Buffalo Springfield Again (Atco ‘67) Rating: A-
Buffalo Springfield are primarily remembered today for “For What Its Worth” (a quintessential ‘60s song from the band’s self-titled debut) and for serving as the launching pad for the careers of Neil Young, Stephen Stills, and Richie Furay. The band possessed awesome talent, led by those three singer/songwriter/guitarists, and Buffalo Springfield Again remains highly enjoyable today, over 40 years after its release. Neil Young delivers “Mr. Soul,” a song that’s still a concert favorite due to its strong melody and raw grungy guitars, and the dreamy “Expecting To Fly,” which is notable for Jack Nitzsche’s lush string arrangements, as is the ambitious, multi-sectioned (and mostly successful), at times waltz-like “Broken Arrow.” Neil would rarely go in the direction of these latter two songs again, though he thought enough of all three of them to include them on his own handpicked retrospective, Decade. For his part, Furay’s songwriting is tentative on the dreary ballad “Sad Memory” but yields better results on the energetic Otis Redding influenced “Good Time Boy,” which strangely enough is sung (with a rough enthusiasm) by drummer Dewey Martin. Where he really hits paydirt, however, is on the charming “A Child's Claim To Fame,” which foreshadowed the country rock direction Furay would take with his subsequent band, Poco. Stills checks in with the jazzy “Everydays,” a very good song (later covered by Yes) despite being mixed too low, and “Hung Upside Down,” another strong (Furay sung, at least on the verses) album track with a big overall sound, lots of raw guitar, and an overall toughness that some would accuse his later band (Crosby, Stills, & Nash) of lacking. Stills’ song here that most sounds like his harmony-laden later band is the excellent “Rock & Roll Woman,” while “Bluebird” is also one of his best efforts ever, being another intense rocker with pretty harmonies and guitars all over the place - that is until an unexpected banjo interlude takes the song to its conclusion. Throughout this short album the band veers from style to style (in contrast to the debut which was more strictly folk rock), and though they don’t all work equally well this was still an extremely impressive second album that's generally regarded as the band’s best (I definitely concur with this assessment). With Young leaving and rejoining the band continually and bassist Bruce Palmer getting deported on a regular basis, the band would implode soon after the release of Buffalo Springfield Again after a volatile two years together; Last Time Around was released post-breakup and is the least essential of the band’s three officially released studio albums.