"Firstly I'd like to say that this is not a live album - as described here. Its a studio ablum from 1990. frankly, its quite bad. The production is very very cheesy - synths, wimpy drums etc. With a different production - perhaps simple acoustic guitars - this album could be rescued. There are 3 quite good songs on the album - Haven't We Lost Enough, Yours and Mine and After The Dolphin. These guys can sing almost as good today as they could in 1969 - a sparse backing track instead of the awful 80's synth/drum tripe would've been lovely. I would recommend this for anyone who doesn't want to buy the Box-Set (which contains the 3 aforementioned songs), or a fanatic who must own all their stuff - otherwise i wouldn't bother - Buy "Crosby, Stills Nash", "Deja Vu", "CSN", "Daylight Again", "American Dream", "After The Storm" or "Looking Forward" first - they're all better albums."
Their weakest album
A Fan | VA | 04/03/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is Crosby, Stills, & Nash's weakest album. They venture too far into pop and not enough rock on this one. The most interesting song on it is "After The Dolphin" where Nash seems to try to remake the C&N classic "Last Whale". All-in-all, this is a very forgettable album. Recommended for hardcore CSN fans only."
Dear reader, a little balance...
R. Altman | Oxford, England | 12/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are certain albums by CSN, individually or in different combinations of the letters, which are universally agreed to be 5 star material. These tend to be their earlier albums. Their still prodigious output since the mid 70's has not generally been of the same gold standard. (Although Stills's 2005 solo album, 'Man Alive', rates gold for me.) Cherry picking still yields an impressive playlist of top rate tracks though. Among the later albums there seems to be fairly equitably divided opinion either praising or criticizing. Browsing amazon there's a lot of opinion to be seen - 'Looking Forward' has 146 customer reviews! - but I'm dismayed to see that this album has attracted just 10 reviews, most of which are dismal. Hence the title of this review. Some have complained about the drums and synth use. OK, 5½ out of 10 tracks do have a great big thwacking drumbeat, but mostly they work - just one or two where I would love to have that taken out of the mix. Were they (ill) advised that a 90's audience with its attention deficit and addiction to volume and stadium extravaganzas needed to be hit on the head? CSN have never been about a single sound or approach though. On the contrary, the best of their albums have comprehensive concert quality, showcasing the variety of what they can do, and taking listeners through a session of musical theatre in their own listening rooms. This is not an album to showcase their song writing mind you, given that just 3 tracks are written exclusively by them. Three are by others, and four are co-written with others. (Co-writers influenced/inspired by their song writing though? Especially given the longstanding association with some of them.) Nevertheless, a good collection - you have 4 songs of life-positive philosophy, to get you through the vale of tears, 2 of social comment, and 3 lovesongs including a great breaking up song. ('House of broken dreams'.) None of the lyrics are either embarassingly pontificating/sermonising, or overly trite/banal, or unduly navel gazing.
'If anybody had a heart' is a pop like song but none the worse for that. An ode to CSN's turf - the territory of the emotions, the limbic system, the right brain. And the boys fill your head on the chorus. This could've been the title track. And the cover to accompany it should've been... well anything but the spiked sausages on the moon that for me bear no relation to the feel of this album. 'Open' is from the SS canon of big numbers, and could've been the opener - as many of his other such creations have been positioned. And another contender for the title track too - a great philosophical, personal and musical statement from - for me - the main man of the trio. SS fans should love this - with Stephen singing his heart out in the great choir and response crescendo to this piece. As too they should love his other contributions here - 'Haven't we lost enough' - just SS and his acoustic guitar, singing one of his most beautiful songs, and certainly the most plaintively touching. 'Tomboy' - another good contribution from SS, on an aspect of one of his favourite subjects - girls. 'After the dolphin' - no relation of 'To the last whale' - this is a song about aerial warfare. Social commentary songs have to be pretty special to work for me, and this qualifies. The blending of sound bites and sound effects with the dramatic nature of the integrated music and words is unequivocally gripping. CSN are great writers and musicians, but ultimately their most distinguishing mark is their famous harmonising - the blend of gritty, pure and femmish elements - and there's plenty of that here. Try the chorus on 'Yours and mine' - a song about relating to all children. In which, incidentally, acclaimed jazz saxman Brandon Marsalis is successfully incorporated, as he is on 'Arrows' - both co-written by Crosby. Not a reason in itself for listening, but while here, let's just acknowledge that this was recorded as they were pushing 50 - well done guys. This review appears on a shopping site - given the prices at which this album is being offered here (some under a dollar), give it a whirl."
Often lightweight, with very slick production, but mostly we
Dave | United States | 05/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Released in June of 1990, CSN's "Live It Up" album usually takes a beating from big fans of the group, and it's understandable in a sense, but the criticism also seems unfair and excessive.
Admittedly, based on this album, it seems CSN have almost completely forgotten how to rock out. Apart from the album-opening title track and "If Anybody Had A Heart"--the latter of which has a lame, overblown beamed-in bridge--not one track even remotely qualifies as a rocker. And even in regard to those two, the title track, written and largely played by Joe Vitale, is driven by a mid-'80s synth riff (the liner notes indicate it was actually recorded in February of 1986); and "If Anybody Had A Heart", written by J.D Souther and Danny Kortchmar, is a jarringly sugary pop-rock ballad (with wannabe-hard-rocker Kortchmar most likely responsible for the aforementioned bridge section).
There's also one more song that wasn't at all written by the group, the listenable-but-generic pop-rock tune "Straight Line", written by Tony Beard. There's also a co-write from, of all people, REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin on "Haven't We Lost Enough?".
"Yours and Mine" and "Arrows" would have sounded right at home on Sting's debut solo album, and it's no wonder, because both of them feature Branford Marsalis adding his instantly recognizable soprano sax ornamentation. "Arrows" has a strikingly similar feel as the Sting song "Children's Crusade".
All that said, most listeners seem to feel the group had lost their edge at this point.
When you get right down to it though, the album mostly works. The title track, even if it is a bit strained lyrically, is undeniably catchy and energetic (the chorus, with its echo-y effect, amusingly recalls "Walking On The Moon" by the Police). Stills' "Tomboy" is fun and amusingly lightweight, despite the lyrical twist at the end. "Haven't We Lost Enough?" is an excellent, edgy lost-love number with just Stills on acoustic guitar and vocals and the others joining in on harmonies. "Yours And Mine", despite some distractingly unimaginative sax work from Marsalis, has a surging chorus and is a powerful statement about teens/pre-teens with a predisposition toward violence. Co-written by Nash, "(Got To Keep) Open" is Stills' token Latin-pop number, and it's an irresistible, uplifting feel-good tune. The downbeat "House Of Broken Dreams", with its simple-but-engaging acoustic riff, is a no-nonsense Nash ballad, haunting and extremely moving. The pensive "Arrows", written Crosby and the late Michael Hedges, is a beautifully melodic, flowing, 3/4 time adult contemporary ballad.
Unfortunately, the album ends in fairly weak fashion with the overwrought 'epic' "After The Dolphin" which, with its added soundbytes from news clips, presages Neil Young's "Let's Impeach The President".
Still though, the positives definitely outweight the negatives of "Live It Up". This is a highly recommended album, and with so many dirt cheap copies floating around, this CD should be considered a steal for CSN fans who don't already have it.
(P.S. Granted, the album cover, along with the back cover of the insert, is appalling--who the heck's idea was it to have hot dogs all over the place?? Ick!)"
A lost album
therosen | New York, NY United States | 02/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not many folks give CSN much credit for this album. Lost hippie cred writing into the 90s? No mega-classics? Aging voices? Despite these issues, the album isn't really that bad. They carry their protest through the decade of greed, and the first two songs: Live it Up and If Anybody Had a Heart are both worthy of their prior panthenon of art."