Produced by Stephen Stills and Bill Halverson
Label – Atlantic
The exhaustive turmoil and instability of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the immediate aftermath of the highly successful “Déjà Vu” tour would encourage each individual member to record solo collections over the next 14 months. The talented egos were well documented, but the four individual recordings (three of them debuts) were all equally rich in both composition and execution. Anyone expecting Stephen Stills’ self titled opener to be a gentle trawl through soft, singer/songwriter West Coast rock would have been surprised by its breadth of musical scope. The Texan, along with a startling array of “all star” buddies boldly undertakes a wide range of styles, including electric and acoustic blues, hard rock, gospel and the big band sound that his father had weaned him on. Dedicated to the recently departed Jimi Hendrix who provided guitar on “Old Times, Good Times”, there’s appearances from Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Rita Coolidge, Mama Cass, David Crosby and Graham Nash. None of the guests overstay their welcome, allowing Stills to explore his eclectic sensibilities, tastes and influences. In addition, the core of the record further portrays Stills’ multi instrumental skills, allied with his distinctive throaty rasp for a soulful, occasionally melancholic set of songs.
Without doubt, the best known song from “Stephen Stills” is the upbeat heavily rhythmical anthem to casual romance “Love The One You’re With”. The title was borrowed from a Billy Preston phrase and remains Stills’ biggest solo single. Stepping back to more familiar territory, “Do For The Others” fuses the traditional high harmonies of the past with a gentle blues sound that breathes sketches of southern spirituality across every relaxed note. The raw and live acoustic blues work out (“Black Queen”), showcases Stills’ undeniable and yet underrated guitar technique. “Church (Part Of Someone)” beautifully combines R&B with gospel, as he confidently stamps a simple gravity through the use of the vocal congregation at his disposal. There’s an unexplainable earthy honesty in Stills’ interpretation of black music which few white artists manage to overcome. “Sit Yourself Down”, carries many of the same overtones and would be a second chart success for the singer.
It’s all thoughtfully considered, musically challenging and yet convincingly coherent. “Stephen Stills” is as vital to your collection as “Déjà Vu”.
1 – Love The One You’re With (8)
2 – Do For The Others (8)
3 – Church (Part Of Someone) (10)
4 – Old Times, Good Times (7)
5 – Go Back Home (7)
6 – Sit Yourself Down (8)
7 – To A Flame (7)
8 – Black Queen (8)
9 – Cherokee (7)
10 – We Are Not Helpless (7)