Buffalo Springfield

Box Set (Atco/Elektra/Rhino)

This long-awaited four-CD collection contains nearly every song commercially released by Buffalo Springfield, the short-lived but seminal Los Angeles-based rock band. In fact, disc four presents, in their entirety, newly remastered versions of the group's first two albums: Buffalo Springfield and Buffalo Springfield Again, its masterpiece. And most of the songs from Last Time Around, a mixed bag assembled after the band broke up in 1968, can be found on disc three.

What makes Box Set so compelling -- and well worth its $59.98 list price -- is the large number of outstanding unreleased demo recordings, many of them written and performed by Neil Young, who assembled the collection. Gems like "There Goes My Baby," "Down Down Down," "One More Sign," "The Rent Is Always Due," and "Whatever Happened To Saturday Night?" make it clear that Young was never quite able to stretch his wings during his tenure with the group. (No wonder he and Stephen Stills, the band's dominant figure, feuded.) He wasn't even allowed to sing some of his own songs: "Flying on the Ground Is Wrong" and "On the Way Home" were both handled in the studio by Richie Furay. Luckily, we now have Young's original demo of the former, and it's far superior to the version that appeared on the band's first album.

Stills, too, was something of a songwriting machine, producing one potential hit after another. (Buffalo Springfield's other members were drummer Dewey Martin and bassist Bruce Palmer, who eventually was replaced by Jim Messina.) Among the highlights of Box Set are a number of Stills's unreleased demo songs, including the bluesy "Come On," the catchy "Baby Don't Scold Me" and the delicate "So You've Got a Lover." Furay could also hold his own as both a writer and a singer; check out his wistful 1966 demo "Can't Keep Me Down." Then there are the familiar songs: "For What It's Worth," "Mr. Soul," "Expecting to Fly," "Bluebird," "Rock & Roll Woman," "Broken Arrow," "Kind Woman." They're all here, and they sound as fresh today as they must have thirty years ago.

Last year, on his Silver & Gold album, Neil Young recorded a song titled "Buffalo Springfield Again." In a voice tinged with nostalgia, he sang, "Used to play in a rock and roll band/ But they broke up/We were young and we were wild/It ate us up." Then he teased, "I'd like to see those guys again/And give it a shot/Maybe now we can show the world/What we've got." But don't hold your breath waiting for a Buffalo Springfield reunion. Go out and buy Box Set instead.

 
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