4 Way Street is a very different album from Crosby, Stills & Nash and Deja Vu. Both featured perfect production and crystal clear harmonies. When Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young brought their music to a live setting it showed they were human as they strained on some of the vocals, took chances, engaged each other in some extended jamming, and created one of he better live albums of the era. It was a huge commercial success reaching number one on the American charts and selling four million copies.
This is not a complete concert performance but rather was recorded over a one month period from early June through early July of 1970. Still the individual tracks that are pieced together present an excellent look into the concert style of a legendary band at the height of their powers.
What surprised me at the time of its original release and continues to do so today is the beauty of David Crosby’s performances of “Triad” and “The Lee Shore.” He can be spotty at times, but here his vocals are right on and he has rarely been better.
I have always been attracted to the thirteen minute versions of “Southern Man” and “Carry On.” Neil Young and Stephen Stills have always had a moth to the flame mentality but when they are in the mood they challenge and compliment each other so well. Both songs allow them to stretch out and jam with each other and the results are stunning . Many times extended tracks of this nature get bogged down and repetitive but here the time flies by.
There are several other fine performances. “Ohio” may seem like it was taken from a history book today, but in 1971 it was a biting and incisive indictment of the student killings at Kent State and of The Vietnam War in general. “Right Between The Eyes” features a fine Crosby/Nash duet. Stephen Stills’ “Find The Cost Of Freedom” is short but powerful. Stills also rocks out on his “Love The One You’re With.”
There are some disappointments. Foremost is the 33 second “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” which makes me ask why bother. “49 Bye-Bye Blues/America’s Children” contains a less than stellar rendition of the classic “For What Its Worth.” It deserved better.
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had gone their separate ways by the time this album was released in April of 1971. All four members would release solo albums during the next few years. Crosby Stills and Nash would re-form in 1977 but Young would be a superstar by then and would continue on with his solo career.
In some ways the album is a little dated due to the nature of some of the material but overall remains a strong musical statement and well worth hearing today