Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stephen Stills 6: Live

Even though everybody in Crosby, Stills & Nash had taken off for other labels, Atlantic was still determined to make money off of them. Recorded early in 1974, before that summer’s CSNY stadium tour, Stephen Stills Live neatly presents both sides of the axeman.
The electric side, so labeled, gives him plenty of chances to wail, beginning with “Wooden Ships”, then getting moody for “Four Days Gone”, a hidden gem from the last Buffalo Springfield album. He neatly melds his own “Jet Set (Sigh)” with Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way”, which shares a riff and tendency to wah-wah. There’s even an excellent segue into “Special Care”, from the same Springfield album. The band is tight, as to be expected, and while Joe Lala’s in the mix, he’s not prominent.
Proof that less is more, the pointedly labeled acoustic side consists of Stills alone, but still showing off his flash. A medley of “Crossroads” and “You Can’t Catch Me” gives him an excuse to fly around in an open tuning, which he does to lesser extent in “Word Game”. In contrast, “Change Partners” is a simple strum, “4 + 20” nicely restrained and the cover of “Everybody’s Talkin’” a nice surprise.
Stephen Stills Live is short, typical of a label cash-in, and likely not to be expanded anytime soon. It’s still a better overview than Still Stills, a “best-of” released late in 1976 that leaned heavily on his first solo album and Manassas.

Stephen Stills Stephen Stills Live (1975)—

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