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Music Review: Stephen Stills – Stephen Stills

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Buffalo Springfield was long gone, Crosby, Stills, & Nash was on hiatus, and Neil Young was nowhere to be found. November of 1970 found Stephen Stills releasing his first self titled solo album. It would prove very popular reaching number three on The United States album charts and producing two top forty singles.

Stephen Stills solo efforts have been spotty over the years but his debut was a winner. Freed from the confines of a group setting, he was able to let his creative juices flow and not worry about the consequences. At this point in time he was a huge star and was able to surround himself with a virtual Who’s Who of supporting musicians. Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Ringo Starr, John Sebastian, Booker T. Jones, Rita Coolidge plus old friends Graham Nash and David Crosby are all on board.

He experiments with a number of styles but the hits are both straight rock ‘n’ roll. “Love The One You’re With” remains one of his best known solo songs and just flows along. “Sit Yourself Down” has an interesting tempo and features stellar guitar work. “Black Queen” is an acoustic blues tune and has remained a part of his live repertoire for decades. “Go Back Home” is another bluesy tune as he shares top billing with Eric Clapton.

He goes in a gospel direction with a couple of compositions. “Church” and the beautiful “To A Flame” both take him in an unexpected but interesting direction. His vocals are strong and expressive as he explores musical territory which is unique in his career.

Some other highlights include the acoustic and philosophical “Do For The Others,” the jazzy rocker “Cherokee,” and the building “We Are Not Helpless.” Oddly the autobiographical “Old Times Good Times” with Jimi Hendrix on guitar is my least favorite track.

He finally escapes from the shadows of his famous band mates as this is a complete Stephen Stills production. He wrote all of the songs, sang lead, plays guitar, bass, keyboards, and some percussion, plus co-produces the affair. It all adds up to his strongest solo effort. If you are a fan of Stephen Stills this album is essential.

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About David Bowling

  • http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=463156 JC Mosquito

    Although I understand why you said that he escaped from the shadows of his band mates with this album, I’d say if anything this shows how central Stills was to the CSN(&Y) or even the Buffalo Springfield (also with Y) sound. In retrospect, a lot of those tunes sound like Stills’ was running the show anyways.

    Yeah, this album and the first Manassas, the first CSN and the first CSNY – heck, even the first Buffalo Springfield – a quintet than any artist would be proud to list among their accomplishments.

  • jeff

    Stephen Stills is one of the most talent musicians alive today! His song writing ability is phenomenal and his technical ability is right up there with Jimmy. I think that Stills should be listed as one of the top ten best guitar players of all time!

  • charlie

    stephen is a country-rock, rock and roll, country blues, blues icon. i have followed his work for 45 years now. the man has survived 50 years in the music business and still surprises, amazes me and sometimes disappoints me album after album.
    he’s a musician and songsmith first and foremost and because of that he has never had to resort to cutting a pop song.