Crosby Pevar Raymond

2020

When 79 year-old David Crosby’s long career in music is mentioned, most people will instantly think of his work with The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash (and occasionally Young); he is, after all, a Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductee with both bands. Sadly, rather less critical attention is paid to his other projects, with the possible exception of his 1971 solo album ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’, so BMG’s decision to reissue these two albums ‘CPR’ and ‘Just Like Gravity’ on CD is most welcome.

In the mid 1990’s Croz was recovering in hospital from a liver transplant, when he was contacted by John and Madeline Raymond, the adoptive parents of Croz’s son, who was born in 1962. The son, James, had developed into a talented pianist and had toured with Jazz fusion saxophonist Ronnie Laws; a meeting was arranged and father and son finally formed an enduring bond which also bore musical fruit.

Indeed, the first song they ever worked on together was strong enough to be the opening track on their first recording; by then they had been joined by the Bluesy guitarist Jeff Pevar, who had impressed Croz during his time in Marc Cohn’s band. Abbreviating the name Crosby Pevar Raymond to CPR, the band’s eponymous debut album was released in 1998.

That first song, ‘Morrison’, was a reaction to the biopic depiction of The Doors’ legendary vocalist and it succeeds in combining the sort of harmony voices for which CSN are so renowned with a Jazzy feel that would sit easily on a classic Steely Dan album.

The CSN feel also pervades ‘That House’, which was written by Pevar on board Croz’s schooner, the Mayan, which had also been the “birthplace” of CSN’s ‘Wooden Ships’ a couple of decades earlier. These songs also benefit from stellar rhythms provided by guests as notable as drummer Russ Kunkel and the incomparable electric bassist Leland Sklar.

The diverse backgrounds of Croz’s co-leaders allows certain tracks a Jazzy feel - ‘One For Every Moment’ features a crisp soprano sax solo which is reminiscent of Kenny G - while others are Bluesier, such as Pevar’s guitar break on ‘Rusty And Blue’. Similarly, those differing styles permit a range of tempos, with the guitar work on the up-tempo ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’ contrasting nicely with the more reflective songs.

Those gentler songs include ‘Somehow She Knew’, which was written by Croz for his wife Jan, who had comforted him after the film The Fisher King reawakened traumatic memories of the death in a 1969 car accident of his partner Christine Gail Hinton. Her death had contributed significantly to Croz’s descent into decades of substance abuse and addiction, which, in turn, led to a prison term and serious health problems; Croz addresses those personal issues in both ‘At The Edge’ and ‘Time Is The Final Currency’.

‘Yesterday’s Child’ is a Croz and Raymond composition about finally finding each other; thankfully their lasting musical bond which spawned a follow-up album in 2001.

‘Just Like Gravity’ feels more like a recording by an established band, rather than leaders plus guest musicians. The likes of Sklar and Kunkel had been replaced by a regular rhythm team of Andrew Ford and Steve DiStanislao respectively.

It is also interesting, given that Croz’s frustrations with CSN were apparently due to the unwillingness of the other co-leaders to incorporate new material in their set lists, that CPR was not reliant solely on his compositions. Only three tracks on ‘Just Like Gravity’ were composed solely by Croz; one of them, ‘Climber’, had originally been written for CSN’s 1999 ‘Looking Forward’ album, before ultimately being scrapped.

However, Croz hadn’t burned all his bridges with CSN and ‘Angel Dream’ was co-written with Graham Nash and Raymond. Although CPR was only active until 2004, Pevar and Raymond have continued to perform and tour with Croz as band members for CSN, C&N and David Crosby & Friends.

These two albums constitute CPR’s entire studio output and it’s good to have them available again. If they are well received perhaps it may lead to the reissue on CD of the band’s two live digital albums, ‘Live At Cuesta College’ (1998) and ‘Live At The Wiltern’ (1999).

(CPR) Morrison; That House; One For Every Moment; At The Edge; Somebody Else’s Town; Rusty And Blue; Somehow She Knew; Little Blind Fish; Yesterday’s Child; It’s All Coming Back To Me Now; Time Is The Final Currency.

(Just Like Gravity) Map To Buried Treasure; Breathless; Darkness; Gone Forever; Eyes Too Blue; Jerusalem; Kings Get Broken; Angel Dream; Katie Did; Climber; Coyote King; Just Like Gravity.

Gary Smith

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