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Like the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield were influential in the melding of rock and folk that led to the country-rock sound of the '70s. Neil Young and Stephen Stills were the main singers/songwriters, constantly battling for creative control of the group. From this tempestuous union came melodic rock that ranged from Young's waltz-flavoured "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" and the Beatlesque "Burned" (featuring Young's piano playing) to Stills' muscular guitar style on "Leave", which foreshadowed his subsequent work with Crosby, Stills & Nash. Fame came by way of Stills' "For What It's Worth", a moody song about a cops-versus-kids conflict on Sunset Boulevard. Two turbulent years and two albums later, Buffalo Springfield broke up, but they'd already blazed the trail for their disciples to follow.
Here's where Stephen Stills and Neil Young's on-and-off partnership fell apart for the first time. The liner notes to BS's debut album had announced, "Steve is the leader, but we all are" and described Neil Young as "hot and cold," which in retrospect seems like a warning. Young appears to have at least one foot out the door already, the ambitious "Broken Arrow" and "Expecting to Fly" clearly pointing toward a solo career. And for all the timeless excellence of Young's "Mr. Soul," it's Stills's "Bluebird" that defines Buffalo Springfield Again, much as his "For What It's Worth" defined its predecessor. In one song, the group demonstrates astonishing versatility (from rock to folk to bluegrass), without the saccharine touches that mar Stills's post-Springfield work. But for all their considerable recorded achievements, Buffalo Springfield always felt like a band that never reached its potential. --David Wolf
Last Time Around
Although this album was made amid the fragmentation of Buffalo Springfield, that fact is not apparent in retrospect. On the contrary, there is an appealingly gentle quality about the group's third and final album. As Jim Messina and Richie Furay (later to join together in Poco) took control of the group, they developed a pronounced country-rock feel. Young's premier contribution is "I Am a Child" and the then-prolific Stills hits the button with four gems: the plea for world unity, "Uno Mundo;" the song of a fugitive, "Four Days Gone;" "Special Care;" and the original "Questions". LAST TIME AROUND is a much better album than we could have expected from a band about to burst apart.
Buffalo Springfield's brief life span (essentially 1966-1968) was rich with promise but fraught with creative tensions. This friction ultimately fractured the band's core foundation of Stephen Stills and Neil Young. However, those same tensions--along with the formidable talents of Richie Furay and Jim Messina (replacing original bass player Bruce Palmer but assuming a broader production role)--created some truly enduring music.
With only three albums from which to draw, RETROSPECTIVE includes the entirety of the band's hits and many well-known album tracks. Looking back, Buffalo Springfield can be seen as the wellspring for much of what happened in popular music in the half-dozen years after the band's demise. From the country rock of Poco (which begat the Eagles) to Crosby, Stills & Nash--not to mention every turn in the ever-twisting road of Neil Young's career--it can all be traced right back to these tracks.
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