Before they carried on at Woodstock and even before Judy Blue Eyes materialized in suite form, Stephen Stills and Neil Young had to first let their folk harmony roots take hold in a band that some Philistines may label a "one-hit wonder." Listening to their first self-titled album, it's easy to tell that the band was definitely more than a simple one-trick pony, capable of producing much more than the classic rock radio staple, "For What It's Worth." Stills' call for political consciousness may be what Buffalo Springfield is best known for, but their second album, Again (1967), is much too well-written and harmonious to be dismissed.
The album starts out with the bass-thumping Young rocker, "Mr. Soul." What seems to be setting up a rocker of an album similar to that of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Green River or The Grateful Dead's self-titled debut quickly and beautifully dissolves into the laid-back country and folk that would later become synonymous with Stills and Young. Songs like "A Child's Claim to Fame" and "Expecting to Fly" are definitely preludes to the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young years, but it is not just these two folk powerhouses that complete this album. Third guitarist Richie Furay contributes three songs to the album, including the aforementioned "A Child's Claim to Fame." Furay's wholesome country voice adds just the right amount of volume to blend the harmonies. Without him, the album would simply be Stills and Young, and as we know from later years, a third harmony never hurts.
With all of this high-class musicianship, it may seem hard to pick out the highlights on the album. After a few listens, the tracks that continuously get played again and again are the Stephen Stills tracks. Stills' song "Rock & Roll Woman" is a beautiful tribute to either Janis Joplin or Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane fame. The lyrics, "And she's coming, singing soft and low/Singing rock and roll, she's a joy to know," could easily be used to describe either of the psychedelic female voices.
Stills' masterwork shines on with the mystical and poetic "Bluebird." A simple description of a bluebird perched and then flying away wouldn't seem like an ideal love song, but that's why Stills is a classic rock icon - his artistic vision can turn nature's simplicities into a tale of hidden love.
While Young may be the more notable member of Buffalo Springfield, it wasn't until Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and his solo years when he really made his masterpieces. Buffalo Springfield was Stephen Stills' time to shine, and Again is proof of that. At only 35 minutes, Again may seem like a quick listen, but it's an album that commands attention, making future spins unavoidable.