Stephen Stills began his musical journey as a folkie in the early to mid sixties. His career took a dramatic turn when he and fellow musician Richie Furay met or to be more exact collided with Neil Young. His folk sensibilities would mesh with Young’s rock leanings to form the basis for one of the most creative bands in American music history.
The Buffalo Springfield, under the leadership of Stills, Young, and the underrated Furay, would fuse rock and country music and leave behind a legacy that reverberates to the present day. Bass player Bruce Palmer and drummer Dewey Martin would complete the original lineup.
They would remain a functioning unit for only a little more than two years, yet such was their talent level and respect, they would be elected to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1997. The group spawned the solo careers of Young and Stills, plus provided the foundation for Poco and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and sometimes Young.
Buffalo Springfield’s self-titled debut album was different than just about everything else being produced in 1966. Originally released in October to general disinterest by the American record buying public, it was re-released in March 1967. The re-release featured the group’s big hit “For What Its Worth,” enabling the album to become a moderate commercial success.
Stephen Stills’ “For What Its Worth” is two and a half minutes of musical bliss. Its introductory guitar notes are still recognizable over four decades after its initial release, and it remains the perfect and eternal song of protest. It is not only a relic of the sixties but is that rare song that has retained its relevancy over decades.
Neil Young wrote five of the album’s tracks but only sings lead on two as he lacked confidence in his vocal skills at that point in his career. Richie Furay fills in on the other three. Still his song writing ability is superb as “Flying On The Ground Is Wrong,” “Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It,” “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing,” and “Burned” which does feature his vocal, are universally excellent. Stills’ contributions are more hit or miss. “Hot Dusty Roads” is a nice country rock song, and “Sit Down I Love You” has remained a part of his live act for years.
The album features the interplay of three excellent guitarists and the clear harmonies of four wonderful voices that fit together well. Buffalo Spingfield remains a remarkable debut and an important one yet it was only the beginning as the best was yet to come.