Talk about complete.
If the idea of a three-disc anthology compiling all of Graham Nash's music over the years might have seemed an overly ambitious one, the release of Reflections effectively shoots down any such notion.
It's always been sort of easy to overlook Nash though. Despite the fact that his is that high voice you hear most prominently on all of those CSN and CSNY harmonies — and that he wrote or co-wrote many of their best-known hits — just look who he's surrounded by. When you hitch your career wagon to guys like David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young it can be very easy to be overlooked. That's why this 64-song, three-disc set is such a surprise on an initial listen. You always knew Nash wrote a fair amount of all those great songs — but who knew there were this many of them?
Reflections chronicles Nash's career from the early sixties to the present in chronological order, beginning with the Hollies, and ending with "In Your Name," a previously unreleased song recorded last fall. Those are the bookends of this set. But most of what you'll find here represents the work Nash has done with his best known and most important band, as in the various incarnations of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
For those who haven't followed Nash's career, it can all be a little confusing since this means you get tracks from CSN, CSNY, and the numerous duo recordings he did with David Crosby as Crosby/Nash. But for those who own any of the recordings by Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young and whoever, or even the CSN box set, the idea of another retrospective box might also seem to be a bit redundant. Reflections likewise avoids this trap by including no less than 32 alternate mixes or otherwise previously unreleased tracks. That's roughly half of what's here, making this an essential release for all of you completists out there.
As interesting as some of the previously unreleased material here is — songs like "Behind The Shades" (written for Roy Orbison) as well as previously unheard CSN tracks like "Lonely Man' — the real joy of listening to Reflections lies in the rediscovery of all of the great Nash songs you already know. Not to mention the realization that there are so many of them.
From the Hollies you've got "Carrie Anne," "King Midas in Reverse," and "On A Carousel," all appearing here in their original mono mixes for the singles. From CSN there's alternate mixes of "Teach Your Children" and "Cathedral,” as well as the more familiar "Marrakesh Express," "Our House," and "Just A Song Before I Go." The Crosby/Nash collaboration is represented by songs like "Immigration Man," "Wind On The Water," and "To The Last Whale." Nash's solo work is also given ample space including both lesser known songs, as well as the hits like "Chicago (We Can Change The World)."
Rhino also gets kudos for the packaging here. Reflections comes in a box made to look like one of those dusty old hardbound books you might find gathering dust on a library shelf, which gives the package a very classy look. Inside there is a book full of great pictures, and personal annotations from Nash on each and every song here. Did you know for example that the Crosby/Nash song "Mutiny" was written after Neil Young walked out (or rather flew off) on a session for one of the many scuttled CSNY reunions over the years? Neither did I.
For all of the great stuff that is here however, an anthology this complete is not going to come without some filler. To that effect, latter-day CSNY albums like the forgettable American Dream probably occupy more space than they should.
Overall however, Reflections is both satisfying and surprising for much the same reason. There's just way more great music here than you would have ever thought possible from that guy with the highest voice on all those records by Crosby, Stills, Nash and occasionally Young. Reflections is a welcome reminder of that, and a fitting career retrospective.