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a few facts on the first buffalo springfield album

BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD is the name of Buf­falo Spring­field’s first album from 1966. This ar­ticle ad­dresses cer­tain mis­con­cep­tions on the first Buf­falo Spring­field album. And one of the prob­lems has been Wikipedia: this site has grown im­mea­sur­ably since its launching in 2001. And its growth is way be­yond the ex­pec­ta­tions of its ini­tial detractors—of which I was one.

Ten years ago, quoting from Wikipedia in an ar­ticle in­tended for in­tel­li­gent readers often brought de­ri­sive com­ments or out­right guf­faws. Such is not the case today—most of the time. Still, there are still a whole hel­luva lot of en­tries that have been ap­par­ently written by self-diagnosed ex­perts who don’t know they are, in fact, quite ig­no­rant of their chosen topic, or at least of spe­cific de­tails of those topics. (Or al­most as bad, styl­ists who don’t know they can’t write very well.)

Note that this ar­ticle, “on the first buf­falo spring­field album,” is an edited ver­sion of an ar­ticle ti­tled “for what it’s worth, Buf­falo Spring­field is a better album than you think.” The biggest dif­fer­ence is the in­clu­sion of the im­ages and cap­tions and ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion in the price guide sec­tion (below).


BuffaloSpringfleid_Atco33-200

You can’t tell by the front cover of the album whether the record within is a first pressing with Baby Don’t Scold Me or a second with For What It’s Worth. The back cover lists which track is on the record, but a few later records have been found in orig­inal jackets.

Wikipedia on “Buffalo Springfield”

Buf­falo Spring­field is one of my fav­erave groups of all time, and, whereas the ma­jority of fans and critics would choose their second album, BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD AGAIN, as their best album—and that’s be­cause it is their best—nonetheless, the one that reaches me the deepest is their epony­mous first album.

And, alas, the entry in Wikipedia for this album is a glaring ex­ample of old-style Wikig­no­rance. Who­ever made the entry—and it’s far too brief for an album by such an im­por­tant, in­flu­en­tial group—is rather clue­less about the record’s his­tory. Here is the com­plete re­view as it ap­pears in Wikipedia on this date (July 26, 2013) with a few type-setting changes to keep it in tune with the rest of my blog:

BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD is the self-titled debut album by folk-rock band Buf­falo Spring­field, re­leased in late 1966. It was orig­i­nally re­leased in both mono and stereo ver­sions as Atco (SD) 33-200, but when the single For What It’s Worth be­came a hit, the album was re-released as Atco (SD) 33-200A adding it but drop­ping Baby Don’t Scold Me.

Baby Don’t Scold Me has never been reis­sued in stereo: all CD re­leases fea­ture only the mono mix. The band was gen­er­ally un­happy with the sound of the album and felt that it didn’t re­flect the in­ten­sity of their live shows.”

And th-th-that’s all, folks! Note that the wording of the second sen­tence in the first para­graph is con­fusing: it can be read to mean that the reissue of the album with For What It’s Worth was in stereo only. 1

This terse tidbit is fol­lowed by a track listing of the two ver­sions of the album, which is nice to have to be able to see the changes that the sub­sti­tu­tion of the ex­cel­lent single for the mediocre LP track al­lowed the group or pro­ducer to make on the album. The entry on this album ends with two sen­tences on the compact-disc reis­sues (which are of no rel­e­vance here).


BuffSpring_Clancy

The first two sides from the first album (both by Neil Young) that were is­sued as sin­gles were very idio­syn­cratic choices: while one of my fa­vorite tracks, Nowa­days Clancy Cant Even Sing (above) should have been elim­i­nated as a po­ten­tial single just by its title! 

Nowadays everybody’s burned

For those of my readers that want some­thing longer, more in­for­ma­tive—and fac­tu­ally cor­rect—please read my re­view below. It was orig­i­nally in­tended as a sub­mis­sion to Wikipedia but, once I de­cided that get­ting me own blog up mat­tered most, this was set aside for in­clu­sion in this site. (That does NOT mean that I won’t submit it to Wikipedia in the fu­ture.) Right on … I mean, read on:

Buf­falo Spring­field’s self-titled début album was re­leased in De­cember 1966. The album was is­sued in mono as Atco 33-200 and in stereo as SD-33-200. It fea­tured both sides of their first two sin­gles, Nowa­days Clancy Can’t Even Sing / Go And Say Goodbye and Burned / Every­body’s Wrong, nei­ther of which had re­ceived much at­ten­tion from AM radio and nei­ther had en­tered the na­tional Top 100 sin­gles sur­veys.

The al­bum’s twelve tracks com­bined rock and pop with a few folkie flour­ishes but the country in­flu­ences were much more pro­nounced. This gave the group a dis­tinct sound that is often—and rather inaccurately—referred to as “folk-rock.” Note that this orig­inal ver­sion of the album—its first pressing—included Baby Don’t Scold Me as the fourth track on the second side.

De­spite the very ob­vious in­flu­ence of country on the writing of the music, the con­tent of the lyrics, and the singing of the songs (es­pe­cially by Richie Furay), it is rarely re­ferred to as “country-rock,” al­though that is the more ac­cu­rate term to most lis­teners. And they were doing this at a time when few rockers looked at country & western with any­thing other than dis­dain.

And, mu­sical and cul­tural his­to­rians take note: Buf­falo Spring­field was doing this more than a year be­fore SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO and THE FANTASTIC EXPEDITION OF DILLARD & CLARK and al­most two years be­fore THE GILDED PALACE OF SIN!

Without a hit single and little na­tional at­ten­tion from the afore­men­tioned Top 40 radio sta­tions, the album fared as poorly on the na­tional charts as the ear­lier sin­gles, failing to crack the Top 100 LP sur­veys. It would have been deleted, cut out, and for­gotten had it not been for Steven Stills’ out­raged re­sponse to the po­lice crack­down on teens hanging out on the Strip.


BuffSpring_Burned2

The second singe, Burned, had too much of a county feel for most Top 40 radio sta­tions in 1966. The com­mer­cial pressing is much harder to find than the promo seen above nut none of the press­ings of ei­ther of these two records carry a big ticket price on the col­lec­tors market.

Something’s happening here

In early 1967, the group’s third single, For What It’s Worth, be­came a na­tional Top 10 hit. Steve Stills’ lyrics re­lated his re­sponse to the po­lice riots on Sunset Strip when local busi­nessmen and politi­cians re­quested that the Strip be made palat­able for de­cent (sic) people.

The song and the recording—even the arrange­ment and pro­duc­tion – cap­tured the sense of para­noia that would dom­i­nate the second half of the decade: “There’s some­thing hap­pening here. What it is ain’t ex­actly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there, telling me I got to be­ware.”

For a fas­ci­nating ac­count of the Strip and the times and the at­ti­tudes of the powers-that-be that led to the crack­down and even­tual as­sault by the po­lice on the scen­esters, give a read to Do­minic Pri­ore’s book Riot On Sunset Strip: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Last Stand In 60s Hol­ly­wood.

In a year that would see enor­mous changes in pop­ular music and cul­ture, For What Its Worth was an early, clarion call to aware­ness that The Es­tab­lish­ment and The Man were not going to sit by idly as these changes took place.


Buf­falo Spring­field - For What It’s Worth 1967

Baby don’t scold me

To cap­i­talize on the sin­gle’s suc­cess, Atco re­for­matted the BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD album, placing For What It’s Worth as the lead-off track on the first side. They shuf­fled the orig­inal track line-up around and made room for the new track by drop­ping the orig­inal al­bum’s least im­pres­sive track, Baby Don’t Scold Me, from the line-up.

In March 1967, this new ver­sion of the album (a sort of second edi­tion) was re­leased in BOTH mono and stereo, as Atco 33-200A and SD-33-200A, re­spec­tively. This album sold better than the pre­vious edi­tion, peaking at #80 on the Bill­board LP charts. While the mono ver­sion of the album was deleted from the com­pa­ny’s cat­alog in mid-1968, the stereo ver­sion re­mained in print for years.

For a long time, BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD was over­looked by critics and writers: the record­ings’ flat and life­less sound (blame falls on the pro­ducer and the en­gi­neers) played a large part in that. In the past few decades, this album has been re-evaluated: the strong songs and the strong per­for­mances are dif­fi­cult to over­look.

The three ex­cep­tional lead singers—Furay, Stills, and Neil Young—who also har­mo­nized nicely (and with a pro­nounced country feel, NOT folk) and were three fine song­writers. Stills and Young were both ex­cep­tional, if idio­syn­cratic, lead guitar players, each with a unique sound. The album now en­joys a much more fa­vor­able rep­u­ta­tion.

Some­where in the in­ter­vening years, the stereo master tape for Baby Don’t Scold Me was ‘misplaced’—which is record com­pany jargon for stupidly-tossed-in-the-garbage or foolishly-reused-and-taped-over or idiotically-allowed-to-leave-the-studio (i.e., stolen). Con­se­quently, Baby Don’t Scold Me has not been reis­sued in stereo since the orig­inal 1966 pressing of the album (SD-33-200) was deleted from the cat­alog! All compact-disc re­leases fea­ture the mono mix.


ForWhatItsWorth_PS_Japan

ForWhatItsWorth_EP_France

While the group’s third single, For What It’s WorthAtco did not bother with a pic­ture sleeve for the US re­lease. But At­lantic in Japan did issue a nice looking sleeve (above top) while France fol­lowed the sin­gle’s suc­cess with an EP (above bottom).

Avid Record Collector’s Price Guide

Both of the two early sin­gles noted above are rather rare, al­though the prices paid for them do not re­flect the dif­fi­culty that you would have finding a near mint (NM) copy in 2013. Re­searching these records, I came across both a listing and an image of a pic­ture sleeve for the first single, Nowa­days Clancy Can’t Even Sing. I have never heard of this item be­fore, let alone seen one. This, of course, makes me want to ques­tion the au­then­ticity of this item …

Re­garding the two press­ings of the album: on the first pressing with Baby Don’t Scold Me, the stereo ver­sion (SD-33-200) is much more dif­fi­cult to find than the mono (33-200). Con­se­quently, it is a rarer and more valu­able record.

The reason? In 1966, first press­ings of many LPs—and es­pe­cially of a début album from an un­known artist—were gen­er­ally the mono ver­sion, be­cause it cost less to man­u­fac­ture and sub­se­quently cost less to buy than the stereo ver­sion.

The op­po­site is the case for the second pressing of the album: by early 1967, it was ob­vious that stereo was the sound of the future—the im­me­diate fu­ture. By the end of the year, every major record com­pany in the US had de­cided to simply stop man­u­fac­turing al­bums in monaural and offer only stereo records to their cus­tomers.

It is ab­solutely true that this was a mer­ce­nary act, as the sug­gested re­tail price of a stereo album at the time was one dollar ($1) more than a mono album! It didn’t cost THAT much more to record and make a stereo record, hence the mark-up pro­vided a larger profit.

To be fair to the com­pa­nies, it is also ab­solutely true that we were all en­am­ored of stereo, es­pe­cially in the wake of SGT. PEPPER and the many won­drous psych-based al­bums that fol­lowed, (And this is where the legacy of the fab­u­lous sounding Moody Blues’ al­bums are for­gotten if not dis­par­aged by petty critics. But that’s an­other story for an­other time, no?). That is, the ma­jority of record buyers wanted stereo, not mono—and the com­pa­nies gave us what we wanted!

So, there was only one pressing of the mono ver­sion of the BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD album with For That It’s Worth (33-200A) and it was out of print less than twelve months after release!The only stereo pressing of value is the first: it has a purple-plum col­ored top with an orange-brown bottom sep­a­rated by a white band with “ATCO” in big bold let­ters. 

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Atco 33-200           Buf­falo Spring­field                          $    75-100
Atco SD-33-200    Buf­falo Spring­field                           100-150
First pressing record in first printing jacket with Baby Don’t Scold Me.

Atco 33-200A         Buf­falo Spring­field                           $     50-75
Atco SD-33-200A  Buf­falo Spring­field                         $     40-50
Second pressing record with multi-colored la­bels in second printing jacket with For What It’s Worth.

The stereo ver­sion (SD-33-200A) re­mained in print through the vinyl era (into the ’80s); sub­se­quent press­ings had yellow la­bels are merely used records with a nom­inal value. Note that the ac­tual rarity of this album has been over­stated: more than 100 copies have sold on eBay in the past ten years, with prices paid fluc­tu­ating from $25 to $290!

“Buf­falo Spring­field’s first album was first listed as an Oc­tober re­lease in the Oc­tober 22, 1966, issue of Bill­board. Next, it shows up again as a new re­lease in the No­vember 19, 1966, issue. It then ap­pears in a Spot­light re­view in the No­vember 26 issue, so its re­lease was likely de­layed from Oc­tober.

The Monarch number for the mono album in­di­cates a record that came out in De­cember 1966. Ei­ther this is a second Monarch number, or Monarch did not press copies in No­vember. The set of Monarch num­bers for the mono and stereo ver­sions of the record con­taining For What It’s Worth cor­re­spond to a re­lease in the first week of March 1967.” – Frank Daniels 2


BuffSpringAgain_mono

BuffSpringAgain_stereo

The group’s second album sported one of the most at­trac­tive cover art de­signs of the ’60s, a col­lage by an un­named artist. The mono jacket (above) has the cover slick placed so that there is no art above the title border at the top, while the stereo jacket (below) does have art­work above the border. I prefer the stereo jacket.

As stated above, BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD is my fav­erave Spring­field album, al­though I freely admit that the group’s second album BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD AGAIN is ar­tis­ti­cally a much more sig­nif­i­cant album. But the un­pol­ished sound on these ini­tial record­ings has a charm that ev­i­dently es­caped count­less lis­teners for many years, but not me.

Thank­fully, that time is over and younger lis­teners who have spent years lis­tening to near ‘garage rock’ sounding al­bums by up-and-coming artists/groups (who rarely make it up) do not have the fas­ci­na­tion or ob­ses­sion with the el­e­vated sounds of highly pro­duced and pol­ished al­bums that marked the second half of the ’60s.

This high-gloss sound/feel was car­ried to al­most com­pul­sive ex­tremes in the ’70s and ’80s, when the tech­nology prac­ti­cally wiped out the feel, the grit, the soul—which com­bined I have termed res­o­nance—of the music and its ac­tual recording. I often wonder what a mag­nif­i­cent album, both mu­si­cally and tech­ni­cally, like Fleet­wood Mac’s RUMOURS would sound like had it been recorded in 1969. Better, no doubt—more resonant!—but that, too, is an­other story for an­other time …


Buf­falo Spring­field - For What It’s Worth / Mr Soul

The video above is from the Hol­ly­wood Palace tele­vi­sion show, broad­cast on April 8, 1967, with Tony Martin as the host. It opens with the group faking their way through their big hit single and then segues into the first single for their second album.

Note that the ver­sion of Mr. Soul here is ap­par­ently the orig­inal mix that Young set aside for the more fa­miliar ver­sion on the album. Young mis­placed the master tape for this track and ver­sions re­leased on com­pact disc were taken from ac­etates rather than source tapes.

 

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FOOTNOTES:

1   The re­view quoted above has been edited by the Wikipedia ed­i­tors and this re­view can now be found in its place as of Jan­uary 28, 2105. The second sen­tence in the first para­graph re­mains am­biguous (but I let the com­pact disc ref­er­ence re­main this time):

BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD is the self-titled debut album by folk-rock band Buf­falo Spring­field, re­leased in late 1966. It was orig­i­nally re­leased in both mono and stereo ver­sions as Atco (SD) 33-200, but when the single For What It’s Worth be­came a hit, the album was re-released as Atco (SD) 33-200A adding [For What It’s Worth] but drop­ping Baby Don’t Scold Me [which] has never been reis­sued in stereo: all CD re­leases fea­ture only the mono mix.

The album was pro­duced by the group’s man­agers, Charles Greene and Brian Stone, each of whom had min­imal ex­pe­ri­ence as a record pro­ducer, and the band was gen­er­ally un­happy with the sound of the album and felt that it didn’t re­flect the in­ten­sity of their live shows.

The band asked Atco for time to re-record the album, but the label, not wanting to miss the Christmas hol­iday season, in­sisted that the record be re­leased as it was. How­ever, the label did give Stills and Young per­mis­sion to per­son­ally mix the mono ver­sion of the LP them­selves, and the Buf­falo Spring­field have long in­sisted that their mono ver­sion was su­pe­rior to the stereo ver­sion.”

2   Monarch Record Man­u­fac­turing Com­pany Plating & Pressing plant in Los An­geles was used by many in­de­pen­dent record com­pa­nies and even the ma­jors when they were over­loaded at their own plants. Records pressed by Monarch have a delta, or tri­angle, and an “MR” in a circle stamped or etched in the trail-off vinyl. In 1985, the com­pany changed its name to Elec­trosound.



 
 

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Hi

I have a copy of Buf­falo Spring­field Mono 330-200 that i haven’t played for decades and looking to sell it. I live in New Zealand. Email any in­terest - [email protected]