Customer Reviews: Stephen Stills
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on January 22, 2000
I'm astonished by the comments of the reviewer. Stills is the most accomplished musician in CSNY: He played every instrument except the drums on the debut record and almost all on Deja Vu. While all the guys in CSNY have their strengths, Stills is the one with cache with serious players. Incidentally, it's Stills, not Clapton playing the solo in the middle of "Go Back Home." (Clapton plays the coda). Listen to Stills handle the Hammond B-3 on the jam with Hendrix. It's a shame this guy never lived up to his talent, but when this album was released he was at the top of his game.
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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.
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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 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!
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on August 9, 2000
I have to agree with all the above comments being outraged by the comments Stills was the least accomplished of CS & N. If it were just between him and Young, i'd say it was strictly a matter of taste however, least accomplished compared to Nash and Crosby ?. Just for technical ability alone this would be dead wrong but if you consider Still's tunes even before CS and N with the Springfield compared to Crosby and Nash's output pre, during and post CSN, Cmon (Sweet Judy Blue Eyes compared to Almost Cut my Hair-I think not). This is a great album with great tunes, singing and playing. Hey i'll tell you how to judge whose the most accomplished. Put Crosby and Nash on stage and let them perform anything solo, then put on Black Queen from this album, that should stop this debate about, "least accomplished" right in its tracks.
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on September 5, 2004
A few thoughts about Stephen Stills and this CD:

(1) Stills plays all the instruments except when he's joined on a track by Booker T and the MGs, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and, of course, Richie aka Richard Starkey.

(2) He was and is the driving force behind CSN and CSNY

(3) This CD went gold in November of 1970 (RIAA certified)

(4) It contains one of the greatest gatherings of rock-n-roll talent on one record.

(5) Stills is the only rock artist inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ON THE SAME DAY for his work with Buffalo Springfield and CSN.

Long may you run.
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on May 5, 2006
Who the hell is writing this review for What kind of moron would assert that Stills is the least accomplished and that his personality only comes through on his solo work? This "least accomplished" member of CS&N was actually the workaholic and control freak that dominated their albums, played most of the instruments, and probably drove the others off with his maniacal perfectionism. His "personality" is by far the strongest stamp on their albums. How far off can such commentary possibly be?

As for this album, it is by far his best solo album. I'm still waiting for a follow-up.
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on July 23, 2004
Stephen Stills never received the stripes he deserved, neither as an axeman or as a songwriter..He was the industrious pump-handle stoking successes with Buffalo Springfield, Manassas, CSN&Y, and of course himself..Chris Hillman the versatile mandolin player of Byrds fame, maintains Buffalo Springfield upstaged the Byrds when they toured together..It's said by insiders, Buffalo Springfield never captured its true sound on acetate, but were phenomenal "live", especially according to Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, who ought to know..Hillman claims Buffalo Springfield intimidated the Byrds when they co-toured, and instead of inspiring the Byrds, frustrated Roger McGuinn, and Gene Clark, the Byrd co-founders..In Fact, Dave Crosby got booted out of the Byrds when he dared play an impromptu set with Buffalo Springfield at Monterrey Pop Festival, infuriating Roger McGuinn enough to "send Crosby's bootheels wandering"..The Byrds collectively told Dave we'll be better off without you..Dave Crosby says, he still appreciates that involuntary jail break..Anyway, buy Still's albums, but most especially this cut..You'll find a peppered up collage of country rock..Stills like Phil Spector created his own wall of sound, Latin American style, consistent thru Buffalo Springfield, CSN&Y, to Manassas..This CD was Still's first solo and its a breakthrough..David Geffen claims CSN&Y should have been America's response to the Beatles..Says it all about Still's abilities as singer/songwriter..Stills polished most of the music for the groups he captained, and was a demanding taskmaster..Crosby says, when everyone was stoning out on the bus, Stills was ginning up reams of new material..He was the editor-in-chief that held CSN&Y together, brief though it was..Another interesting tidbit, was how Graham Nash stole Rita Coolidge from Stills and broke his heart..Willy (Graham Nash) was a ladies' man, and typically got the prize..But Stills, the resilient troubador, invariably bounced back from his disappointments to focus on new and improved material..The stuffed animal (the purple giraffe) in the covershot is a valentine Stills advertised to an old flame that had jilted him..Buy this CD!..It's a classic..And know more about the legacy of Stills, and his on-stage shootouts with Neil Young.."Love the One Your With" is a perfect first strike to warm to the Stills fire..And there's a depth and range to lesser know tunes that merit further exploration..This CD is by far Stills best solo effort..There are jazzy, South American influences permeating it..Stills lived in Florida, Costa Rica, and New Orleans as a child, and those places became meaningful influences..Another interesting tidbit i.e. Stills, he scored a perfect 1600 on his College Boards..No dummy, obviously..I wish i knew the salient details behind the purple giraffe and who was the intended mystery girl?..
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on May 29, 2010
I'm sorry, the reviewer states that Stills was not the most accomplished member of CSNY or who was, Graham Nash? Please...this man wrote the songs that eventually MADE these guys superstars: Suite Judy Blue Eyes, Wooden Ships (with Paul Kantner), Carry On. The reviewer is just flat out wrong. Stills is a masterful guitarist AND songwriter...this album has Clapton and Hendrix adding their indisputable talents to an artist whose talent is, itself, indisputable. Stills other solo efforts are equally as good - Manassas is a kickass album that I have replaced 2X because I have worn it out from overuse. Gavin McNutt should stick to reviewing Abba albums...
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on January 26, 2010
Let me add my voice to the chorus of complaints regarding the "official" review of Stephen Stills' first solo album. Stephen Stills was certainly not the most accomplished member of CSN&Y (I am a die-hard Rustie), but Stills IS and WAS CS&N. It was his band. It was his sound. It was his intrumental prowess. It was (mostly) his songs. Crosby and Nash were his backing singers, for crying out loud (albeit very, very good ones!).

I seldom come down hard publicly on anyone, but the assessment of Still's contributions to CS&N by the Amazon reviewer is one of the most astonishingly ignorant musical opinions I have ever read online (a rather strong statement, I think most of you will agree).

As to this particular album, if you played it for a novice they would believe it was a long lost CS&N album. It glories in the strong points of that illustrious and legendary group; alas, it suffers from their weaknesses when Neil Young was not part of the equation (occasionally too lush, California soft-rockish, or bombastic). But well worth the ride. Read the liner notes and dig Hendrix, Clapton, and other contributors. But it's Stills' gig.

(NOTE: I cannot vouch for the remastered version; I am reviewing the album as a work of art.)
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on November 24, 2014
Steve Stills was/is sort of an American counterpart to Paul McCartney. That is, a perfectionist who wanted as complete control over the music as possible, even in a band environment where the input of others presumably should matter. Fed up with CSNY at the end of their UK tour in early 1970, Stills stayed in London, made friends in the British music community, and began to record songs for a solo album. Hence some of the guest stars here.

The guest musicians here are a reflection of the diversity of musical styles. Blues, folk, gospel, even some straight rock & roll (although oddly for Stills, no country). Foremost among his drinking buddies at the time was Ringo Starr (identified as "Richie"), who appears on two songs. "To a Flame" is cool and jazzy, with vibraphone and what sounds like a Nashville-strung guitar capoed high on the neck. Ringo's drumming is somehow dramatic and understated at the same time, on as pretty a song as Stills ever wrote. When the closer, "We Are Not Helpless", seems to be running out of gas, Ringo saves the day with a characteristically simple but brilliant fill to carry it home.

Then there were the guitarists. Stills hung out with Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix quite a lot during this time, and they contributed here. On "Old Times Good Times", Hendrix's guitar strangely is buried in the mix, his playing aggressive, but overwhelmed by Stills' gospel organ. The better pairing comes on "Go Back Home". With the song seemingly headed to a close after a wah-wah solo by Stills, Clapton appears out of nowhere and winds his way through a solo that feels like an irritated yellow jacket.

But Stills has always been big on strong vocals, and that's where the real flavor of the record is. David Crosby and Graham Nash are here, but so are Mama Cass, John Sebastian, and most importantly, Rita Coolidge. You could argue that with that lineup, this is vocally stronger than anything CSN(Y) ever did.

Coolidge is an important presence in more ways than one. Great singer, yes, but at least two of the songs ("Sit Yourself Down" and "Cherokee") are about her directly. After a brief fling, Nash stole her from Stills, and that was the beginning of the end of CSNY. The songs here really are the chronicle of that.

Among all the styles, the one that seems most infused throughout the album is gospel. Stills plays a lot of churchy organ here. Even when somebody else (Booker T. Jones on "Cherokee") plays organ, it has the same sound as Stills elsewhere around the album. The backing vocals are also given gospel arrangements, particularly on "Sit Yourself Down" and "We Are Not Helpless".

There's plenty of good acoustic guitar work wouldn't be a Stills album without it. "Do For the Others" features facile finger-picking (and is thought by some to be about Crosby's recovery from his girlfriend's death in a car wreck). Then there's "Black Queen", a drunken (even credited to Cuervo tequila in the liner notes) live-in-the-studio blues that's trademark Stills acoustic guitar playing.

As always, though, what makes or breaks an album is the quality of the songs. They're all good here. Compare them with Stills' songs on "Deja Vu", and it's clear he was sandbagging his best stuff for a solo album. Ahmet Ertegun famously decided not to release Stills from his contract when Buffalo Springfield disintegrated. His faith in Stills was rewarded here. It's the best solo album Stills ever made, and the first Manassas album notwithstanding, maybe the best he made with any lineup.
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