[Review] Buffalo Springfield: Again (1967)

Remember when David Crosby started writing songs in The Byrds? It’s like that, only better.

Kronomyth 2.0: Expected to fly with The Byrds.

Between 1966 and 1969, rock and roll progressed at a remarkable rate. Everyone was listening to everyone else, studios had become experimental laboratories of sound and musicians pushed their own creative limits with complex song structures. Buffalo Springfield Again is a kind of miniature portrait of that progression. Although billed under the Buffalo Springfield brand, the album is really a collection of solo songs recorded with and without the band. If the band were breaking apart (and they were), they were doing it while individually advancing at breakneck speed.

The material from Neil Young (“Mr. Soul,” “Expecting To Fly,” “Broken Arrow”) represents some of the most ambitious rock/pop of its day. Stills’ songs are also uniformly excellent, anticipating the heavenly harmonies to come with CS&N on “Rock & Roll Woman” and showing some sophisticated pop sensibilities on “Bluebird” and “Everydays.” Furay also appears as a creative force on the record, contributing to the early country/rock canon with “A Child’s Claim To Fame” and “Sad Memory” while adding a completely unexpected soul workout, “Good Time Boy,” featuring drummer Dewey Martin on vocals. The album is really a brilliant patchwork of different pieces; no two tracks have the same lineup or producer.

The album’s back cover acknowledges an eclectic set of influences, from Gene Pitney to Frank Zappa, which is borne out in the music on Buffalo Springfield Again. But it’s The Beatles (not mentioned save for lovable Ringo) and The Byrds who set the late 60s sonic revolution in motion by laboring longly over their songs in the studio. Prior to that, rock records (like jazz) were recorded in a few days. After The Beatles, musicians began to see each song as an opportunity to “say” something, and didn’t want to appear dull by repeating themselves. And Buffalo Springfield Again is definitely not dull. It is, rather, a quantum leap forward from their last album and the source of probably 80% of the Buffalo Springfield’s most enduring music.

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Original LP Version

A1. Mr. Soul (Neil Young) (2:35)
A2. A Child’s Claim To Fame (Richie Furay) (2:09)
A3. Everydays (Steve Stills) (2:38)
A4. Expecting To Fly (Neil Young) (3:39)
A5. Bluebird (Steve Stills) (4:29)
B1. Hung Upside Down (Steve Stills) (3:24)
B2. Sad Memory (Richie Furay) (3:00)
B3. Good Time Boy (Richie Furay) (2:11)
B4. Rock & Roll Woman (Steve Stills) (2:44)
B5. Broken Arrow (Neil Young) (6:13)

The Players

Richie Furay (rhythm guitar, vocals), Dewey Martin (drums, vocals on B3), Bruce Palmer (bass), Steve Stills (rhythm guitar, lead guitar, organ, electric piano, vocals), Neil Young (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, vocals) with James Burton (dobro on A2), Charlie Chin (banjo on A5), David Crosby (inspiration on B4), Jim Fielder (bass on A3), Horn section of the American Soul Train from Louisiana (arrangements on B3), Jack Nitzsche (electric piano on A4), Don Randi (grand piano on A4, piano on B5), Chris Sarns (guitar on B5), Bobby West (bass on A5). Produced by Charlie Greene and Brian Stone with a little help from their friends (A1), Richie Furay (A2/B2), Steve Stills, Neil Young and Ahmet Ertegun (A3), produced & arranged by Neil Young and Jack Nitzsche (A4), Steve Stills with Ahmet Ertegun (A5), Steve Stills (B1), executive producer: Dewey Martin (B3), Steve Stills and Neil Young (B4), Neil Young (B5); engineered by Ross Myering (A2), Bruce Botnick (A4/A5), Jim Messina (B1/B5), William Brittan and Bill Lazarus (B2).

The Pictures

Cover illustration by Eve Babitz. Liner notes by Buffalo Springfield. Album design by Loring Eutemey.

The Plastic

Released on mono and stereo elpee on November 18, 1967 in the US (Atco, 33-226/SD 33-226) and Japan (Large World, LW-360).

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Atco, SD 33-226), the UK (Atlantic, K 40014) and in 1971 in Japan (Atlantic, P-8054A). There are multiple label variations to distinguish the US re-issues, most of which appear on the yellow Atco label. The first reissue features the Broadway address, the second reissue features the Rockefeller address, the third reissue features the Rockefeller address and has the album title above the band name on the label (as opposed to below it), the fourth (?) reissue featured a “Super Saver Series” sticker on the cover, and the fifth (?) reissue featured the 1980’s Atco gray/white label.
  2. Re-issued on compact disc and cassette in 1988 in the US (Atco, 33-226-2/CS 33-226) and Germany (Atco, 90391-2).
  3. Re-released on remastered super high material compact disc on December 10, 2008 in Japan (Atco, WPCR-13278).
  4. Re-issued on remastered compact disc on July 24, 2013 in Japan (Atco, WPCR-75674).
  5. Re-issued on remastered compact disc on January 19, 2017 in Japan (Atco, WPCR-80362).

The Picayune

Buffalo Springfield Again is frequently cited as one of the greatest rock records ever made. Rolling Stone named it #188 on their 500 greatest albums of all time, and Robert Dimery included it in his book, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (which, unfortunately, wasn’t included in Peter Boxall’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, presenting consumers with a catch-22, which did make the list, and if you get the sense that I’m poking fun at these lists, then you can safely forgo the 1001 Things That You Need Other People To Tell You Because You’re Too Stupid To Figure It Out For Yourself list, or at least cross “detect sarcasm” off that list.)

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