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.