Graham Nash

Rhino, 2009

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Graham Nash has just released a three-disc career-spanning box set. His musical journey is traced from his earliest work with British Invasion group The Hollies to his latest solo recordings.

For most of his career, Graham Nash has flown somewhat under the radar. His work with The Hollies was part of a group effort and was often overshadowed by the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who, among others. He was an important part of Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) but was never the most prominent member. His work with David Crosby and his solo releases have ranged from pleasant to interesting but have never gained huge commercial success. As a result, I questioned whether he could provide enough quality material to fill a box set.

I have to say that my concerns about the quality and quantity of Graham Nash’s material have been alleviated. I can think of a number of tracks that were worthy of inclusion but have been left out. This is particularly true of his Hollies material, which is given only a passing glance.

Reflections was well thought out and assembled. The sixty-four tracks are wisely presented in chronological order. There are also thirty-two alternative and previously unreleased tracks which help to keep it interesting. A spectacular one hundred plus page book is also included in which Graham Nash comments upon and reflects about each track. On the opposite page from each comment is a photograph that matches the era of the song. It all adds up to a complete look at not only his career but also provides a nice glimpse into the last half century.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As mentioned previously, his music with The Hollies is virtually passed over. Only three tracks are included, and “On A Carousel,” “Carrie Anne” and “King Midas In Reverse” only hint at the brilliance of the group’s output.

Five tracks are included from the classic days of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. I had forgotten that he had written such songs as “Marrakesh Express,” “Our House” and “Teach Your Children” and while they have been released a number of times, they are still an enjoyable listen. “Lady Of The Island” is a forgotten old friend. This gentle love song only contains Nash’s acoustic guitar and a vocal with David Crosby.

Nash’s solo career now extends back to the early 1970’s and there have been some ups and downs. His early material, such as “Simple Man,” “Military Madness,” “Chicago/We Can Change The World” and “Wild Tales,” is excellent. His later material does not have the overall appeal of his ‘70s work and sometimes they seem to just disappear. While newer and unreleased material such as “We Breathe The Same Air,” “Behind The Shades” and “In Your Name” are superior to most of his ‘80s and early ‘90s output, it still pales when compared to his early work.

His mid-career Crosby, Stills, and Nash material is better that I remembered. Their vocals have always been strong and “Song For Susan,” an unreleased mix of “Cathedral,” “Wasted On The Way” and the unreleased “Lonely Man” all highlight Nash’s writing skills and his virtuosity at harmonizing with his longtime partners.

I have always enjoyed Nash’s collaborations with David Crosby. He seems to be able to keep Crosby’s excesses under control and their voices just fit together so well. “Southbound Train,” which features Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar, the lulling ““Marguerita and 2004’s “Live On (The Wall),” which is a tender and poignant look at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, are excellent examples of their combined talents.

Reflections is an epic release by one of rock’s survivor’s. It is the musical statement and legacy of a man whose work spans not only time but many of the events that have shaped our modern world. As such, it requires not only respect but a careful listen as well.

Rating: A-

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© 2009 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rhino, and is used for informational purposes only.