Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stephen Stills 8: Thoroughfare Gap

Compelled to keep making records, Stephen Stills followed the success of the CSN reunion with an album as disappointing as Illegal Stills and his lackluster half of Long May You Run. Apparently three albums in two years’ time wasn’t enough to convince him to slow down, as Thoroughfare Gap should have been allowed to bake a little longer (no pun intended, but we’ll take it anyway).
People flock to Stills for his prowess on the fretboard, so “You Can’t Dance Alone” is proof that he spent too much time hanging around the studios where the Bee Gees made their disco comeback; in fact, young Andy Gibb sings here, and elsewhere. The title track is a welcome detour back to the laidback country of the Manassas era, and based on some of the musicians listed it might even be of that vintage. “We Will Go On” begins with some “Dark Star”-type promise, but disco takes over and makes it tough to enjoy. “Beaucoup Yumbo” almost works despite itself, thought the N’awlins vibe is overseasoned by the strings. There’s a decent song hidden beneath the slick gloss of “What’s The Game”, but only if you like cowbells and guiros.
A fairly straight cover of the Allmans’ “Midnight Rider” doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but at least it delayed his annual insistence in singing a song written in Spanish until side two. From the title, “Woman Lleva” is sloppy; any high school student would know it should be “Mujer Lleva”, but that wouldn’t fit the meter. “Lowdown” has some dirty guitar over a dull groove and too big a choir, and it sounds like the limp cover of “Not Fade Away” was recorded immediately after. And though “Can’t Get No Booty” is likely meant as a joke, this kind of throwaway track is so unlike Stills that it simply reeks.
He may have been the main architect of the CSN sound, but left to his own devices, Stephen Stills simply couldn’t be trusted. Thoroughfare Gap didn’t even get reissued on CD until nearly 30 years later, crammed into a package with the previous two solo albums. It has not been missed.

Stephen Stills Thoroughfare Gap (1978)—2

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