[Review] Stephen Stills/Manassas: Down The Road (1973)

Half the size of the first album, and not half bad, but this was the end of the road for Manassas.

Kronomyth 4.0: Down to earth.

The second Manassas record sounded a lot like Stephen Stills 2 with better playing behind it, which wasn’t good enough for critics, most of whom panned Down The Road as second rate. It’s really not a bad record, a good half of which can hold its own with the material on the first Manassas record. Highlights include “Isn’t It About Time” (which features some blistering slide work), Chris Hillman’s pretty “So Many Times,” a pair of winning south-of-the-border songs and the closing “Rollin’ My Stone.” Unfortunately, about half of the album could be accurately described as filler, including an apparently unconscious rewrite of The Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend The Night Together” as “City Junkies.”

For Stephen Stills fans, Down The Road is still a worthwhile purchase. There’s no question that the man sounds better with a good working band behind him, especially when it includes extra piano, guitar and percussion. After listening to the lovely “Guaguancó de Veró,” which references his new relationship with Veronique Sanson (the pair married shortly before the release of this album), I’m convinced that Stills should pay a bongo player to follow him around everywhere.

The undoing of Manassas wasn’t an uncertain future, but the pull of the past. Stills and Hillman would soon reunite with their former bands (CSN, The Byrds), and Manassas would be remembered as a felicitous, ephemeral alignment like Derek and the Dominos. Both bands deserved an encore, Manassas got theirs, only to find that half of their audience had left in the interim. The fault doesn’t lie with the musicians but the material, which spends too much time in the middle of the road. If you’re planning on buying three Stephen Stills records in your life, it’ll come down to this or Stephen Stills 2, so take your pick.

Original LP Version

A1. Isn’t It About Time (Stephen Stills) (3:02)
A2. Lies (Chris Hillman) (2:55)
A3. Pensamiento (Stephen Stills/Nelson Escoto) (2:36)
A4. So Many Times (Chris Hillman/Stephen Stills) (3:30)
A5. Business On The Street (Stephen Stills) (2:55)
B1. Do You Remember The Americans (Stephen Stills) (2:05)
B2. Down The Road (Stephen Stills) (3:16)
B3. City Junkies (Stephen Stills) (2:50)
B4. Guanguancó de Veró (Stephen Stills/Joe Lala) (2:51)
B5. Rollin’ My Stone (Stephen Stills/Fuzzy Samuel) (4:50)

The Players

Stephen Stills (guitar, slide guitar, piano, organ, bass, and vocals), Paul Harris (piano and organ), Chris Hillman (guitar, bass, mandolin, and vocals), Joe Lala (congas, timbales, percussion, and vocals), Al Perkins (pedal steel guitar, guitar, and banjo), Fuzzy Samuel (bass and vocals), Dallas Taylor (drums) with Jerry Aiello (organ), Pat Arnold (vocals), Lachy Espinol (additional percussion), Guille Garcia (additional percussion), Sydney George (flute), Charlie Grimes (guitar), Joe Walsh (slide guitar), Bobby Whitlock (keyboards, vocals). Produced by Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman and Dallas Taylor; engineered by Ronald & Howard Albert, Jeff Guercio, Bill Halverson & Malcolm Cecil; mix-down engineering by Ronald & Howard Albert, Stephen Stills & Bill Halverson.

The Pictures

Photography by Bob Jenkins. Design by Bob Jenkins and Buddy Zoloth.

The Pictures

Released on elpee and 8-track* on April 23, 1973 in the US (Atlantic, SD/TP 7250), the UK (Atlantic, K 40440), Germany (Atlantic, ATL 40 440), Israel (Atlantic, K 40440), Japan (Atlantic, P-8341A), the Netherlands (Atlantic, ATL 40440) and Venezuela (Atlantic, 50 028) with lyrics innersleeve. Reached #26 on the US charts and #33 on the UK charts. Israeli pressing has back cover variation. [*I’ve also seen an 8-track pressing (Atlantic, A8TC-7250) with a different track order. ]

  1. Re-issued on compact disc on November 1, 1988 in the US (Atlantic, 7250).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 2013 in Japan (Atlantic, WPCR-15258).

1 thought on “[Review] Stephen Stills/Manassas: Down The Road (1973)

  1. I’ve been listening to this album over the weekend and confirming what I’ve thought all along…It is really a pretty strong (overall effort). Lots of great musicianship from Stills, Hillman, and Manassas. If you embrace their style of music, grab it at your local used record store! 🙂

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