[Review] Stephen Stills: Stills (1975)

A dozen new songs recorded since the last stopover in Manassas that put Stills back on track.

Kronomyth 5.0: Still Stills after all these years.

After Manassas, Stephen Stills went back to recording solo material, signed with Columbia Records and released Stills. The opening “Turn Back The Pages” sums it up nicely, as the album collects material from several sessions including one (“As I Come of Age”) dating back to 1971. The music on Stills isn’t quite as compelling or cohesive as the last two Manassas records, a point that didn’t escape critics. But it’s not a bad record by any means. You’ll find ambitious arrangements (“Love Story,” “Myth of Sisyphus”), sneaky melodies (“My Favorite Changes,” “In The Way”), a Neil Young song (“New Mama”) and what might be the best CSN song that never was, “As I Come of Age.”

The supporting players represent a several-year span of time, including some new faces: Donnie Dacus, Marcie Levy, Kenny Passarelli, Rick Roberts. If you’re a fan of Stephen Stills, then Stills is definitely worth a flyer at some point. At least it meets my expectations of a Stephen Stills solo album: solid songs, thoughtful lyrics, some sharp guitar and organ playing, a revolving cast of stars and cameos from David Crosby and Graham Nash.

You get the sense, reading some of the negative reviews of Stills at the time, that critics had simply soured on the whole CSN and sometimes Y experience. I’ll admit that their hand was overplayed and that the whole scene (The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, CSNY, Crosby-Nash, Flying Burrito Brothers, Eagles, Manassas, Firefall, Poco, The Souther Hillman Furay Band, etc.) was beginning to feel like the same cards re-shuffled. A world that had grown tired of Stephen Stills, however, was a jaded world indeed. I think there’s plenty on Stills to hold your interest, even if it isn’t the first, second or third Stephen Stills album you need to own.

Original elpee version

A1. Turn Back The Pages (Stephen Stills/Donnie Dacus) (4:05)
A2. My Favorite Changes (Stephen Stills) (2:53)
A3. My Angel (Stephen Stills/Dallas Taylor) (2:19)
A4. In The Way (Stephen Stills) (3:37)
A5. Love Story (Stephen Stills) (4:15)
A6. To Mama From Christopher And The Old Man (Stephen Stills) (2:15)
B1. First Things First (Stephen Stills/Joe Schermie/Jon Smith) (2:16)
B2. New Mama (Neil Young) (2:30)
B3. As I Come of Age (Stephen Stills) (2:36)
B4. Shuffle Just As Bad (Stephen Stills) (2:42)
B5. Cold Cold World (Stephen Stills/Donnie Dacus) (4:35)
B6. Myth of Sisyphus (Stephen Stills/Kenny Passarelli) (4:16)

The Players

Stephen Stills (lead vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, piano, bass, clavinet, organ, tambourine, electric piano), Donnie Dacus (rhythm guitar, background vocals), Joe Lala (percussion, conga) with Jerry Aiello (organ, piano), Peggy Clinger (vocals on A2), David Crosby (vocals on B1/B3), Jimmy Fox (drums on B6), Danny Hutton (vocals on A2), Conrad Isidore (drums on B5), Russell Kunkle (drums), Claudia Lanier (background vocals on B6), Marcie Levy (background vocals on A1), Graham Nash (background vocals on B1/B3), Kenny Passarelli (bass, vocals), Rick Roberts (vocals on A5/B2), Leland Sklar (bass), Ringo Starr (English Richie)  (drums on B3), Dallas Taylor drums on A3/B1), Betty Wright (backup vocals on B5), Tubby Ziegler (drums on A1/A6). Produced by Stephen Stills with Bill Halverson and Ron and Howie Albert; engineered Ron and Howie Albert, Stephen Stills, Don Gehman, Jeff Guercio, Bill Halverson; mixdown engineered by Stephen Stills, Ron and Howie Albert.

The Pictures

Front cover photo by Joel Bernstein. Back cover photo by Bill Ray. Design by John Berg, Andy Engel.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track on June 23, 1975 in the US (Columbia, PC 33575), the UK (CBS, 69146 / 40-/42-69146), Australia (CBS, SBP 234699) and Japan (CBS/Sony, SOPO-80) with lyrics innersleeve. Reached #19 on the US charts and #31 on the UK charts. 8-track features different track order. Also released as quadrophonic stereo elpee in the US (Columbia).

  1. Re-issued on compact disc on January 3, 1992 in Japan (Sony, SRCS 6189).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc on January 26, 1993 in the US (Columbia, CK 33575).
  3. Re-released on remastered, DTS 5.1-compatible compact disc on March 3, 1999 (DTS Entertainment, 4423).
  4. Re-packaged with Illegal Stills and Thoroughfare Gap on remastered 3-for-2 2CD in 2007 in the UK (Beat Goes On, BGOCD748).

2 thoughts on “[Review] Stephen Stills: Stills (1975)

  1. Anyone that’s panned this album (and I mean especially you, Christgau) has ears of lead. It is pretty dispiriting to see how many dilettantes with the taste of a garden slug have been reviewing albums in rock’s history.

  2. One of the greatest song writers and guitar players of all time stills is a genius suite woodstock listen to his version of Lea shore and all his own stuff awesome

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