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2013 four CD set from the veteran singer/songwriter spanning 50 years and includes more than five hours of music and includes a 113 page booklet. Produced by Graham Nash and Joel Bernstein with Stephen Stills, this anthology spotlights the remarkable scope of Stills' career with essential recordings, live cuts, new mixes, and 25 previously unreleased tracks. The tracks unfold mostly in chronological order, and the anthology leads off with its oldest entry: "Travelin " a previously unreleased recording that Stills made at age 17 in Costa Rica. Carry On also features a number of classic songs newly remixed by Nash and Stanley Tajima Johnston. The collection boasts new live tracks, including CSN singing "No Tears Left" in 1997 at the Fillmore in San Francisco, and CSNY on stage in 2002 at Madison Square Garden with Memphis Horns Booker T. Jones and Donald "Duck" Dunn. Other famous players turn up on Carry On's wealth of material as well, including Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton, Maynard Ferguson, Ray Baretto, Willie Bobo, and Larry Harlow.
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Co-produced by Graham Nash, CARRY ON features the vocals of CSN on more than a quarter of its selections. Anyone who has appreciated Stills' atmospheric electric guitar playing on some of the best of Crosby, Stills, and Nash's body of work will be pleased to be reminded that the band was more than just a close harmony aggregation.
Starting with a very early teenaged composition entitled Travelin and a recording of High Flyin Bird with the Au Go Go Singers, CARRY ON touches down for some mono mixes of Stills' work with the Springfield. Although they are not credited as band efforts, several songs from Manassas, including the fine effort It Doesn't Matter, offer some revealing glimpses of lesser known group efforts.
Quite a few tracks from Stills' solo debuts for Atlantic Records and Columbia provide good insights into his versatility. Among the rarities on CARRY ON are part of a jam with Jimi Hendrix, versions of Dylan's Ballad of Hollis Brown and Girl From the North Country, as well as an appealing selection of live tracks and solo acoustic demos and takes.
With some of Stills' Latin influenced, percussion oriented music, CARRY ON offers some variety for those wanting an upbeat change of pace, although Stills seems to do best with songs that rely on the basics.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Most everyone reading this knows Stills' music, so here's the bottom line. If you're a deep fan of Stephen Still's music-his writing, his playing, and his expressive, time worn voice-you'll want this set. Even the unheard different mixes of already released songs are worth hearing. But I do wonder why so many were included, especially with all the unreleased studio and live tracks, both solo and with band members that have never seen the light of day. Some may quibble about tracks included or left off (the lengthy version of "Bluebird" that Stills apparently dislikes is one example), but I suppose this is Nash's, Bernstein's and to some extent, Stills' ideas of what songs he wants in an overview of his music. And Stills' writing does seem to take a slight dive beginning in the third disc, but as an overall statement this is a weighty collection. It's evident (especially with headphones) that a lot of time was spent getting the sound just right-it's smooth and well balanced, clean and without any harshness. All the music here-both familiar and perhaps not so familiar-is a testament to Stills' well spent half-century in music. From just an acoustic guitar and vocal, to full electric band, Stills was (and is) always identifiable.
From the very first track, "Travelin'" from 1962, his voice and approach to a song is already in place. Even the 1964 song "High Flyin' Bird", with The Au Go Go Singers, shows his individual style. From that point there's music from Buffalo Springfield, some of which are previously unreleased mixes that can stand on their own. And some unreleased solo songs and demos ("Who Ran Away?", "49 Reasons"), into CSN tracks, an unreleased demo of a Manassas tune ("So Begins The Task"), and a good unreleased demo of "The Lee Shore" from CSN&Y.
From that point it only gets better. The songs you'd expect to be here are, but it's the unheard tracks that elevate this collection to something special. The relatively short (2:39) "No Name Jam" between Stills and Jimi Hendrix is pretty cool. Why hasn't the rest of that music been released? I keep hearing (from Stills) that most of what was recorded is formless, aimless "junk". Hmmm. There's also the guitar dueling between Stills and Eric Clapton on "Go Back Home". The tune "The Treasure", from the first Manassas album is here in an early 70's unreleased studio version with Fuzzy Samuels-bass, the great Conrad Isidore-drums, and Stills on piano/organ/guitar/vocal. And speaking of Manassas (a personal favorite), "Song of Love" and "Jet Set (Sigh)" among others, are also here. And listen to the well known "Change Partners" (with Jerry Garcia on pedal steel) in an unreleased but good mix. Yet another gem is the live unreleased "Find The Cost Of Freedom" by CSN&Y from 1971.
From 1973 there's "Little Miss Bright Eyes", an unreleased studio track featuring Joe Lala-percussion, Dallas Taylor-drums, and Stills-everything else, which is another good unheard studio gem showing Stills' skills as an all around musician. And listen to "Now You Got To Run", an unheard live version from 1975, with Stills on vocals and banjo. Or the live "Crossroads/You Can't Catch Me" from 1977. But be aware-the edited version of Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy", clocking in at just under six and a half minutes-is here instead of the longer version found on the CSN box set.
The mono "Welfare Blues" from 1984 is Stills alone with electric guitar and vocals-yet another fine unreleased song. The live unreleased version of Dylan's "Girl From The North Country" from CSN, in 2012, shows the trio still has that great sound. The collection finishes up with a couple of live songs-one from CSN ("No Tears Left") and CSN&Y ("Ole Man Trouble") from 2002. The final song, "Ain't It Always" is a great way to end things. I may be quibbling a bit, but why wasn't anything from the 1968 album "Super Session" included? Because it's on another label? Too bad.
As for the packaging, the hard back, wallet-style cover is slightly larger than a standard jewel case (5 3/4" across X 5 1/4" tall X 1 1/2 " thick), and has thick stiff front and back covers. In between, the four discs snap into connected, individual trays (with some great photos underneath) that unfold like the plastic card holders in wallets. There's a slot for the 116 page booklet. Included is a short piece by Graham Nash and Joel Bernstein. A longer essay on Stills' career by Michael Garcia, and an in depth essay by Daniel Levitin. The remainder of the booklet is track-by-track information, and a final essay on Stills by friend David Bender. The booklet is also filled with a number of photographs (color and b&w), many new (especially the early shots) to most fans. All in all, like the music, this is a nicely thought out package to present music of this caliber.
So, if you're hesitating about purchasing this collection-do it-you'll be glad you did. In the end every track shows Stills doing what he does best. Worth the money.
Stills fans should look for a blues album ("Can't Get Enough") in the near future featuring Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Stills says it's smoking hot and he can hardly wait for people to hear it.
Disc 1 from his Springfield early songs to Carry On in 20 odd tracks - about 2-3 years shows an incredible development of his song writing skills - how many artists can show in such maturity in such a short space of time? Incredible. These days 'artists' take that long to make one record.
By Disc 4 the acoustic brilliance has been swamped by the predominance of synthesisers and drum machines, songs like Treetop Flyer are an oasis in amongst the over produced songs, which themselves are some of the waekest Stills wrote. Songs from CSN's 'Live It Up' & 'Allies' should have been left out and heaven knows what Nash & Bernstein were thinking of with 'No Tears Left' from CSNY's shocker 'Looking Forward'. It's only when Stills is left alone on 'Welfare Blues' do we hear the real Stills. Stills Alone - indeed the best way.
I blame Graham Nash for much of the poor choices on Disc 4 -where was the quality control?
There are some odd selections 'Dear Mr Fantasy' not written by Stills and was on the CSN 1990 box set - all very odd. I think Nash believes their 80s & 90s output is valid which must account for some of the weaker selections here. What we could do with is a Manassas expanded edition.
Songwriter, guitarist, producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist Stills seems to have passed most people by which is a great pity as he has contributed some truly great musical moments. Not the the easiest person to understand and with his own demons, Stills songs such as 'Do For The Others' about the death of Crosby's girlfriend in a motorbike accident demonstrate that lyrically and musically he kept CN & Y in the shade during his halcyon period. For me Stephen Stills represents the peak of West Coast music from 66-73, he's not had the best of health recently but still tours with CSN and his guitar playing shows what a talent he is/was. The CSN debut, Stephen Stills 1 (in the snow) & Manassas show Stills at his peak and are essential to any record (can I call it that?) collection.
"Legendary singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Stills, has released more than 250 songs since 1966, some solo, others with iconic bands including Buffalo Springfield, Manassas and, most famously, with David Crosby, Graham Nash and Neil Young." Contained on this new four CD set "CARRY ON", producers Graham Nash and Joel Bernstein in collaboration with Stills blueprint the remarkable and 50 year breadth of Stills' career with 82 tracks, 25 of them previously unreleased. The 71-year-old guitarist is content to let his work speak for itself with this glorious release. No Ego trip here, just pure talent.
"The material is arranged in a mostly chronological order, weaving a rich tapestry of American music, following Stills as he spreads the waters of folk-rock in the Buffalo Springfield; country-rock, psychedelia, hard rock and soaring contrapuntal vocal harmonies in CSN&Y; as well as soul-moving guitar poetry in Manassas."
The set also contains a 113-page booklet with rare photos & special liner notes.
"There are several Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young songs including `Black Coral, which Stills and Young released as a duo in 1976. Other highlights including `No-Name Jam,' a song Stills recorded with Jimi Hendrix in London in 1970. There are also new live tracks, including the CSN song `No Tears Left' from a 1997 performance at the Fillmore in San Fransisco. Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton and Maynard Ferguson all make guest appearances on songs."
No amount of touting of all the various versions of timeless classics can do this set justice. "Stills relies on the folk, blues, and rock that have always anchored him, so he never sounds like he's selling out; he's merely adapting to the times. And by not ignoring these flaws, "Carry On" winds up as a rousing, moving testament to a singer/songwriter/guitarist who often doesn't get the credit he's due."
When asked....How much regard do you have for your legacy? Stills replies...
"Well, it's not for me to regard. Graham and everybody had their work cut out for them with this beautiful package. I had a roomful of tapes about the size of two garages, and someone had to go poring through them and find the best versions of [these songs]. Legacy is something you talk about when you are finished, and I'm not finished. To answer invites too much speculation about how much self-regard I have. Ask Crosby that, but not me [laughs]"....Rollingstone
Often, Stills' skills as a guitarist are under appreciated a byproduct of being a cornerstone of perhaps the biggest folk-rock trio of its time but his virtuosity is present throughout "Carry On".
A Sprawling Four-CD Career Retrospective...Amazing
Thank God he failed that Monkees audition.