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"I want to play, I want to sing. I want to make good records." Stephen Stills.

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.
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on March 26, 2013
Much like the Crosby & Nash box sets this 4-cd collection shows a similar dip in quality levels from about 1975 or mid way through disc 3 here. But this box set highlights Stills stunning career from 1966-73 with tracks from The Buffalo Springfield, CSN, CSNY and the superb Manassas double from 1972. Whilst Crosby's had an extra cd of extras & unreleased tracks here we have about 20 of these most of which disappoint especially the much talked about Stills Hendrix collaboration of which we have barely 3 minutes. The real howler for me is that once again a box set has failed to supply the fans with the 9-minute 'Bluebird' missed off the Springfield box set not here. Maybe Graham Nash who compiled this box set thought we need to have some stuff from the 80s & 90s - no we don't. 5 stars for his songs with Buffalo Springfield, his stunning first 2 solo albums, CSN debut & the timeless Manassas record. A lavish booklet is also here, but it's strange that known as Captain Manyhands during the 60s Still has had little involvement in this box set. An essential purchase BUT if you haven't any of the above can I suggest you purchase these other records first.

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.
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on March 26, 2013
How can you not give this box set 5 stars, this is a testament to Stephen Stills life's work so you know it has to be superb on all fronts. This is an acoustic wet dream.

"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.

I read...

"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
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on March 26, 2013
I grew up on CSNY but not Stills. "Carry On" though is like a deep gasping dunk in an ocean wave. Over and over, song after song his raspy energy just pushes. Sound quality is stupendous, nuanced, rounded. The set is just roughly chronological. The book's songlist has no "thoughts" about each song, just credits and production history but that contains its own surprises: Ringo, Bonnie Bramlett, Jimmy Page. Bill Halverson shows up as again and again. And Calvin Samuels and Joe Vitale. FortyOne pages of essay. Pictures are unique views of images we've seen before. A page listing a bunch of Stills' session work. There's a dedication to Ahmet Ertegun, the Atlantic Records founder, and to Colette Lucas Sanson, Stills' former mother-in-law. I'm gleeful that the package follows the dense typology of the Graham Nash Reflections and David Crosby Voyage boxsets. And in the end there's hours and hours of 82 songs of swaying, bounding blues and rock hard music.
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on April 7, 2013
First of all, I've read a lot about the fact that this box set doesn't go deeper into the vaults and give us more unreleased material. As a long-time fan, I would love to see more of that myself, but let's be realistic. This box isn't here just to give us rare and unreleased tracks; it's a retrospective that attempts to appeal to obsessive fans and more casual fans alike, and represent Stills in the best possible light. On those terms, it succeeds beautifully. There are plenty of rare tracks to keep me interested, and even though I've been convinced of his genius for a long time now, when I listen to this box that genius comes into focus even more clearly. Stills has contributed more to the music of his time than most people realize. For What It's Worth; Bluebird; Suite: Judy Blue Eyes; Helplessly Hoping; Carry On; Love the One You're With; Change Partners; the list goes on. Has there ever been another artist who can span so many genres as beautifully and successfully as Stephen Stills? Is there anything musically this guy can't do, and do exceptionally well? Gorgeous package, great photos, excellent essays -- this is beautifully put together. Many thanks to Graham Nash and Joel Bernstein for getting this done, and of course to Stephen Stills for the music.

Thank God he failed that Monkees audition.
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on March 30, 2013
I would give this set 10 Stars if I could!!!! Graham Nash & Joel Bernstein did a wonderful job presenting the career of one of the most important artists of the past 50 years. If you are or ever were a fan of Stephen Stills, buy this!!! From the amazing sound quality to the wonderful booklet, a portrait of the man emerges and it is rock hard, soulful and brilliant!
From his inspired song writing to his beautiful voice and his virtuoso guitar skill (not to mention all the other instruments he can play as well as anyone), the essence of Stephen Stills as an artist is there for all to hear. Like other reviewers have noted, I wish that there were more live performances because he is truly electrifying live but I also realize that you can't please everyone and we should trust that they picked the best versions to showcase this amazing talent at his best. And best of all, I don't think he is done yet! Rock On Stephen!!!
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on April 1, 2013
Any fan of Still's will be pleased with this box set. Is it as comprehensive as it could've been? Probably not, but even with four disc's it would be difficult to satisfy everyone. Personally I would have loved to have seen included in this collection the song's from Manassas 2 "Pensamiento", Stills 2 "Word Game", Stills Alone "Amazonia", the extended version of Buffalo Springfield's "Bluebird", Havana Jam's unedited "Cuba Al Fin", Crosby, Stills & Nash's non-album B-side "Chuck's Lament" off the soundtrack from Amazing Grace And Chuck, Super Session's "It Take's A Lot To Laugh...", the updated remake of "Love The One Your With" from the Prefontaine soundtrack, the "Sweet Home Chicago" duet with Jimmy Rodger on Rodger's Blues, Blues, Blues tribute. Also from the tribute album Love John Lennon Forever the Stills version of "Come Together", plus Still's collaboration off Flaco Jimenez's Partners album, the accordion driven version of "Change Partner's", from Right By You the cut "Stranger", and from the Wretches & Jabberers soundtrack "Low Barefoot Tolerance". I suppose a fifth disc would've been required to complete this box set and understandably would be cost prohibitive, but one can still wish. Addressing what is actually on the box set just how good is "To A Flame", sonically the arrangement and instrumentation sound like the other side of the coin to Brian Wilson's "Lets Go Away For Awhile", the sheer precociousness of a 17 year old Stills "Travelin'", and how about "Who Ran Away?" so reminiscent of the Springfield's "Pretty Girl Why" and "Uno Mundo". Plenty here for veteran Still's aficionado's to appreciate and an incredible eye opener to folk's who may not be aware of just how far reaching Stills talent and influence extend.
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on June 5, 2013
Stephen Stills' 4-CD set "Carry On" serves as a great reminder of how talented Stills really is. All of the highlights of his career are showcased here, and much of the lesser known material is given a new forum to be heard. Some reviews have criticized discs 3 and 4 for having too much of his newer, less classic material on them, but some of those songs stand on their own and wouldn't be heard unless they were combined with this set. Any disc that has "Thoroughfare Gap" on it is worth listening to. While his Springfield mate may have earned better reviews over the years as he switched genres and styles, Stills' best work over the last 20 years holds up well by comparison. Like any compilation, there are always things that you wish were in there. "Manassas" remains the best example of what Gram Parsons referred to as Cosmic American Music, and there are 6 six songs from that album here, but you could have put on more. That said, everyone should own the first "Manassas" album anyway. I've listened to discs 3 and 4 more than I have 1 and 2. Stills didn't stop making good music, some of it just wasn't as popular as the classic stuff.
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on March 28, 2013
Great overview of an important artist's output. Real good work by Rhino with the compilation. Excellent for both those who already know the work and those newly curious. Filled with interesting remixes, live versions and solid CD sound. Well done all the way around.
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on April 4, 2013
After all, a songwriter. Far too modest about his guitar skills, of which there are many examples here, Stephen Stills wrote over 20 classic songs, and they are not necessarily the ones you are thinking of. They are here. Disc 2 has an astounding sequence of ten songs, likely placed in the order by Mr. Nash, which runs from "The Treasure" to "Change Partners", most from the Manassas period, which are as beautiful as anything written in the era. Manassas was overlooked, as was much Stills work in the 1970s. Not hard to understand, as there was a creative burst during the time he was competing with. This astounding set corrects the mistake. An essential purchase. Bonus includes a photo or two by Sir Paul's wife Linda, which show the young man as a heart throb too! Jim Linderman Dull Tool Dim Bulb the Blog
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