[Review] Stephen Stills: Manassas (1972)

Stephen Stills’ other supergroup, featuring members of Flying Burrito Brothers and CSN alumni, was a country-rock hit.

Kronomyth 3.0: All trains must pass through Manassas.

As the CS&N solo albums slowly bled into the bland, Stephen Stills set his sights on a new supergroup featuring a couple of leftover Burritos (Chris Hillman, Al Perkins) and a backing band that included CS&N alumni Dallas Taylor and Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels. Dubbed Manassas (inspired by the cover photo taken during a tour through Virginia), the band released a double elpee’s worth of new material from Stills that represented, to date, the largest single outpouring of Stephen’s creative muse.

In a sense, Manassas is his All Things Must Pass, a magnum opus that shows his multifaceted muse in its most flattering light. Country, rock, blues, folk, Caribbean, it’s all in here and spread over four album sides with the best backing band he’s ever had. Although George Harrison’s was the higher achievement, even with an album side of jams, Manassas has a similar effect on Stills fans, insofar as it’s a tower by which his other albums are judged and by which his legend will ultimately be measured.

The twenty-two songs themselves range from good to great, sticking mostly to the country-rock sound of the Flying Burrito Brothers, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Eagles and, of course, Crosby, Stills & Nash. Stills tosses in some unexpected surprises, however, and the results sound more like Fleetwood Mac (“It Doesn’t Matter”) and Cat Stevens (“Bound To Fall”) in a couple of spots. Manassas has at least a half-dozen songs that belong in a discussion of his best work including “Anyway,” “Colorado,” “So Begins The Task,” “The Treasure (Take One),” “How Far” and “Johnny’s Garden.” While I was impressed with his first two albums, my estimation of the man as a songwriter grew some after hearing Manassas–and this even after the CS&N albums. If you’re looking for the most interesting of the CS&N solo projects, Manassas will have you seeing double.

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Original 2LP Version

The Raven
A1. Song of Love (3:28)
A2. Rock & Roll Crazies (Stephen Stills/Dallas Taylor) / Cuban Bluegrass (Stephen Stills/Joe Lala) (3:34)
A3. Jet Set (Sigh) (4:25)
A4. Anyway (3:21)
A5. Both of Us (Bound To Lose) (Chris Hillman/Stephen Stills) (3:00)
The Wilderness
B1. Fallen Eagle (2:05)
B2. Jesus Gave Love Away For Free (3:00)
B3. Colorado (2:53)
B4. So Begins The Task (4:00)
B5. Hide It So Deep (2:46)
B6. Don’t Look At My Shadow (2:31)
Consider
C1. It Doesn’t Matter (Chris Hillman/Stephen Stills) (2:50)
C2. Johnny’s Garden (2:46)
C3. Bound To Fall (Michael Brewer) (1:54)
C4. How Far (2:52)
C5. Move Around (4:17)
C6. The Love Gangster (Stephen Stills/Bill Wyman) (2:52)
Rock & Roll Is Here To Stay
D1. What To Do (4:44)
D2. Right Now (3:00)
D3. The Treasure (Take One) (3:09)
D4. Blues Man (4:05)

All songs written by Stephen Stills unless noted.

The Players

Stephen Stills (voices, guitars, keyboards, bottleneck guitar, acoustic guitars, Expanded Series III Moog synthesizer), Paul Harris (piano, organ, electric piano, clavenette, tack piano), Chris Hillman (voices, guitars, mandolin), Joe Lala (congas, timbales, percussion, voices), Al Perkins (guitars, steel guitar, voices), Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels (bass), Dallas Taylor (drums) with Jerry Aiello (keyboards), Byron Berline (fiddle), Roger Bush (acoustic bass), Malcolm Cecil (synthesizer programming), Sydney George (harmonica), Bill Wyman (bass). Produced by Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman and Dallas Taylor; engineered and mixed by Ronald and Howard Albert.

The Pictures

Cover design by Ira H. Wexler and Stephen Stills. Photography by Ira H. Wexler.

The Plastic

Released on 2LP, cassette and 8-track on April 12, 1972 in the US (Atlantic, SD2/CS2/8STC-2-903), the UK (Atlantic, K-60021), Germany (Atlantic, ATL 60 021/2) and Japan (Atlantic, P-5053/4A) with gatefold cover, innersleeves and lyrics poster; reached #4 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record) and #30 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on 2LP in c.1975 in the US (Atlantic, SD2-903) {75 Rockefeller label} with gatefold cover and lyrics poster.
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 1988 in the US (Atlantic, 903-2).
  3. Re-released on remastered compact disc on December 12, 1995 in the US (Atlantic, 82808-2) and Japan (Atlantic, AMCY-2698).
  4. Re-released on 200g vinyl 2LP in 2005 in the US (Classic Records).
  5. Re-released on remastered 180g vinyl 2LP on March 30, 2010 in the US and the UK (Rhino, 79891) with gatefold cover.
  6. Re-issued on remastered compact disc on September 25, 2013 in Japan (Atlantic, WPCR-15257).

The Last Word

Everybody said “Why are you doing a double album?” I listen to it now–it overreached a little bit. It didn’t quite get there, but it was sure damn close. — Stills in an interview with Sounding Out.

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