Why Buffalo Springfield’s ‘Again’ Was Both Fractured and Cohesive
By the time Buffalo Springfield started recording their second album during the first half of 1967, the five members were barely speaking to each other. Neil Young wasn’t around much. Their bass player was battling drug problems. And a series of studio musicians was called in to help shape the three main writers’ songs.
Buffalo Springfield Again, which was released in November 1967, indeed sounds like the work of three distinct songwriters at times. But there’s also a unity to the recording that pulls the trio of styles – Young’s psychedelia, Stephen Stills’ folk and Richie Furay’s country – into a mix that often sounds like rock ‘n’ roll’s splintered future. Like so many other albums that came out in the banner year of 1967, Buffalo Springfield Again opens popular music to a world of possibilities.
Two of Young’s best early songs bookmark the album: the opening "Mr. Soul" and the closing six-minute freak-out "Broken Arrow," a feast of sounds tied together with various studio tricks. In between are four songs by Stills (including "Bluebird" and "Rock ‘N’ Roll Woman," two of his finest), three by Furay and one other by Young ("Expecting to Fly," which was released as a single the following year).
Buffalo Springfield would make one more album (1968’s Last Time Around) before calling it quits, as its members branched off into other projects – most notably Stills with Crosby, Stills & Nash, Furay with Poco, and Young as a solo artist. But Buffalo Springfield Again is the moment where three young artists found their voices and brought them together in a fractured work that sounds remarkably cohesive.