I hope the new week finds you all well.
Back in the day, when I was first filling my ears with groovy music, between the ages of 12 and 16 (1974-78) I spent a lot of time at the local flea market, a dusty wasteland that smelled like hamburger grease, cigarettes and joss sticks.
It was also packed with records.
It was there that I picked up my first Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Who, and as you see above, Buffalo Springfield records.
Of all of these (and the hundreds of others) the Buffalo Springfield was the biggest revelation.
Thanks to the two-LP ‘Buffalo Springfield’ set, released by Atco in 1973, the group quickly became my favorite US 60s band,a place of honor they still hold to this day.
The set was a pretty comprehensive ‘best of’, no doubt released thanks to the then current popularity of Stephen Stills and Neil Young, and in addition to all of the familiar (as familiar as tracks by a band that had one minor hit can me) tunes, was a very cool, very long, alternate take on ‘Bluebird’.
Originally released in 1967 on ‘Buffalo Springfield Again’, at a length of 4:08, the version of the track issued in 1973 was more than twice as long.
In retrospective it’s easy to see why it wasn’t originally released in this form.
While the Springfield often took the opportunity to get far out and psychedelic, they always did it in small doses, sometimes only a tiny section in one song. The longest track on any of their three original albums is he 6:13 soundscape ‘Broken Arrow’ (also on ‘Buffalo Springfield Again’).
Word is that neither Stills nor Young were fond of this extended mix, but I dig it a lot. Things stay true to form up until about 3:15, and then branch off into heavier guitar and screaming (Stills) where the original version segues into a gentle banjo interlude. You get lots of Stills/Young guitar dueling, and oddly enough the long, jammy segment feels more ‘organic’ to me than the obvious (yet still cool) cut and paste of the original, but it really does make it a different song/record.
The original mix fits more closely to the group’s overall style, with the alternate take sounding like it belongs on a CSNY album.
Either way, it’s fascinating to look in on the group’s ‘process’, especially considering how often their 45 and LP takes differ, and the fact that ‘Bluebird’ was covered a few times, by the James Gang and later by Kin Vassy.
I hope you dig the track, and I’ll see you next week.