on July 16, 2004
It was the beginning of a new decade and, as Dickens wrote "it was best of times, it was the worst of times," CSN&Y has made it clear there would no more "Deja Vu"s and it was impossible not to be sad as having such stunning encounter of four songwriting talents stop their four-way magic at one single album.
And then there were four solo beauties -except for Young's "After the Gold Rush," first albums for Crosby, Nash and Stills- that returned a smile to many of our grieving faces.
Although if compared to his feuding amigos I would not rate Stephen Still first solo recording the best of all four, there's nothing here that could not be considered absolutely impeccable.
Furthermore, as musical breadth goes, this album show unequivocally Stills' capacity and deep understanding of what Rock was becoming and practically every well it drunk from.
And everything it's realized perfectly, the soaring chorus and sweeping organ of "Love The One You're With;" the Gospel beauty of "Church" and "To A Flame;" "Old Times Good Times," where Stills trades licks with Hendrix himself; the horns launching "Cherokee" into its own outer space, the sensuous cadence of "Sit Yourself Down;" the tequila-soaked blues of "Black Queen;" the quiet folk of wisdom of "We Are Not Helpless" ...
Well, you definitely get the picture. This is Stills' solo masterpiece, a work of such greatness that made his follow-up solo recordings -very good albums indeed- impossible to match it. Perhaps Manassas' debut is the only other album Stills put out -then as a band leader again- that can be compared to this one.
This is an album that belongs in any serious Rock worshipper's CD collection, not because of its possible historical significance nor any prior sentimental attachment to those times, but exclusively on the strength of its musical content, as relevant and soulful today as thirty-odd years ago.
on November 14, 2003
Let's see now, he wrote almost all of their most enduring songs, provided the electrifying guitar work and the gut wrenching lead vocals, and had the only really successful solo excursions of the band (Manassas), and yet he is the LEAST accomplished member of CSN? I don't get it! The only other member of this band who even holds a candle to Stephen is ex Buffalo Springfield cohort Neil Young, who was only occassionally a member CSN. Without Stills there simply would have been no CSN at all, end of story!
This album is indeed a bit dated, particularly with regard to some of the studio arrangements, but Stephen comes through strong and clear on every song, and demonstrates here why he was one of the most creative and original musicians of his time. The musical landscape of the late sixties and early seventies would have been much less vibrant without him.
on January 8, 2004
Stills' excellent first solo album, STEPHEN STILLS, was released after the 1969 CROSBY, STILLS, and NASH album, the 1970 Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young DEJA VU album and release of the Ohio/Find the Cost of Freedom single. This album and each of the other members of CSNY's first solo albums, David Crosby's IF ONLY I COULD REMEMBER MY NAME, Graham Nash's SONGS FOR BEGINNERS, and NEIL YOUNG's AFTER THE GOLDRUSH, are all strong releases. The music on Stils' album is remarkably diverse; the first song is the recognizable CSN hit single, Love The One Your With. Do For The Others is a great example of Stills' skill for acoustic songwriting, while songs like Old Times Good Times, featuring Stills playing a great organ and Jimi Hendrix on guitar, and Go back Home, guitars by Stills and Eric Clapton, are great rock songs. Black Queen showcases Stills' blues playing. To A Flame is a great, dare I say it, romantic song, which is also just an all around great mellow song. Cherokee is also a song that I really like on the album; Stills sings well and plays great guitar and there is also some interesting flute playing too. The remaining songs, Church, Sit Yourself Down, and We Are not Helpless, are also good songs that sound somewhat similar to each other with some variation among them. All in All, a great album.
on October 31, 2003
Released in November of 1970, 'Stephen Stills' gave the artist his first opportunity to put out a work entirely his own. Nearly every selection is a classic in its own right, and each owes its success to previous eras in the artists development.
Stills hardly goes it alone in this, his first 'solo' effort. Woodstock buddies David Crosby and Graham Nash are along for the ride, providing backing vocals on several songs. Big name guitarists Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix add energized lead solos on two numbers, and a host of big names such as Mama Cass Elliot, Rita Coolidge, John Sebastian, and Booker T. Jones make contributions.
There is substantial constrast between those songs featuring the then popular 'Wall of Sound' phenonenon, pioneered by Phil Spector, and those that don't. 'Love the One You're With', 'Cherokee', 'Sit Yourself Down', and 'We Are Not Helpless' are wall-to-wall knock-out bowl-you-over tsunamis of sound. Particularly appealing is the manner in which Still's lead guitar on 'Cherokee' seems to ride on top of, and all around, the brassy orchestrations, and the opening lyrics from 'Sit Yourself Down'... "When I get restless, what can I do, when I need someone, I think about you...".
Three more atmospheric numbers, 'Do For the Others', 'Church', and the lush 'To a Flame' provide breathing room between the more bombastic tunes. On 'Do For the Others', Stills harkens back to the debut CSN album, overdubbing all the instruments and vocals by himself. In fact, on nearly all the songs, Stills contributes not only lead vocals, but at least two instruments. On 'Love the One You're With', he's playing guitars, organ, steel drum, and percussion. And 'Black Queen' stands in stark contrast to everything else on the CD. Recorded live, it featuring Stills and his acoustic guitar spitting and grinding out the only blues number available here.
The two remaining songs, the autobiographical 'Old Times Good Times', and 'Go Back Home', are the hard rock contributions, featuring Hendrix and Clapton respectively. Don't listen to anyone questioning the intensity or quality of these lead guitar solos... both are extraordinary, and Still's organ on 'Old Times Good Times', as well as his wha-wha on 'Go Back Home' perfectly complement everything else that is going on. Both of these songs are pure rock classics, staples for any collector of all that was essential from this era of rock history.
Aside from Stills subsequent work with Manassas, and perhaps his eclectic 'Live' release in 1974, there is no finer Stephen Stills collection available, and none of these songs are available on any other Stills recording, save compilations. It is an essential element of any comprehensive Stephen Stills collection.
on July 4, 2003
Can't help but join the rabid chorus of punters who are wondering what the Amazon reviewer was on when he (or she?)wrote their diatribe. This album is a masterpiece that has never been accorded the respect it richly deserves. Every song has a magical quality that occasionally emerges in the rather more stilted CSNY product, but never with the same effect. "This is a song about a card game...." still, after all these years, sends a slight tingle down my spine. I'm no musician, so won't even pretend to know whether the playing is good or bad - but I know what I like, and I like what I hear on this album. Bluegrass, rock, blues, gospel - its all there, in one neat package that many have tried to emulate, but few have ever succeeded to the level that SS did on this outing. As to his contribution to CSNY, as some have commented on, does it matter? CSNY was effectively a backup band for each of its members to perform their own songs in their own way. As far as Stills and Young are concerned, Young's pinnacle was his solo "Harvest", and this is Still's. The other two never made the starting line, other than the sole CSNY pop record. Deja Vu was OK, but SS1 is the album I'll keep on listening to.
I find myself wondering what would have happened if Stephen Stills had gone from Buffalo Springfield to his solo career without forming CSN/CSN&Y. This self-titled 1970 album was started during the CSN&Y breakup (the first one), so the music in very much in the same style Stills evinced on their albums, although certainly you can see these songs as being more personal, best represented by the hit "Love the One You're With." But, play "what if" for a moment and throw "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," "Helplessly Hoping," and "Carry On" onto this album as the Stepehn Stills solo debut and you have to wonder if the singer-songwriter could have rivaled James Taylor in popularity during the Seventies.
But Stills would never escape the shadow of the CSN&Y legacy, mainly because his was really the defining voice and sound for the group. When it became clear that there was not going to be a third CSN&Y album, this was the album that filled the gap. It is a strong album, but the fact Stills was now a solo artist seemed to imply that by definition it just could not be as good (a Beatles parallel suddenly sprang to mind: Stills is Paul McCartney, trying to recapture the magic, and Neil Young is George Harrison, finding more personal success as a solo artist but with a strong sense of John Lennon's irony. You can decide if either Nash or Crosby is Ringo).
"Love the One You're With" is the big hit here, but it will not surprise you to discover that there are other songs a lot stronger on this album. "Do for the Others" is my favorite, with "To a Flame" a close second. As he did more so with Buffalo Springfield than CSN&Y, Stills continues to explore various musical styles. "Church (Part of Someone)" provides R&B with a strong dose of gospel, "Old Times Good Times" is solid rock 'n' roll, while "Go Back Home" and "Black Queen" lay down the blues. Pay attention to the notes on this one to see who showed up to help Stills make this album. You will find Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton playing guitars, Ringo Starr takes a turn on the drums, and not only Graham Nash and David Crosby but also Mama Cass Elliott doing backing vocals.
on June 12, 2002
Stephen Stills was (and still is) my favourite member of Crosby Stills Nash & Young. So like most of the other reviewers here I am shocked by the statements by the Amazon.com reviewer. Stills the least accomplished of CSN&Y? Thats not true, if it weren't for Stills there would be no CSN&Y. He wrote the majority of their best songs and was truly a talented musician on his own as he proved here.
Stephen Stills self titled debut is arguably his best album of his solo years (only Manassas can be considered better). Most music fans should already know the opening track LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH which was one of Stills biggest hits. It featured the vocal talents of David Crosby, Graham Nash, Rita Coolidge, Priscilla Jones and John Sebastian. DO FOR THE OTHERS is a wonderful acoustic song with some philosphical lyrics. CHURCH (PART OF SOMEONE) is somewhat of an anthem. OLD TIMES GOOD TIMES is an awesome rocker with Jimi Hendrix on the guitar and Stills playing impressively on the Hammond organ. GO BACK HOME is a wonderful blues rock tune with Stills and Eric Clapton trading awesome guitar riffs. SIT YOURSELF DOWN is another lesser known hit that featured the backing vocals of Rita Coolidge, Priscilla Jones, Claudia Lanier, John Sebastian, Cass Elliot, and David Crosby. TO A FLAME is a beautiful love ballad with a touch of jazz influence. BLACK QUEEN once again displays Stills amazing acoustic guitar talents. CHEROKEE is a riveting jazzy rocker with some amazing guitar, saxophone and organ. The closing track WE ARE NOT HELPLESS is a nice powerful closer featuring the backing vocal guests once again. The song starts off as a simple acoustic piece by Stills but turns into a powerful rocking anthem.
This album truly shows the musical variety and diversity Stills put into his work. Whether it was rock 'n roll, folk and country rock, jazz, or blues rock Stills would play it wonderfully. It is also a real treat to have many guest musicians here too such as Clapton, Hendrix, the other members of CSN&Y among others. However Stills proved on this album that he could easily work on his own without the help of others for he wrote all of these amazing songs as well as played the majority of instruments.
Overall Stephen Stills' self titled debut is a wonderful album that could very well equal the brilliance of CSN&Y's Deja Vu.
It is an album of musical diversity and seems to have aged quite well. This is one of my personal favourites from him. Highly recommended!
on December 17, 2001
This was Stills' first, & probably best solo album at a time when Stills could do no wrong. Arguably the backbone of the Buffalo Springfield & CSN(Y), this album also has some great session work by Hendrix(!) & Clapton, among others.
Few of the songs were being previously performed at CSNY shows, & the Black Queen here finds him in a REALLY raspy voice (which is quite effective). Other songs on this album hold up extremely well, & probably could've been used on future CSN(Y) projects. His intrumental work, arrangements, & singing make this album a gem from this time period. And he wasn't alone, as his on & off again cronies Crosby & Young were churning out A rate material around this period.
It was hard to predict then, but his work after this solo album becomes inconsistent...& after seeing the recent CSNY project, I couldn't help but wonder... what happened? Although his guitar work was still good, his voice & frame have not aged gracefully....& he doesn't appear to be able to use his changing voice the way Bob Dylan has.
Arguably the most talented Springfield & CSNY member, this album is highly recommended. His place in rock has diminished significantly through the years, but not due to this remarkable album.
on July 5, 2000
Whoever the editor was that wrote that Stills was the least accomplished member of CSN and/or CSNY obviously knows nothing about the music or the musicians he/she is listening to. Stills began as a child playing drums, before he went on to be a multi-instumentalist. He went heads up with players of the caliber of Hendrix and Clapton. Not to diminish the talents of Crosby or Nash but there would have been no CSN album to begin with if it wasn't for Stills. After Crosby and Nash left the studio, Stephen would stay with the producer,sometimes all night, to layer track after track over those magic harmonies, adding everything from DRUMS,bass,guitar,keyboards,vocals,etc...plus learning the board from Halverson-Stills has gotten bad press for too damn long. His work ethic and sense of purpose and direction was not fashionable in the late 60's and early 70's especially around a bunch of pot smoking,misguided individuals-bandmates,critics(Rolling Stone,Crawdaddy etc...)and audience. Still's greatest failing was not as a musician but in his constant pursuit of excellence-which of course led to a very tragic burn-out. He didn't pace himself and he relied too much on other's opinions- Still's music is still thrilling all these years later- his talent and committment was/is undeniable. Don't knock the little colonel. He earned his stripes the hard way.
How on earth can anybody justify saying that Stephen Stills in not accomplished? That just plain does not add up.
Stephen Stills is a composer/singer/guitarist of extraordinarily high caliber and I sure hope CSN do a concert in my town. I have seen them twice in concert and believe me, they do not disappoint. The rich harmonies, the beautiful blending of voices and gentle guitar -- I just can't understand how on earth anyone could say Stephen Stills is not accomplished. I honestly believe this trio is nonpareil, in a class by themselves marked by their excellence in performance. I defy ANYBODY to just try listening to "Churc" and "Cherokee" and not liking these beautiful songs. Stephen Stills sounds great solo and he sounds great as one third of the world's best band. Nobody has a voice to match Stephen Stills! He is wonderful!
I LOVE CROSBY, STILLS & NASH! THEY ARE MY FAVORITES!