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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
109
Just Roll Tape: April 26, 1968
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:$10.86+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on February 26, 2015
I really like this album. It is just Stephen Stills and his acoustic guitar singing early demos of what became popular hits with CSN and his solo career. This was recorded in 1968, shortly before CSN started work on their first album. Fans of Stephen Stills & CSN will hear early takes on 'Change Partners', Black Queen, 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes', 'Helplessly Hoping', 'Wooden Ships', among others. While none of these songs are better than versions released with CSN or on Stills solo albums; it is interesting to hear the early versions of these songs before they became fully realized. Certainly, Stills fans & CSN fans, will not be disappointed.
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on April 8, 2014
I've always loved Stephen's singing from this period, and this is a great look at the process of evolving songs. You have to be pretty brave to write songs; you have to try for something new without just getting weird, a delicate balance, and not worry about being sappy. We hear some of these now and know they became classics, but who knew then? Takes a lot of faith.

I hadn't heard "Treetop Flyer" before, just great.

And it's good to hear artists with minimal production, keeping it real. (Get Neil Young's Live at the Cellar Door too.)
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on June 24, 2013
I listen to this all the time; the most 'real' record I have. So cool to hear versions of songs that made it on to later records, such as Manassas, Stephen Stills 1 and 2, and CSN. Some tracks are formative, some fairly refined. Cliche but it's like you're there hanging out with Steve while he's working stuff out.

"Know you've got to run" stands out as being an order of magnitude more awesome than the regular version.

"Treetop Flyer" guitar and vocals are much more suitable to the song than the produced version in my opinion.

If you like Stills at all, or think you might, this is a true must for your collection. Wicked awesome.
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on August 13, 2007
Wow. I can't believe this album (oh, wait, it's a CD, isn't it?). It's a great look into one of the great talents of the late 60s rock era. CSN(&Y) was the first of the "supergroups" built from members of other great bands. Though I've always been a fan, it never really registered on me that Stills had so much impact on CSN's early albums.

I'm amazed to see how all of the songs have held up, despite the lack of polish. The recording leaves a fair amount to be desired - there is tape hiss, mic/preamp overload, buzzing strings, a few bricks hit by the artist - but then, Stills principally wanted the tunes on tape so he could discuss them with others. Beauty. It's more like a solo live album than anything else.

We can also see what's lost to time... I heard Stills on The Late Show (Leno) the other night, and his voice just isn't what's captured on these recordings.

I'd challenge other artists to release 40-year-old test recordings to see how THEY stack up against their peers. Hmmm... interesting problem... how many 60-year-old rockers are still truckin' out there?
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on October 28, 2011
Loving Stephen Stills, I have searched everywhere for something not so polished, not so produced as all the other albums. I remember once hearing Stephen's voice soar over an acoustic Blue Bird Revisited, and wondered if it ever was recorded. While Blue Bird wasn't on this album, so many other songs are, and it feels like getting to sit at a campfire late at night with just Stills and his guitar. Unbelievable that a 23 year old young man sat down and laid out this material in one night 40+ years ago. I've got a 23 year old aspiring musician with no one to listen to but I'll find a way to turn him on to this precious work.
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on March 26, 2008
JUST ROLL TAPE is like finding a missing musical link, in this case one that was lost for almost 40 years. On April 26, 1968 --- 9 days before Buffalo Springfield's farewell concert and six months before recording the first CSN album --- Steve Still's stayed in the studio after a Judy Collins Session to put down on tape some new songs he was working on. Some would end up on CSN's first record, some on his solo and Manassas recordings, some never to be heard again. We hear Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Helplessly Hoping, and Wooden Ships as they were being birthed (or close to), Change Partners and Now Begins the Task, Black Queen, and others. The "unreleased songs" are not throw-aways, just lost. The stand-out from these is The Doctor Will See You Now -- who knows why this never made it on to a commercial recording. Just Roll Tape is worth a listen , and then another, and another.
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on November 13, 2007
In his prime, Stephen Stills was a powerhouse as a musician. Great bluesy voice, strong songwriter, and versatile guitarist. This is a glimpse into this period, a transitional year when Buffalo Springfield had disbanded and CSN was incubating. Better yet, this is just Stephen and his guitar. And the sound quality is surprisingly good.

Believe it or not, I went to see Buffalo Springfield but couldn't get in the door cause I couldn't pay the $3 ticket to get in. I was 14. I have since managed to see different configurations of C,S,N,Y fifteen or twenty times and it is always a treat. Wouldn't hesitate to see any of this group again. My one wish is that someway, a live recording will be released of Stephen and Neil's shows that resulted in the 'Long May You Run' album. Pauly Pavilion at UCLA was one of these shows. Without a doubt, the best dueling guitars I have ever heard.

Wolfgang's Vault has some really good CSNY shows, including accoustic shows. Check out that website and you're in for a treat.
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on September 7, 2007
Just Roll Tape catches Stephen Stills when he is laying down the demo tracks for what will become some of his greatest hits. No embellishments here, the beauty is in the simplicity. All these songs are fully formed awaiting only the polish needed to put them on top of the charts. Stripped down, the stories he tells really stand out. Change Partners is almost surreal in painting a picture of the cotillion class; you can almost see Judy Collins soaking in his ode to her on Suite: Judy Blue Eyes. Wooden Ships and Helplessly Hoping are just magnificent, while Black Queen will get a little working over before release on his solo album.

I don't think you can miss with this album, it has its' rough spots but what the heck! It was recorded spontaneously after a Judy Collins sessions and so it is the real deal, no BS just Stephen and his guitar.

Barney at the Beanery
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on July 4, 2016
I like this a lot! Other reviewers have covered details well. I'm just going to add my 5-star thumbs up. When you listen to this in the context of when and how it was done, it's astoundingly enjoyable. (Even my guitar-playing, 20-something year old son was excited to hear it.)
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on September 13, 2007
This little flawed masterpiece has all the charm of a first take. Songs that were later hits are presented here with the vocal a little off mike, a few mis-notes on the guitar and a muffled word or two. The boyish, sincere appeal of the lyrics and music make up for any errors in what was intended to be a demo anyway. There's plenty of room to add your own harmonies to Crosby, Stills and Nash celebrated Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Helplessly Hoping, Wooden Ships, and supply a new ooh or ahh to the more unfamiliar songs. It's tempting to apply a Freudian interpretation to a song about dreaming of snakes, but its best to just put this one on the CD at your bedside table, listen to it late at night, and maybe wish you were Judy.
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