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The Story of Buffalo Springfield
During their three years of existence Buffalo Springfield gave form to extremely calibrated, energetic and intense compositions, shared for the most part between Stills and Young. The first album, Buffalo Springfield (Atco, 1966), owes much of its character to Stills, to his soft and catchy ballads made of small guitar licks and deep and slow vocal phrases: the country-pop Go And Say Goodbye, the protest song For What It' s Worth, the simple yet charming refrain in Sit Down the Think the Love You. Furay contributes Flying On The Ground Is Wrong while a young Neil Young begins to fight his own inner ghosts with Out Of My Mind. The novelty however, was in their playing style, one of the most creative of 1966. The three guitars crafted surrealistic harmonies, while Bruce Palmer and the drummer Dewey Martin remain to date one of most supple rhythm sections of all time.
Palmer (deported back to Canada on drugs-related offences) was replaced by Jim Fielder on Stampede, that has never been released.
Their masterpiece Buffalo Springfield Again (Atco, 1967), avails itself of a futuristic production and great, compact jamming. Blue Bird is Stills' unsurpassed masterpiece, a high visionary canto with a long, twisting instrumental break. Stills is also author of the easier Rock And Roll Woman and Hung Upside Down. Furay contributes another country-pop jewel, A Child's Claim To Fame.
Meanwhile, Neil Young begins to reinvent the ballad for the loner, adapting it to the dark neurosis of modern society. His sick and disconsolate voice intones the dark, threatening melody of Mr. Soul. Then there is Broken Arrow, six minutes of mysticism and twisted autobiography, his first masterpiece, a ballad for piano on the "American dream" whose martial stanzas are separated by eccentric sound clips (crowd noise, hurdy-gurdy, electronic effects, a string section, a drum roll, lounge-jazz), an epic gallop along the exhausted realms of memory, where man loses more than once. Expecting To Fly is almost as intense, opening with cosmic effects, suspended by a vocal of tender delirium, an impalpable melody lifted by violins through psychedelic flight (orchestral arrangement provided by Jack Nitzsche).
Last Time Around (Atco, 1969) released after the band's breakup, was patched together by the record label. It includes Furay's Kind Woman, which continues the country-rock development of folk-rock, and Young's On The Way Home.
By the time of the breakup, in 1968 (with Jim Messina, a veteran of a surf band at the bass), Buffalo Springfield had become like the Byrds, a great patriarchal family, and their last studio sessions gave the sense of the turn toward country-rock that each member would take. Ritchie Furay and Jim Messina went on to form Poco. Stills formed Crosby Stills Nash & Young, the natural extension of Buffalo Springfield, and later Manassas. Neil Young went on to became one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Bruce Palmer recorded only one album, but one that ranks as a masterpiece of psychedelic music.
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