Essential Listening: Direct Action (CD) by Crosby, Stills and Nash

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Direct Action (CD)

Political action had always been a defining aspect of the career of Crosby, Stills and Nash. From the iconic moment that David Crosby, then of The Byrds, took to the stage at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 to accuse the US government of a cover-up in the assassination of JFK, he became cast as one of the principal spokespersons for the anti-war and counter-cultural youth movements of the 60s. Both Stephen Stills and Crosby had been singular voices of activism within their respective bands and it should come as no surprise then that the volume of those voices intensified when the two came together to form CSN. With the addition of Neil young to their line-up in 1970, electric performances of outrage and rebellion, most notably Young’s ‘Southern Man’ and ‘Ohio’, their response to the Kent State massacre, confirmed the band’s status as ‘the four horsemen of the counter-culture’.

The band’s activism was not merely aesthetic, participation in direct action fundraisers, benefits and demos became an integral part of CSN and CSN&Y, and extended all the way to the ‘Freedom of Speech’ tour in 2006. [album name] presents two landmark performances from CSN’s political legacy. The first comes from the ‘No Nukes’ rally in 1979, the second from 1986, and the Crack-Down benefit at Madison Square Garden.

Both concerts showcase CSN at their impassioned best. These committed and rousing performances capture the essence of the band’s sense of purpose; the spirit of challenge, protest and ultimately hope that forever identified them with Laurel Canyon in 1968, and the flickering dream of the counter-culture.

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