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Rare Grooves

If you're of a certain age bracket, Crosby Stills & Nash songs trigger sense memories. The tingle you get as those impossibly perfect high harmonies of "Helplessly Hoping" unfurl. That ominous, Nixon-era dread telegraphed by the organ/guitar intro of "Long Time Gone." The patchouli-scented whiffs of utopianism conjured by "Wooden Ships." And, above all, the pulse-quickening exhilaration triggered by the "doo-doo-doo-doo-doo"s of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," as the tune hurtles towards its joyful conclusion.

Fun fact: in my laundry room was an old radio with a busted dial. So, as a result, it was permanently tuned to a classic rock station. When my son was an infant, he'd sit in his bouncy-chair and observe me while I folded clothes and the radio played. To this day, he still makes me sing the "doo-doo-doo-doo-doo" part with him whenever we hear that song.

But do we need our sense memories freshly remastered in HDCD digital, and with four bonus cuts tacked on? Certainly Atlantic/Rhino thinks so, as they've just reissued the onetime supergroup's 1969 debut, Crosby, Stills & Nash, in that format. To the first part of the question: well, duh; gotta have something to play on that high-priced boomer stereo gear. And the extra material, which is separated from the final track by a respectful eight seconds of silence, is in no way bargain-basement CSN. Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'" earns subtle new shadings -- compared to the classic Harry Nilsson version -- thanks to a contemplative lead vocal from Stephen Stills and the C&N backing harmonies. Equally enticing is a demo of "Song With No Words" (later redone for David Crosby's '71 solo debut), scatty and jazzy yet as elegant and mesmerizing as watching a ballerina swirl in slow motion.

All that aside, the bottom line here is, to quote Cros from the liner notes, "That first album comes on, and you don't want to take it off or skip a tune. That's the ultimate test." No shit.

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