If you want to hear an under the radar but excellent live album just check out Stephen Stills Live which was issued in December of 1975. It contains the best selection of live material of his career. It is readily available in its original vinyl form or if you want to stray from the faith it has also been reissued on CD.
Stephen Stills had just finished a tour with David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Neil Young but quickly set up a series of concerts as a solo artist. This album was recorded March 8-9, 1974 at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.
Stills put together a veteran and talented band. The group included Donnie Dacus as the second guitarist, bassist Kenny Passarelli, keyboardist Jerry Aiello, drummer Russ Kunkel, and percussionist Joe Lala.
The album is not just good but is interesting as well. The song selection is a bit eclectic which enhances the overall satisfaction. The original release was also presented as one electric side and one acoustic side which was a wise decision.
The electric side begins in an all out rock mode as “Wooden Ships” blasts out of the starting blocks and ramps up the energy for six minutes. Stills shares the guitar duties with Dacus and many times lets him take the lead on this and some of the other songs. The old Buffalo Springfield tune, “Four Days Gone,” receives a good workout with Stills on piano. The medley of “Jet Set (Sigh)” and the Joe Walsh tune “Rocky Mountain Way” is fine blues/rock. The electric side concludes with another Buffalo Springfield track as “Special Care” emerges as live rock ‘n’ roll at its best.
The acoustic side is pure Stephen Stills. His acoustic guitar playing is some of the best of his career and his voice is in fine form as well. “Change Partners” is given a beautiful and moving rendition. The medley “Crossroads” by Robert Johnson and Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me” may seem like an odd combination, but Stills manages to pull it off. The strangest selection is Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me” but it is a fine vocal performance. “4 + 20” is just too short as he gives a clinic how to play the guitar. “Word Game,” from his second solo album, brings the album to a satisfying conclusion.
Stephen Stills Live proves that live rock ‘n’ roll was alive and well during the mid-seventies courtesy of Mr. Stephen Stills.