CSN [Box Set]
This 77-track, four-CD set remains one of the best boxes devoted to a single music act that one can buy, covering the output of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young across 22 years, from 1968 until 1990. The first thing that becomes apparent, beyond the excellent sound (which was a revelation at the time, when only extant editions of the group's work were the early, substandard CD editions), is the sheer worth of the material. Crosby, Stills & Nash's reputation, based on their first four albums, can be taken as a given for anyone who would think of buying this set, and it does cover virtually every base that one could involving the trio, with an occasional Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cut included for completeness' sake. Disc one by itself should be worth the price of the set to serious fans, eight of its 18 tracks being previously unissued songs (including a version of the Beatles' "Blackbird") and unissued early demos, alternate takes, or variant mixes on songs from the Crosby, Stills & Nash or Déjà Vu albums, along with one Crosby & Nash outtake. Disc two is similarly filled with previously unheard songs and versions of songs, although here the rarities are more focused on material by Stephen Stills (including a Crosby, Stills & Young version of "Black Queen"), Graham Nash solo, and the Crosby & Nash duo. Disc three is devoted more to Manassas and Crosby & Nash, but does work in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Taken at All" and "See the Changes" from various attempts at doing albums. Disc four takes listeners up to 1990, with Stills, Nash, and Crosby solo material (including unissued live and studio cuts) of the '80s interspersed with released Crosby, Stills & Nash tracks and previously unissued Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young tracks. The accompanying booklet includes a sessionography and reminiscence about each track, and as most of this set is presented in chronological order, one not only gets a dazzling four-hour-plus song-by-song listening experience, but also what amounts to a montage/history of the group and their members across more than two decades.