October 4, 2014 – 2:23 pm

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Denver 1970 [JEMS Archive, 2CD]

Live at the Denver Coliseum, Denver, Colorado; May 12, 1970. Good to fairly/very good audience recording.

Here’s one for Job Hunter.

For some, the missing link between the CSNY 1969 tour and the 4 Way Street live album.

Thanks to JEMS, BK; and to mjk5510 for sharing the show at Dime.

Uploader’s notes:

The year 1970 was a turbulent time for both America and CSNY. Problems for the latter began on April 14 when Stephen Stills crashed his car and fractured his wrist, thereby delaying the upcoming CSNY tour, set to open in San Francisco with a show at Winterland on April 30 (supported, incidentally, by Fairport Convention). Instead, Stills flew to Hawaii to recover.

The tour postponement came on the heels of grumbling in the press over “outrageous” ticket prices, topping out at $10. The national mood was no better and turned even darker on May 4 when the country witnessed the killing of four students by members of the National Guard at Kent State University, an event that set the stage for one of Neil Young’s greatest songs, “Ohio.” And that wasn’t all.

Shortly after rehearsals began, Greg Reeves was fired for wanting to perform his own songs during the shows. He was hastily replaced by Calvin (Fuzzy) Samuels, the bassist on Stills’ recently completed, self-titled solo album. Then, on May 10, Stills was thrown from a horse, tearing a knee ligament only two days before the re-scheduled opening date. After conferring with doctors, it was decided Stills would carry on, albeit wearing a cast, and with that looming backdrop, CSNY took the stage in Denver to finally start the tour.

Though praised in the press immediately after, through the passage of time, conventional wisdom around the Denver ‘70 show shifted dramatically - it has been described as everything from unsteady to disastrous. We’ll let you be the judge of that, but the fact remains that the Denver set contains a number of moments that make it highly entertaining. It is, without a doubt, an important part of CSNY history.

The first surprise comes with Crosby pulling out the rarely played “Everybody’s Been Burned” for its only appearance during a CSNY show. Eight songs in we are treated to the debut performance of Neil’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” and the 12-song acoustic set ends with a rousing “Love The One You’re With.”

Due to Calvin Samuels unfamiliarity with the others’ work, we get a Stills-centric electric set with four of the nine tracks being Stills compositions. A highlight is the full-band version of Graham Nash’s beautiful “Chicago,” not played again until the July 5 Chicago show in its more familiar solo version. The surprise in the electric set is the one and only performance to date of Neil’s “Everybody I Love You.”

After Denver, things around CSNY deteriorated quickly, with Neil demanding Dallas Taylor be replaced. The band quickly elected to cancel the next eight dates and resume the tour later in the month. At the time, Nash stated, “The music was rubbish and we knew it. We had to cool ourselves out before we could get back again.” Stills, to his credit, admitted being caught up in the fame and limelight, telling biographer David Zimmer, “If a voice of reason could have cleared that fog, we would have realized our full potential and CSN&Y would be mentioned in the same breath as The Beatles and the Stones. We all lost right there, that day, to indulgence. We lost it all.” The tour resumed on May 29 at the Boston Garden with a new drummer.

The extant recording of this night is typical quality for an early 1970’s audie, ranging from a bit rough to pretty decent. There is a marked quality improvement in the acoustic set beginning with Crosby’s “Everybody’s Been Burned,” as if the taper raised the deck or mic creating a somewhat richer sound. That or Crosby was mic’d much better than Stills and Young.

These tapes of that same recording came to JEMS from an unlikely source, my neighbor. Somewhere along the way I got into a conversation with him about my hobby and he mentioned how some friends of his had recorded CSNY way back in the day. After probing with a few questions, it seemed likely to be 1969 or 1970. It took a few months, but he eventually handed me a bag of tapes. Inside were cassettes marked Denver ‘69, Denver ‘70 and Greek ‘69. Two of them were on the old green Sony C-90s, which is the right tape for the era. Another was re-shelled. Could they be master tapes? Maybe, but just as easily first or second gen.

That being said, it does seem like this is the closest to a verified source/lineage as we’re going to have for the show. Also lending credence to the provenance of these cassettes is the fact that the Denver ‘69 tape is an upgrade to what’s in circulation and the Greek Theater ‘69 recording, while not complete, does not have the cuts between songs found on the circulating copy, so all three of these appear to be upstream compared to what’s around.

Case in point, on this new transfer of May 12, 1970, “Wooden Ships” follows “Chicago,” but on the circulating version it appears prior to “Chicago.” There is no break on this source between the two songs so we believe it reflects the accurate set list for the show.

As is often the case with tapes this old, playback wasn’t easy. The tapes required re-shelling and multiple playback passes to get the full recording transferred without squeaks and distortion. The result is quite listenable and hopefully offers a modest upgrade to the best circulating version, yielding more of the original recording and less mastering artifacts.

Fearlessly treading in to put all the pieces together was Comrade mjk5510, who spent a lot of time on both the audio and the notes you see above. Thanks as always and welcome back to the tax rolls.

BK for JEMS and mjk5510

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Thanks also to ethiessen1 for the artwork.

Click here for the lossless flacs.

JEMS 2014 Transfer: low generation cassettes > Nakamichi CR-7A Azimuth-adjusted transfer > Sound Devices USBPre 2 > Audacity 2.0 (24/96) capture > iZotope RX3 clean up > iZotope RX MBIT+ resample 16/44.1 > Peak Pro XT (speed correction / subtle tweak / edit / index) > xACT 2.21 > FLAC

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Please Do Not Hammer The Links. Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. The tracks should still be around. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Disc 1
Track 101. Suite Judy Blue Eyes 9:51 (16.5MB)
Track 102. Teach Your Children 5:27 (9.2MB)
Track 103. On The Way Home 3:57 (6.6MB)
Track 104. Helpless 3:55 (6.6MB)
Track 105. Everybody’s Been Burned 6:19 (10.6MB)
Track 106. Tell Me Why 3:58 (6.7MB)
Track 107. Man In The Mirror 3:36 (6.0MB)
Track 108. Only Love Can Break Your Heart 4:52 (8.2MB)
Track 109. Black Queen 6:53 (11.6MB)
Track 110. Bluebird 3:05 (5.2MB)
Track 111. America’s Children 6:13 (10.4MB)
Track 112. Love The One You’re With 4:27 (7.5MB)
63 mins

Disc 2
Track 201. Pre-Road Downs 3:45 (6.3MB)
Track 202. Carry On 6:07 (10.3MB)
Track 203. So Begins The Task 4:53 (8.2MB)
Track 204. Chicago 4:17 (7.2MB)
Track 205. Wooden Ships 8:04 (13.6MB)
Track 206. As I Come Of Age 3:48 (6.4MB)
Track 207. Southern Man 9:05 (15.3MB)
Track 208. Everybody I Love You 5:07 (8.6MB)
Track 209. Long Time Gone 7:25 (12.5MB)
53 mins

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  1. 6 Responses to “CSNY - DENVER 1970”

  2. Who told you my birthday was days away? What a nice gift. Really appreciate it. Someone could’ve used some Smith Brothers halfway through Suite Judy Blue Eyes. Mike the Mic would’ve run out of pennies on this one. Thanks for the background. Ken Burns ought to do a PBS four night special.

    By Job Hunter on Oct 4, 2014

  3. thanks for this , wish they would have done
    Sea Of Madness,you hardly ever hear it and I think its great!

    By sluggo on Oct 4, 2014

  4. Great stuff.
    Thanks, BIGO!

    By YogaforCynics on Oct 5, 2014

  5. Terrific! Great show. Sound isn’t bad at all, really listenable for it’s time. Thank you!

    By chocolate bunny farm on Oct 5, 2014

  6. Thanks for posting this show Big O!

    By Tom on Oct 5, 2014

  7. Everybodiy’s Been Burned???!!! REALLY?!?!?! That will wake you right up. Was that song ever played live before/since?

    By Tapedog on Oct 9, 2014

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