[Review] Stephen Stills (1970)

stephen stills album coverI haven’t listened to every solo CS&N record, but this is the best of the lot so far. It opens with the most popular of the solo bits, “Love The One You’re With.” In the middle, Stills holds his own with guests Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton on guitar and Booker T. Jones on organ. It closes on a Beatle-y treat with Ringo Starr on drums. An auspicious start indeed. Solo releases from Graham Nash and David Crosby followed, each helping to bring into sharper relief the different musical personalities of CS&N’s members. Stills took most of the trio’s musical chops with him; he could have made a fine living playing keyboards and guitar and never opening his mouth. “Do For The Others” makes plain what a shame that would have been. The songs here range from thoughtful, acoustic bits sans support to electric blues-rock numbers with rock royalty. Those two sides of Stills won’t surprise anyone. Stills with strings (“We Are Not Helpless”) and Spector-al pop (“To A Flame”) might, but they’re also two of the more interesting avenues on here. Like Clapton’s coming out party, which also featured Rita Coolidge on backing vocals and Bill Halverson behind the boards, this debut had been a long time coming: Buffalo Springfield, the Bloomfield/Kooper session, CS&N. It’s tempting to speculate on whether some of these songs had been rolling around in Stills’ head for a while. “Black Queen,” rendered here in a fiery live acoustic version credited tongue-in-cheek to Jose Cuervo Gold Label tequila, was first recorded in a 1968 demo session unearthed 40 years later. Several of these tracks have since been folded into the extended CS&N canon (“Love The One You’re With” was featured on 4 Way Street), and no harm done if you want to cross that Street and come directly here, since it has the most to offer of the early CS&N solo albums (Young, of course, being another story entirely).

Original LP Version
A1. Love The One You’re With (3:03)
A2. Do For The Others (2:52)
A3. Church (Part of Someone) (4:05)
A4. Old Times Good Times (3:38)
A5. Go Back Home (5:56)
B1. Sit Yourself Down (3:05)
B2. To A Flame (3:10)
B3. Black Queen (5:28)
B4. Cherokee (3:25)
B5. We Are Not Helpless (4:17)

All selections composed by Stephen Stills.

The Players
Stephen Stills (vocals, guitars, organ, steel drum, percussion, bass, piano, arrangements), Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels (bass) with John Barbata (drums on A5), Eric Clapton (lead guitar on A5), Rita Coolidge (voices), David Crosby (voices), Cass Elliot (voices), Sidney George (flute & alto solos on B4), Jimi Hendrix (lead guitar on A4), Conrad Isedor (drums), Booker T. Jones (organ, voices), Priscilla Jones (voices), Claudia Lanier (voices), Arif Mardin (arrangements, conductor), Shirley Matthews Chorus (voices), Graham Nash (voices), Judith Powell (chorus on A3), John Sebastian (voices), Ringo Starr (Ritchie) (drums on B2/B5), Larry Steele (chorus on A3), Liza Strike (chorus on A3), Dallas Taylor (drums), Jeff Whittaker (congas), Tony Wilson (chorus on A3). Produced by Stephen Stills & Bill Halverson; recording & remix engineered by Bill Halverson; engineered by Andy Johns.

The Pictures
Front cover photography by Henry Diltz. Art direction/design and back cover photography by Gary Burden.

The Plastic
Released on elpee, cassette, 8-track and reel-to-reel tape on November 16, 1970 in the US (Atlantic, SD/M5/M8/M 7202) and on November 22, 1970 in the UK (Atlantic, 2401 004) and Germany (Atlantic, 50 003); reached #3 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record) and #30 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1973 in the UK (Atlantic, K40341).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Atlantic, P-8013A).
  3. Re-packaged with Stephen Stills 2 as 2 Originals of Stephen Stills on 2LP in October 1975 in the UK (Atlantic, K-60063) and Germany (Atlantic, ATL-60063).
  4. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in 1976 in the US (Atlantic, SD/CS 7202, elpee label features WB logo on bottom).
  5. Re-issued on compact disc in Japan (Atlantic, AMCY-3163).
  6. Re-released on remastered compact disc and cassette on December 5, 1995 in the US (Atlantic, 82809-2/4).
  7. Re-released on super high material compact disc in 2008 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-13245).

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