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Pieces

4.3 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

After recording his second solo album, Stills formed Manassas in 1971 with a talented group of musicians that included Chris Hillman, a former member of the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers. Manassas released two albums, 1972's eponymous double-album debut and the 1973 follow-up, Down The Road. MANASSAS - PIECES features alternate versions of two songs from Down The Road: 'Do You Remember The Americans' and 'Lies' (featuring guitarist Joe Walsh). The collection also includes the legendary group's unreleased performances of 'Sugar Babe' and 'Word Game,' a pair of songs Stills recorded in 1971 for his second solo album. The remaining tracks include 'Like A Fox,' a song recorded with blues guitarist Bonnie Raitt on background vocals and the Latin-tinged 'Tan Sola Y Triste' (Spanish for 'So Alone and Sad').
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 22, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rhino
  • ASIN: B002JG669C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,392 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Henrici on September 22, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Manassas engineers Ron and Howard Albert went through the master reels they had and compiled "Pieces"- mostly worthy tracks that were not quite album ready. The first few songs live up to what we might expect from musicians of this caliber. Manassas was more of a real band than say CSNY which was more like 4 seperate personalities working within a "band" context. They sound nothing like CSNY. Manassas' sound has more in common with Joe walsh or early Santana than CSNY. Actually Joe Walsh plays on a tune here. As the disc goes along it loses some momentum and we wind up with a handfull of 2 minute bluegrass work outs. The disc has 15 tracks but cues up at just 43 minutes, so some of the tracks really are just pieces, songs not fully fleshed out or jam snippets. The sound on the disc is good, fans who had the first Lp know it had a nice earthy sound to it. I'd like to see some live material come out- which is reported to be in the works along with some studio tracks with Hendrix (who played on Stills solo album). There are a few things here that make it desirable to collectors. I'm always on the fence about these type of releases, do they dilute an artists work, or add something meaningful to it?- I'd say this disc does both, but is better quality than usually found on archival or "deluxe" issues.
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This is a very good album. Should have been the basis for the second Manassas album. They were such a great live band, and the two disc first album is among the best albums of the 1970s. I highly recommend this for anyone, not just Stills/Manassas fans. Even though some of the cuts are just "pieces", the production quality is really very good (nothing like the "Down the Road" Manassas album, which sounds muffled and the vocals are horrible sounding). This showcases how eclectic Manassas was, whether rock, bluegrass or blues. Some real gems in this collection. I cannot wait until the live album comes out.
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Stills should have been the American Clapton. He certainly had no fewer vices and yet his muse was a fragile thing that would come and go as he engaged in different projects or dissolute directions. His records, then, can be very hit or miss, and by the 90's were largely less than impressive. And that's the tragedy. He had talent to spare and Manassas at its peak was a force to be reckoned with. After a very strong debut, he followed with an overproduced second album, a protean live document and then the brilliant Manassas double CD. Unfortunately, that was followed by Down The Road, as low a point in Stills' canon as there is. PIECES represents sessions engaged between the first record and DTR, and it's a genuine pity that this was not the second album. All of Stills' strengths are on display and none of his weakenesses. DTR followed these sessions and somewhere along the way the songs fell flat and the musicianship got unfocused and Stills' voice sounded like he had spent the weekend yelling at people. It was a mess. This, while not quite Stills 1 or the first Manassas, is a joy start to finish. There are songs you have not heard before, songs that would find life with the Flying Burritos, songs that recapitulated earlier statements from Just Roll Tape and Stills 2, and what results is a well-disciplined band hitting on all its cylinders. This band must have been a powerhouse live, and God willing, Stills has some tape worth releasing that documents just how good both the front line and the rhythm section were in concert.

Obviously, in the overly competitive framework of CSNY, this band was a gauntlet thrown at Crazy Horse and the CN back up bands of the time.
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As CSN/Y's initial rush of productivity and fame led to a split in the early `70s, Stephen Stills followed up his two self-titled solo albums with a pair of albums backed by Manassas. The group, formed with Chris Hillman and others in the Stills orbit, recorded a large number of tracks across a range of rock, country, blues, bluegrass, folk and salsa styles. Their self-titled 1972 debut was a 21-track double-LP nominally divided into four sections, but cross-pollinating the styles throughout. Their followup, 1973's Down the Road, despite its single-LP concision, had neither the spark nor focus of the freshman effort.

Rhino's new collection offers fifteen vault selections, drawn from the original sessions, that include alternate takes, reworked solo tunes, cover songs, and live tracks. As on the group's debut, the styles vary from straight bluegrass to tightly harmonized country, electric folk and rock, and a taste of salsa. The soulful rock of "Like a Fox" (with backing vocal by Bonnie Raitt) is interlaced with pedal steel, Chris Hillman's "Lies" is layered with organ and slide guitar, the electric folk of "My Love is a Gentle Thing" is filled out with CSN-styled harmonies, and Stills' "Word Game" is sped along by fast shuffling drums.

The salsa instrumental "Tan Sola y Triste" and the blue soul original "Fit to Be Tied" close the first half of the album, and give way to earthier country sounds that open with Chris Hillman's twangy country-rock "Love and Satisfy.
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