Side One: Mint Minus Minus (with a noisy edge)
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
Side Three: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Four: Mint Minus Minus
- This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all FOUR sides
- The "naked" sound of the real thing - the real voices and the real guitars and the real everything else, in a way that would never happen again
- Bill Halverson worked his magic, but only the best pressings let his genius shine the way it does here
- 4 1/2 stars: "4 Way Street, released in April of 1971: a live double-LP set, chock-full of superb music distilled down from a bunch of nights on that tour that more than fulfilled the promise of the group."
- Rolling Stone raves that "Crosby, Stills. Nash, and Young are all performers of unquestionable talent, and mostly because they stay out of each others' way, 4 Way Street must surely be their best album to date."
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Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.
*NOTE: On side three, a mark makes 12 soft to loud ticks/pops at the end of Track 1, Pre-Road Downs, into the beginning of Track 2, Long Time Gone.
If you want to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock out live in your listening room, this copy will let you do it. It's not easy to find good sound on even one side of this album, let alone all four!
This vintage Atlantic Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
The Naked Sound of Live Music
The song "Triad", just to cite one example, presents us with a lone David Crosby and his acoustic guitar. It's as real sounding as anything I've ever heard from the band. Listening to that natural guitar tone brings home the fact that their studio recordings (and studio recordings in general) are processed and degraded compared to what the microphones must have picked up.
This live album gives you the "naked" sound of the real thing -- the real voices and the real guitars and the real everything else, in a way that would never happen again. (Later CSN albums are mostly dreadful. Fortunately, later Neil Young albums, e.g., Zuma, are often Demo Discs of the highest quality.)
Side two, our favorite of the four, gives you authentically Live Neil Young from 1970; no other live Neil Young record contained material from this era until the recently released Live at Massey Hall album (1971), which is superb and belongs in your collection on CD. (I admit to not having heard the vinyl.)
What the best Sides of 4 Way Street Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1971
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
The Best Sound
Our best copies are big, clear, present, and dynamic. They show you what few copies can: how well-recorded the album is. Bill Halverson did a great job but you have to work your tail off to find a copy that does his brilliant engineering justice. Sad, isn't it?
Super High Rez too -- listen to how clear the crowd noises are. Yet on the better copies, the sound is immediate, with layers of depth and space around all the instruments and voices (and crowd members even!).
And last but not least, you want a copy with ENERGY. It's a big deal here at Better Records. We want to feel something when we play these records. You will feel it when you play this copy, that we can guarantee.
What We're Listening For on 4 Way Street
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
What to Watch Out for
If the singers get hard and shrill in the louder passages, then what you have is a pretty typical pressing. Add grit and grain, smeared transients, opacity, surface noise and a lack of weight down low and you'll know why it takes us years to find enough copies to shoot out -- because this is what most pressings sound like.
As you have surely read on the site by now, this band has put out more bad pressings of good recordings than practically any I can think of. Here is an excerpt from our review of their first album that discusses the issue in more depth.
95% of all the pressings of this album I've ever played have been disappointing. They're almost always wrong, each in their own way of course. Some are dull, some are shrill, some are aggressive, some have no bass -- every mastering fault you can imagine can be heard on one copy or another of this record. The bottom line? If you want to buy them and try them from your local record store, plan on spending hundreds of dollars and putting in years of frustrating effort, perhaps with little to show for it in the end. This is one tough nut to crack; it's best to know that going in.
When you get a good copy of this album you're sure to hear what we heard -- that this is truly one of the great live rock albums. It has the Big Rock Sound that we go crazy for at Better Records. The best pressings, the ones that are full-bodied and smooth, let you crank the levels and reproduce the album good and loud the way it was meant to be heard.
It's clearly one of Bill Halverson's Engineering Triumphs, along with Cream's Goodbye album, Deja Vu and Steve Stills' debut.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
- Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
- On the Way Home
- Teach Your Children
- The Lee Shore
This is one of the best sounding songs on the album. It has that "Traction In The Rain" quality: amazingly transparent and intimate. The guitars and the voice should sound DEAD ON when you get a good copy of this album, or at least if you get a good side one of this album.
- Right Between the Eyes
- Cowgirl in the Sand
- Don't Let It Bring You Down
- 49 Bye-Byes/America's Children
- Love the One You're With
Like Triad, this song should be amazingly transparent and intimate. A top performance by Neil Young and the best music on side two.
- Pre-Road Downs
- Long Time Gone
- Southern Man
- Carry On
- Find the Cost of Freedom
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had come out of Woodstock as the hottest new music act on the planet, and followed it up with Deja Vu, recorded across almost six months in the second half of 1969 and released in March of 1970, supported by a tour in the summer of that year.
... But then came 4 Way Street, released in April of 1971: a live double-LP set, chock-full of superb music distilled down from a bunch of nights on that tour that more than fulfilled the promise of the group. Indeed, contained on those original four LP sides was the embodiment of everything great that the unique ethos behind this group -- which was not a "group" but four individuals working together -- might have yielded.
Each of the participants got to show off a significant chunk of his best work, whether presented alone or in tandem with the others, and the shared repertory -- "Long Time Gone," "Ohio" etc. -- binding it all together as more than a documentary of some joint appearances.
Conceptually, it was all as diffuse as the concept behind the group, but musically, 4 Way Street was one of the great live rock documents of its time, a status that the original vinyl retains along with such touchstones as the Allman Brothers' At Fillmore East, the live half of the Cream's Wheels of Fire, and the Grateful Dead's Live/Dead; some of the extended guitar jams between Stills and Young ("Southern Man") go on longer than strict musical sense would dictate, but it seemed right at the time, and they capture a form that was far more abused in other hands after this group broke up.
Although Neil Young and Stephen Stills had the advantage of the highest wattage on their songs and their jams together, David Crosby and Graham Nash more than manage to hold their own, not only with some strong and distinctive songs, but also with a strong case that less could be more: they reached the more introspective members of their audience, mostly individually, while Stills and Young wowed the crowds collectively.
In many respects, this was the greatest part of the legacy that the foursome left behind, though it is also a bit unfair to stack it up next to, say, Deja Vu, as 4 Way Street had the advantage of all four participants ranging freely across a combined 20 years of repertory.
Rolling Stone 1975
Between two miserable bootleg albums Wooden Nickel and Live at the Forum, atrocious not so much due to the production imperfections common to bootleg recording but largely because of the wretched workmanship of the group themselves and six cuts on the two Woodstock albums which collectively constituted a monumental disaster in the history of live recording, it seemed to me that, however one might view their two studio albums. Crosby, Stills. Nash and Young had about as much business recording live concerts as did the Monkees.
But 4 Way Street is a surprisingly good album. To begin with, CSN&Y all sing and play in the same key on almost every single cut. One of the principal failures of their previous live work was that they attempted to duplicate those tight, three-part harmonies which required numerous takes and overdubs in the studio, but this double album is for the most part a showcase of solo material by each of the four.
"Long Time Gone." "Pre-Road Downs," and "Carry On" are still pretty ragged live, but in the latter case this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that "Carry On" serves as the vehicle for some long, exciting Stills-Young electric exchanges.
Young and Stills also really get it on together on the other extended number (13-plus minutes), Neil's "Southern Man," trading off some steaming riffs which compare favorably with the Danny Whitten-Young guitar work on the original (After The Gold Rush) version. Neil Young's "Cowgirl In The Sand" (done by himself with acoustic guitar) is a strangely different song than the recording with Crazy Horse, but it is utterly exquisite all the same. Young also does lovely acoustic solos of "Don't Let It Bring You Down" (from Gold Rush) and an old Buffalo Springfield tune, "On The Way Home." Even "Ohio" is no worse (though no better) than the single – but then the message is the medium anyway, I guess.
About a year ago (in a review of Deja Vu) someone remarked that CSN&Y's principal weaknesses were Crosby's singing and Nash's songwriting. I tend to disagree, and I think this album goes a long way in refuting both points. As for the first argument, well, his solo album aside, Crosby does two excellent songs here. (One of them, "Triad," is particularly notable, for the song was one of the major bones of contention leading to Crosby's departure from the Byrds. The haunting "The Lee Shore" is a treasure, and while "Long Time Gone" is pretty well botched here, it is not so much the fault of Crosby's vocal inadequacy as the fact that the song – like, among others, "Suite – Judy Blue Eyes" – is one of those in CSN&Y's repertoire which is difficult enough to be beyond the group's ability to competently perform it live.
And while Nash's songs are, to be sure, pretty lightweight, they rarely pretend to be anything else. The worst thing you can say about them is that they're harmless, and most of them are actually damned nice. They have suffered from some incredibly saccharine, overly-slick renditions on the first two albums – sometimes so disgustingly sweet they make you want, as Dorothy Parker once put it, "to fwow up." Nash's "Right Between The Eyes," though, is one of the high spots of 4 Way Street, and "Teach Your Children" is one of the few cuts on the record where the whole group sings together without blowing it. (While there's no Jerry Garcia steel guitar on this version of "Children," somebody picks a fine mandolin.)
In point of fact, if criticism of somebody's writing is to be levied in connection with CSN&Y, one might well point to a couple of the Stills numbers. Stephen jumps from "49 Bye-Byes" into a latter-day version of his Springfield-era "For What It's Worth" called "America's Children." It is a patronizing, gratuitous piece of drivel (the liner notes describe it as a "poem") which is presumably supposed to heighten the political consciousness of all us "children." Stills' "Love the One You're With" has been roundly criticized as being offensive to women. It is not merely offensive to women; it is insulting to human beings. About the only good thing that can be said about the song is that, in the absence of that background chorus and hokey arrangement, it sounds better here than on his solo album.
CSN&Y's latest backup duo, Johnny Barbara on drums and Calvin Samuels on bass, perform creditably if unspectacularly. The album does clearly point up their limitations as a group, but Crosby, Stills. Nash, and Young are all performers of unquestionable talent, and mostly because they stay out of each others' way 4 Way Street must surely be their best album to date.