Buffalo Springfield
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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I Buffalo Springfield furono una delle formazioni piu` talentuose e originali della scena folk-rock di Los Angeles. Emersi quando i Byrds si erano gia` spinti nel campo della psichedelia, i Buffalo Springfield continuarono quella esplorazione con ballate sempre piu` complesse.

I Buffalo Springfield nacquero dall'incontro fra i cantanti-chitarristi Steve Stills (proveniente dal Texas, esperto di blues e cultura latina) e Ritchie Furay (proveniente dall'Ohio), conosciutisi a New York, con i canadesi Neil Young (chitarra) e Bruce Palmer (basso), avvenuta a Los Angeles nel 1966.

Il complesso prendeva soltanto la superficie dallo stile corale ed elettrico dei Byrds, ma le loro canzoni soppiantavano i sorrisi dei primi anni '60 con un'atmosfera malinconica, che era quasi uno spleen esistenziale, e le partiture strumentali, fratturate da tempi sincopati e fiondate elettriche, vivevano di una nevrosi senza precedenti.

La loro storia duro` tre anni scarsi, nei quali presero corpo composizioni estremamente calibrate, energiche e intense, spartite per lo piu` fra Stills e Young. Il primo album, Buffalo Springfield (Atco, 1966), e` in gran parte appannaggio di Stills, delle sue ballate soffici e orecchiabili, fatte di piccoli tocchi chitarristici, di sonni vocali lenti e profondi: il country-pop di Go And Say Goodbye, la canzone di protesta For What It's Worth, il ritornello naive di Sit Down I Think I Love You. Furay contribuisce soprattutto Flying On The Ground Is Wrong e il giovane Neil Young comincia a combattere i propri fantasmi interiori con Out Of My Mind. La novita`, comunque, sta nel modo di suonare, che era uno dei piu` creativi del 1966. Le chitarre imbastivano armonie surreali. Bruce Palmer e il batterista Dewey Martin costituivano una delle sezioni ritmiche piu` duttili di sempre.

Palmer (deportato per problemi di droga) venne sostituito da Jim Fielder per Stampede, che non e` mai stato pubblicato.

Buffalo Springfield Again (Atco, 1967), il loro capolavoro, si avvale di una produzione avveniristica e di una maggiore compattezza in fase di jamming. Blue Bird e` l'insuperato capolavoro di Stills, un alto canto visionario con un lungo e contorto intermezzo strumentale. Stills scrive anche le piu` facili Rock And Roll Woman e Hung Upside Down. Furay scodella un altro gioiello country-pop, A Child's Claim To Fame, ma il gruppo flirta anche con il jazz e l'avanguardia in Everydays.
Neil Young comincia a reinventare lo stile della ballata per loner adattandolo alle cupe nevrosi della societa` moderna. La sua voce malata e sconsolata intona la cupa e minacciosa melodia di Mr Soul. Broken Arrow, sei minuti di misticismo e contorto autobiografismo, e` il suo primo capolavoro, una ballata pianistica sull'"american dream" le cui strofe marziali sono separate da arrangiamenti eccentrici (vociare del pubblico, un organetto di strada, effetti elettronici, una sezione d'archi, rullo di tamburi, cocktail-jazz), un'epica galoppata nei reami sterminati della memoria, dove l'uomo si perdera` piu` di una volta. Expecting To Fly e` di intensita` quasi pari, aperta da effetti cosmici e sospinta da un canto in tenero delirio, una melodia impalpabile librata sui violini in un volo lisergico (l'arrangiamento orchestrale e` di Jack Nitzsche).

Il postumo Last Time Around (Atco, 1969) venne rabberciato dai discografici. Annovera Kind Woman di Furay (che continua gli sviluppi country-rock del folk-rock) e On The Way Home di Young.

Retrospective (Atco, 1969) e` un'ottima antologia.

Quando si sciolgono, nel 1968, con Jim Messina (reduce da un complessino surf) subentrato al basso, i Buffalo Springfield sono diventati, come i Byrds, una grande famiglia patriarcale, e le loro ultime prove fanno presagire la svolta verso il country-rock dei singoli membri. Ritchie Furay e Jim Messina formeranno i Poco. Stills formera` i Manassas e i Crosby Stills Nash & Young (la naturale prosecuzione dei Buffalo Springfield). Neil Young diventera` uno dei massimi cantautori di tutti i tempi. Bruce Palmer registrera` un solo album, ma un album che rimane un capolavoro della musica psichedelica di tutti i tempi.

The Buffalo Springfield heralded a new era for folk-rock with their angular and almost neurotic guitar-based instrumental parts.
While their career lasted only two years, their influence was significant, particularly because they spawned a family tree of country-rock bands.
(Translated by Ornella C. Grannis)

Los Angeles' Buffalo Springfield was one of the most talented and original formations on the folk-rock scene. Having emerged after the Byrds had ventured into psychedelia, they continued their explorations with ever more complex ballads.

The Buffalo Springfield were born out of a meeting in Los Angeles, 1966, between singer-guitarists Steven Stills (from Texas, an expert of blues and Latin culture), Ritchie Furay (from Ohio, though Stills and Furay had previously met in New York) and the Canadians Neil Young (guitar) and Bruce Palmer (bass).

On the surface, the band took their cues from the choral and electric style of the Byrds, but their songs supplanted the smiles of the early 60s with a melancholic atmosphere that was nearly an existential cry, while their instrumental arrangements, fractured by syncopated rhythms and swooping electric sounds, expressed a neurosis without precedent.

During their three years of existence Buffalo Springfield gave form to extremely calibrated, energetic and intense compositions, shared for the most part between Stills and Young. The first album, Buffalo Springfield (Atco, 1966), owes much of its character to Stills, to his soft and catchy ballads made of small guitar licks and deep and slow vocal phrases: the country-pop Go And Say Goodbye, the protest song For What It' s Worth, the simple yet charming refrain in Sit Down the Think the Love You. Furay contributes Flying On The Ground Is Wrong while a young Neil Young begins to fight his own inner ghosts with Out Of My Mind. The novelty however, was in their playing style, one of the most creative of 1966. The three guitars crafted surrealistic harmonies, while Bruce Palmer and the drummer Dewey Martin remain to date one of most supple rhythm sections of all time.

Palmer (deported back to Canada on drugs-related offences) was replaced by Jim Fielder on Stampede, that has never been released.

Their masterpiece Buffalo Springfield Again (Atco, 1967), avails itself of a futuristic production and great, compact jamming. Blue Bird is Stills' unsurpassed masterpiece, a high visionary canto with a long, twisting instrumental break. Stills is also author of the easier Rock And Roll Woman and Hung Upside Down. Furay contributes another country-pop jewel, A Child's Claim To Fame.

Meanwhile, Neil Young begins to reinvent the ballad for the loner, adapting it to the dark neurosis of modern society. His sick and disconsolate voice intones the dark, threatening melody of Mr. Soul. Then there is Broken Arrow, six minutes of mysticism and twisted autobiography, his first masterpiece, a ballad for piano on the "American dream" whose martial stanzas are separated by eccentric sound clips (crowd noise, hurdy-gurdy, electronic effects, a string section, a drum roll, lounge-jazz), an epic gallop along the exhausted realms of memory, where man loses more than once. Expecting To Fly is almost as intense, opening with cosmic effects, suspended by a vocal of tender delirium, an impalpable melody lifted by violins through psychedelic flight (orchestral arrangement provided by Jack Nitzsche).

Last Time Around (Atco, 1969) released after the band's breakup, was patched together by the record label. It includes Furay's Kind Woman, which continues the country-rock development of folk-rock, and Young's On The Way Home.

Retrospective (Atco, 1969) is a great anthology.

By the time of the breakup, in 1968 (with Jim Messina, a veteran of a surf band at the bass), Buffalo Springfield had become like the Byrds, a great patriarchal family, and their last studio sessions gave the sense of the turn toward country-rock that each member would take. Ritchie Furay and Jim Messina went on to form Poco. Stills formed Crosby Stills Nash & Young, the natural extension of Buffalo Springfield, and later Manassas. Neil Young went on to became one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Bruce Palmer recorded only one album, but one that ranks as a masterpiece of psychedelic music.

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