[Review] Graham Nash: Earth & Sky (1980)

Graham’s first solo album of the 80s sounds like the better halves of the last two C&N albums fused together.

Koronomyth 3.0: Whistling down the water.

I read on the Internet (and, hooray, it still sounds illegitimate!) that Graham Nash had intended to keep the Crosby & Nash bicycle upright, but David Crosby wasn’t up to it, so he went ahead and peddled Earth & Sky on his own. (I don’t know if Crosby had to pull out or something, but I’m sure I don’t want to think about it. Really, really sure.)

His first “solo” album since Wild Tales (the C&N albums were half solo, or Han’s half-brother), Earth & Sky covers a pretty wide range: ballads, midtempo rockers, social stingers. It’s not a landmark album any more than the Crosby & Nash albums were, since for CS&N most roads pointed to the past (only Neil Young kept moving forward). But it’s a professional, even sharp, session with some good material: “It’s All Right,” “Out on the Island,” “Magical Child.”

Nash was usually good for a few songs on the CS&N albums; his tastes have always leaned toward treacly Anglophile pop, and I count on him for the sweet stuff. Nothing here is on the level of an “Our House,” and in fact I rarely walk away from this album humming anything. So, I return to it periodically, suspecting my mild review guilty of softness, and walk away from it mildly charmed again.

I’ve heard too many underwhelming solo albums from the Seventies (Chris Hillman, Jay Ferguson, Stephen Stills) to mistake the middle of the barrel with the black, gooey bottom. Earth & Sky is mead from the middle barrel, intoxicating for a short spell just like those Crosby & Nash albums. Songs for Beginners is still the place to start and then, well, you’ve probably got things to do. But Earth & Sky has a place in the world of CS&N alongside Wind on the Water, Whistling Down the Wire and the west of the woods cut from this intewesting axis.

Original elpee version

A1. Earth & Sky (3:34)
A2. Love Has Come (3:47)
A3. Out On The Island (4:16)
A4. Skychild (3:53)
A5. Helicopter Song (2:43)
B1. Barrel of Pain (Half-Life) (5:21)
B2. T.V. Guide (Joe Vitale/Graham Nash) (1:54)
B3. It’s All Right (3:12)
B4. Magical Child (3:40)
B5. In The 80’s (3:05)

All songs written by Graham Nash unless noted

The Players

Graham Nash (vocals, guitars, piano, organ, harmonica, string arrangement), Craig Doerge (piano, organ, string arrangement), Tim Drummond (bass), Russell Kunkel (drums, percussion), David Lindley (guitars) and Joe Vitale (drums, percussion, flute, synthesizer, piano) with John Brennan (guitar), Jackson Browne (backing vocals on track 2), Cece Bullard (background vocals), Gloria Coleman (background vocals), David Crosby (backing vocals, guitar), Brenda Eager (background vocals), Wayne Goodwin (string arrangements, conductor & player), Armando Hurley (background vocals on track 2), Cleo Kennedy (background vocals), Danny Kortchmar (guitar), Leah Kunkel (background vocals), Joe Lala (percussion), Nicolette Larson (background vocals on track 2), Steve Lukather (lead guitar on track 2), Jackson Nash (harmonica on track 9 and son of Graham), George Perry (bass), Stephen Stills (guitar) and Joe Walsh (guitars). Produced by Graham Nash and Stanley Johnston; engineered by Stanley Johnston, Steve Gursky, Ronnie & Howie Albert and Jerry Hudgins.

The Pictures

Album art direction by Joel Bernstein (photography and a little acoustic guitar too!) and Gary Burden.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on February 15, 1980 in the US and UK (Capitol, SWAK/4XN-12014), France (Capitol, 2C 070-86.011), Italy (Capitol, 3C 064-86011) and Japan (Capitol, ECS-81268) with gatefold cover and lyrics innersleeve. Reached #117 on the US charts.

  1. Re-released on 24-bit remastered compact disc on July 17, 2001 in France (Magic, 1982202).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *