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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Burn a Bongload with Buffalo Springfield

Posted By on Tue, May 10, 2011 at 1:58 PM

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This week: Burn a bongload with Buffalo Springfield.

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Behind the buzz: Though perhaps not one of those Ice Capades-in-Hell moments, the Buffalo Springfield reunion is welcome news for weed rockers, retro-cultists, and hippies of every age. This accidental and short-lived folk-rock supergroup folded after three highly influential LPs that pretty much invented the 1960s California rock sound now being repackaged to the fauxhawk masses as "Americana." Bassist Bruce Palmer and drummer Dewey Martin are past all thoughts of touring, but survivors Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Ritche Furay decided on the basis of their extraordinarily well-received turn at this past Bridge School Benefit to take a retooled Springfield on a short road trip. They play the Fox Theater in Oakland on June 1 and 2; floor level tickets are already two hundred bucks per. Cheapskates can trade $85 for a narrow slot 'way up in the nosebleeds. Settling for a copy of the band's 1967 Atco debut is an even surer bet, however little the band has always thought of it.

Today's weed: A few dry springs of Purple Kush, the emperor of indicas.

Tear Gas & Other Delights: Though its durable status as a protest song is a little undeserved, "For What It's Worth" is certainly Springfield's best-known tune, with Stills' tense guitar licks and laconic vocals decorating many a 1960s-themed movie lensed in the decades since. Less leftist agitprop than simple advice to stay the fuck out of the middle of the road, this cowboy-up philosophy informs "Go and Say Goodbye," a honky-tonk lament about worthless love that singer Furay throws down like a lovelorn Nashville cat. The Mojo Men's 1965 version of Stills' "Sit Down I Think I Love You," made this catchy jingle as well known at the time of release as the opening tune would later become.

"Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" has all the bravura eloquence of Neil Young's '70s output, but Furay's smoothly impassioned delivery is preferable to Young's whimpering detachment. "Hot Dusty Roads" is Stills in his patented gonzo-philosopher mode: A man who can always tell us where, but never why. "Everybody's Wrong" is another pull off the same bogarted joint. Neil makes an angsty suite of the next three songs, with the title of "Flying on the Ground is Wrong" offering a fine slogan for anti-stoner moralists. Young's "Out of My Mind" contains a thin, spooky echo of Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders' "Groovy Kind of Love," which was itself heavily influenced by a sonatina by Muzio Clementi, a contemporary of Mozart whom old Wolfgang himself thought needlessly flashy. Steven and Richie close out proceedings with "Pay the Price", another invitation to man up, and with this Buffalo Springfield rides the album off into the sunset like a hippie Sons of the Pioneers.

Psychoactive verdict: After this, you'll be tempted to pony up for one of the shows at the Fox after all.

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