This is all speculation on my part, but in the end I believe "Roll Another Number" nestles at the end of side one nicely in the context of the surrounding tracks. A classic Young tune with funny and surreal lyrics, topped off with a singalong chorus. Performed at Winterland reunion 1973. The song eventually would end up on Young's 'Tonight's the Night'.
CSNY Winterland Concert
Alternate Song Choice: 'Pushed It Over the End'-(Young)-One of Neil's most legendary unreleased tracks, I hope this song would have ended up on the LP, but I have never been able to confirm that it was planned for it. the song was performed numerous times on the 74 tour and often reached wonderful heights.

THE B SIDE

'Human Highway'-(Young)- The song that gave the proposed LP its title and one of Young's most melodically pleasing compositions. Every time CSNY would preform this number their voices soared into swirling sleek vocal blends and cumulus cloud harmonies. Crosby was quoted as saying this song is the reason the group got back together to record. Young and Stills would share vocals on live versions with Crosby/Nash lifting the chorus, and again, the intertwining of Stills and Young's guitars soak the number in rich personality and give it its sturdy bones. There is a studio CSNY version that circulates on bootlegs from the abandoned 1976 sessions, otherwise the song would not see an official release until Young's 1978 'Comes a Time' LP. The version from that album in my opinion pails in comparison to any CSNY performance.
Human Highway (Live 1974)

'As I Come Of Age'-(Stills)-A song performed as far back as the 1970 CSNY tour, Stephen had been looking for a home for this amazing piano based ballad since its inception. One gets the feeling he was holding on to it until it could grace a CSNY album, as it would not see release until his 1975 'Stills' LP after all hopes of a CSNY LP had been dashed. In my opinion some of Stills truest words and most haunting melodic lines. A sparse song that speaks volumes in its delicate content.The official version from 'Stills' 1975 features Crosby and Nash on vocals.
As I Come Of Age (Live 1974)

'And So It Goes'-(Nash)-A song that was recorded at Young's ranch for the 'Human Highway' LP but which no CSNY version has circulated. The group performed the song at the Winterland reunion in a rendition that featured Young on some rainy gutter honkey tonk piano. A perfectly catchy Graham Nash song with a unforgettable chorus. An edgy tune that has the feeling of a Young composed track with its shady chord structure. The song would eventually see release on Nash's 'Wild Tales' LP, an album that contained many songs that were planned to be Nash's contributions to 'Human Highway'
CSNY Winterland Concert

'Time After Time'-(Crosby)-One of the most tender melodies ever composed by Crosby, and a highlight of the 1974 acoustic sets. Especially amazing when the other members of the group would trickle out and add their voices to the song from the deep of stage's shadows. The song would finally make its official appearance on the Crosby/Nash 1976 LP 'Whistling Down To the Wire'. ' 'Time After Time' was never confirmed to have been recorded at 'Broken Arrow' in 1973, but I have taken the liberty to add it to the hypothetical LP. The track was composed around the same period, preformed on the 74 tour, and it fills the Crosby slot nicely.
Time After Time (Live 1974)
Alternate Song Choice: Hawaiian Sunrise-(Young)- Left off of my hypothetical LP because of the amount of Young songs already on the album. The cut is an obvious choice for the record, but basing my LP on the ten tracks mentioned by Nash, this one had to be bumped in favor of a Crosby tune. This is  testament to how prolific Young was during this time period with numerous unreleased songs and even entire albums! An acoustic song in the Hawaiian folk style that sways like a grass Hula skirt in a warm sandy breeze. There are fine CSNY versions available from the 1974 tour.

'Through My Sails'-(Young)- A song that would eventually close Young's 1975 LP 'Zuma", the tune takes the same position on this fantasy album. The song feels like sand, ocean, and sky with quintessential CSNY vocals dressing the sparse percussion and acoustic guitar instrumentation resulting in an intimate blend. I am of the opinion that this song was worked on in Hawaii and was a contender for 'Human Highway' based on the songs lyrical content and how Young still used the full CSNY line up even on a 1975 Crazy Horse LP. One of the best "lost" CSNY songs, even though it  eventually found its way to a commercial release.
Through My Sails (CSNY)

     There are numerous different possibilities and track line ups for the unreleased 'Human Highway' album. While compiling my version I paid special consideration to the tracks confirmed to be contenders for the LP, actually recorded for the album, and then used corroborating evidence from multiple sources from the 'rock room' to fill in the blanks for the rest of the LP. The period of 1972 to 1976 is a strange one for CSNY, as up to three different attempts were made at creating cohesive albums. The songs and recordings made ended up being unreleased, forgotten, performed, and sprawled out over the quartets solo and joint projects. If one of these attempts were successful I am of the opinion that the resulting album would have been legendary and a defining statement for the quartet. Nash was quoted as saying in the Zimmer biography, "Because its hard- you get so high with the prospect of doing a great album that the temptation to just put up with other peoples bullshit is great. But this just turned to a piece of shit." Its unfortunate, because the songs being brought in were great, even in some cases being held onto specifically for a CSNY album. It's sad that the individual egos could not be kept in check, eventually getting in the way of some great music. So is the tale of CSNY.

     I hope fans of the group find my article informative and use it as a road map to create or listen to their own "Human Highway". The period of time which this music was being created was prolific and resulted in many timeless classics being birthed, but lost in the context of their development. Like my previous blog entry about the great lost Kinks LP, its an interesting chore to look at how and why these LPs ended up covered by the sands of time, and eventually forgotten about by their respective creator's.The possibilities are endless. Thankfully the music exists in some form for my rock fantasies and our listening pleasure.