Thursday, July 10, 2014

Revisiting a Classic: CSNY - Looking Forward!

It’s hard to believe that it has been 15 years since any new studio albums appeared in stores from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Of course, the quartet has made many appearances and even toured since, but their last studio album, Looking Forward, was released in October 1999. This is the eighth studio album for CSN and the third to feature Neil.


This album began as a CSN album, but after their label Atlantic dropped them due to low sales, they started funding recording on their own dime. It was around this time that Neil Young joined in making it a CSNY LP. Also, when Neil got involved, his label Reprise decided to pursue the album with them.


Even though it is not their best remembered effort, this LP does have some great moments. The song Slowpoke is my favorite. It has Neil handling the lead vocals and CSN coming in for their ever famous harmonies at the chorus. It’s a very slow tempo acoustic song with Neil’s reflective lyrics, harmonica, and a pedal steel guitar giving it that Harvest/Harvest Moon/Prairie Wind feel.

Another honorable mention is Crosby’s Dream For Him. It has a cool rhythm guitar with lots of hammer-on’s and palm mutes as well as a very clean lead guitar playing throughout the vocals. Plus the drummer (Joe Vitale on this tune) uses this catchy jazz style hi-hat rhythm that works well. This is a deep song looking for ways to discuss difficult issue such as death, lies and politics to a child. It has great lyrics and singing in this tune, plus I love that you can still hear the protesting hippie side of Crosby in his songs.


Stills and Nash also contributed on the album, handling the lead on their share. Stills’ opening track Faith in Me has a real Caribbean feel to it which is fun and Nash handles a few beautiful slow songs: Heartland and Someday Soon.


Even if this album is not recognized as one of their best, with these four strong songwriters creating an album together, you know it’s going to be pretty damn good and in my opinion it’s great! Plus, you know when CSNY gets together they always include an all-star list of studio musicians on their albums and Looking Forward is no exception. Some of my favorite musicians appear on this album including Spooner Oldham on keyboards, Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass and Ben Keith on pedal steel  (there are many more musicians involved in this album, but these are just three particular names that jumped out at me).

This album has been out of print for a long time now, but one good part of this digital era is that the music is still easily available even if the physical copies are getting trickier to find. I have yet to find it on vinyl but for now I’ll make do with my CD copy.


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