Lost Classics? “Allies,” Crosby, Stills & Nash


Stills and Crosby, Houston 1977

To help us get in the mood to make the trek up to New York for the 40th anniversary of Woodstock (August 15), I made a couple of mix CDs with some music of the era and in doing so I marveled at how well much of that stuff still holds up today.  (Well, it may depend on how old you are and what you’ve been smoking …)

And I wondered how often did some of these acts go astray in the ensuing years?  Here’s an example: Allies, a 1983 mostly live effort from Woodstock vets Crosby, Stills and Nash.

In 1977 I saw CSN at the Summit in Houston – they had put out the highly successful CSN album that year and scored a radio hit: the Graham Nash-penned “Just A Song Before I Go.”  The album itself would have been No. 1, but it was kept out of the top spot by a little thing called Rumours.

Anyway, CSN in Houston sounded pretty good, Stephen Stills played great and David Crosby hadn’t spiraled into drug-induced insanity yet.  Cut to 1983 – CSN’s  hit album from the year before, Daylight Again, anchored by “Wasted On The Way” and “Southern Cross,” is still on the charts.  They are approached by Hollywood to write a song for an upcoming movie about a kid who hacks into the top-secret U.S. Defense computer system, taking the world to the brink of a nuclear war.

Stills wrote the protest song “War Games,” which was the name of the movie, and it was featured on MTV with clips from the film.  But when the movie came out the song was nowhere to be found.  Stills and Nash wrote another studio Alliessong, “Raise A Voice” and Atlantic decided to package these two tunes with some live concert tracks of recent vintage.  The LP included “Wasted On The Way,” a version of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” (which CSN performed in 1969 at Woodstock) and Stills’ old Buffalo Springfield warhorse “For What It’s Worth.”

Two of the live tracks – “Shadow Captain” and “For Free,” both David Crosby spotlights – came from the 1977 Houston show because Crosby was too wasted in 1982-83 to really do anything usable on an album.  Maybe Allies wasn’t the best package in the world, and fans didn’t buy it so it faded from sight quickly.   To date, the album still hasn’t been released on CD in the United States, although versions have emerged in the U.K. and Japan.  “Raise A Voice” has come out digitally, however, as a bonus track on the Daylight Again CD.

Crosby, Stills and Nash (with Neil Young) toured last year and put out the weirdly entertaining Déjà Vu Live CD and movie.  CSN are in the studio right now recording an album of rock covers with, of all people, Rick Rubin.

MP3: “War Games”

MP3: “Wasted On The Way” (live)

MP3: “Shadow Captain” (live)

Crosby, Stills & Nash official website

2 Responses to “Lost Classics? “Allies,” Crosby, Stills & Nash”

  1. JOHN Z. Says:

    The tension between Stills & Young which fueled possibly the greatest on stage duelling guitar rivalries would probably cause mass implosions in most young bands today. They were able to harness that energy and play off each other like no other band before or since. Like two brothers from different mothers, this manic love/hate relationship began in the Buffalo Springfield days and continues to this day. Although the intensity has diminished in recent years, the sibling rivalry that occured during performances of ‘Southern Man’ would leave you wondering when the guitars would be dropped in favor of fisticuffs. Instead, however, the winners would be the audience who were witnessing far more than a band playing a song – there was obviously much more at stake here. Even then they were competing for their place in rock-n-roll history. Crosby and Nash and the rest of the band generally just observed in awe fully aware of the magic taking place before their eyes and ears.

  2. John W. Byler Says:

    I have this album on an original CD. One of my most prized possessions.

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