Boxed Set (Rhino)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., July 13, 2001
Boxed Set (Rhino)Few American groups of the Sixties possessed as much talent as Buffalo Springfield. Formed in 1966, the band initially comprised guitarist/songwriters Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Richie Furay, with drummer Dewey Martin and bassist Bruce Palmer, who was later replaced by Jim Messina. The group embodied the spirit of L.A. folk rock during their relatively brief, yet intense, existence, and after their breakup in 1968, they went on as solo artists, and in collaboration, to form groups as influential as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Poco, and Loggins & Messina. Although best known for the Vietnam-era anthem "For What It's Worth," Buffalo Springfield was both amazingly prolific and startlingly original for their time, incorporating country instrumentation into their sound while using their vocal harmonies in unique ways. The 4-CD Boxed Set, then, is almost as extraordinary as the band was. Its first three discs are sequenced chronologically according to recording date; there are 36 demos, remixes, and other previously unreleased material among the set's 88 tracks, while the fourth disc contains remastered versions of the band's first two LPs in their entirety. Last Time Around, Buffalo Springfield's final album, isn't given similar treatment since at the time of its completion the band had broken up and was completed without full involvement of its members. Even then, all but two of that album's tracks are included on the first three discs. For Neil Young fans, many of the demos on Boxed Set are a treasure trove. Frequently, it's just Young and a guitar, and these selections offer an interesting glimpse into his first attempts as a songwriter. Still, for all its historical significance, Boxed Set is more of an interesting artifact than a cohesive listen. Some of the demos are just song snippets that barely last two minutes and while engaging the first time through, they don't hold up to repeated listens. It's the fourth disc that'll be revisited time and again. That alone probably makes Boxed Set a worthy investment.