Crosby, Stills & Nash: Allies (1983)

Eh, usually I’d write something cynical here about allies for the almighty dollar (alles unter die gelp), but this contains too many good performances for me to grouse. The opening pair of tracks are new songs recorded live in Los Angeles, heavy on Stills and light on Crosby, with Nash mashed somewhere in the middle. From there it’s a straight live album (the first two songs could pass for studio tracks), the bulk of it coming from a 1982 show in Universal City, California. Honestly, there’s hardly any rust in songs like “Wasted On The Way,” “Dark Star” and “Blackbird.” Even Nash’s “Barrel of Pain,” which was easy to overlook on the mediocre Earth & Sky, sounds better in this setting, suggesting a sort of Pink Floyd undercurrent that I didn’t hear the first time. And it gets better: two tunes from a 1977 show in Houston, “Shadow Captain” and Crosby’s rendition of “He Played Real Good For Free.” (Because you would have to travel back in time to find a good Crosby performance.) The backing band is predictably solid, including Michael Finnigan (who steals the spotlight from Nash on “Barrel of Pain”), George “Chocolate” Perry and Joe Vitale. The way they funk up a song like “For What It’s Worth” is a treat, and together with strong harmonies from (purportedly) Crosby, Stills & Nash, this feels like prime time CS&N rather than a band past its prime. Allies didn’t chart particularly well, didn’t sell a lot of copies and it was another five years until they’d get around to working together again. Still, this album is enough to rekindle the hope pregnant in the magic glyph of CSN, a reminder that wasted time doesn’t equate to tarnished memories.

Original LP Version
A1. War Games (Stephen Stills) (2:18)
A2. Raise A Voice (Graham Nash/Stephen Stills) (2:31)
A3. Turn Your Back On Love (Stephen Stills/Graham Nash/Michael Stergis) (5:04)
A4. Barrel of Pain (Graham Nash) (5:46)
A5. Shadow Captain (Words by David Crosby, Music by Craig Doerge) (4:30)
B1. Dark Star (Stephen Stills) (4:48)
B2. Blackbird (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) (2:30)
B3. He Played Real Good For Free (Joni Mmitchell) (3:48)
B4. Wasted On The Way (Graham Nash) (2:37)
B5. For What It’s Worth (Stephen Stills) (5:38)

The Players
David Crosby (vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar), Graham Nash (vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar), Stephen Stills (vocals, guitar, keyboadrs, lead guitar, acoustic guitar), James Newton Howard (keyboards), George “Chocolate” Perry (bass), Joe Vitale (drums) with Craig Doerge (keyboards, acoustic piano, synthesizer), Michael Finnigan (keyboards, vocals), Danny Kortchmar (guitar), Joe Lala (percussion), Jeff Porcaro (drums), Michael Stergis (rhythm guitar), Elrain Toro (percussion). Produced by Graham Nash, Stephen Stills and Stanley Johnston, with tracks A5/B3 co-produced by Ron Albert and Howard Albert; engineered by David Hewitt, Ron Aolbert, Howard Albert, Jay Parti, Stanley Johnston, Steve Gursky; mixed by Stanley Johnston and Steve Gursky.

The Pictures
Front cover/inner seleeve photography, concept and effects by David Peters. Back cover photography by Henry Diltz. Art direction/design by Jimmy Wachtel for Dawn Patrol.

The Plastic
Released on elpee, cassette and compact disc on June 6, 1983 in the US (Atlantic, 80075-1/4/2) and the UK and Germany (Atlantic, 78 0075-1/4) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #43 on the US charts.

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