Saturday , March 2 2024
Stephen Stills: Chapter 17.

Music Review: Stephen Stills – Thoroughfare Gap

I think I remember playing this album quite a bit when it was released in 1978. But I haven't listened to it lately, which means its been years and probably decades since the last time I did.

Stephen Stills had spent 1977 producing a studio album and touring with Crosby, Stills & Nash. He contributed several strong songs to the album and saw his popularity soar due to their reunion.

In 1978 he returned to the studio and issued his sixth solo album in September of that year. It would mark the end of a very prolific period of his career, as it would be six years before he issued another solo release, and four until the next Crosby, Stills, & Nash project.

Thoroughfare Gap is emblematic of many of his solo albums as it contains a few good songs among the chaff. Much of the material would have a somewhat different sound than his previous releases as he veered away from his rock/country roots. It proved to be his least commercially successful solo release to date peaking at number 83 on the American album charts.

The first sign of trouble is the number of instruments he plays on the album which include guitar, horns, strings, percussion, bass, and synthesizer among others. He would have been better served to have left more of the instrumental tasks to his huge cast of supporting players.

There are still a few gems to be found here. The title song is gentle, contemplative, and has a beauty to it. “Woman Lleva” is filled with Latin rhythms and is a direction he should have explored more often. I also still like his version of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.”

On the other hand it’s the seventies and “You Can’t Dance Alone” is a poor attempt at trying to conform to the music of the day. The title “Can’t Get No Booty” just about sums up the closing track and was not a good way to end an album. The rest of the material just disappears into his vast catalog.

Thoroughfare Gap is a fairly typical album of the seventies. As such, it remains a mundane stop in the career of Stephen Stills.

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