Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Stephen Stills 5: Stills

A musician as well-rounded as Stephen Stills runs the risk of trying to do too much, when all he really needs to do is shut up and play. On Stills, his first album under a new contract with Columbia, he did that, for the most part, and the result is rewarding.
“Turn Back The Pages” has a nice lazy rhythm except for whenever the chorus goes to Havana, every time. “My Favorite Changes” sports a circular riff that would be copied by Robyn Hitchcock on occasion, while “My Angel” proves that he was right at home helping out the Bee Gees in their disco phase. Despite the cowbells and wah-wah, “In The Way” is reminiscent of some of the better moments from his first solo album, though we can’t really say how. Similarly, “Love Story” is very much lacking in pretension, and “To Mama From Christopher And The Old Man” is fresh and unlabored.
“First Things First” isn’t very exciting, but it’s short. Much better are “New Mama”, a band arrangement of a Neil Young song that had just finally been released on Tonight’s The Night, and “As I Come Of Age”, an older track with Ringo on drums and Crosby and Nash on harmonies. “Shuffle Just As Bad” is a little ordinary, though it does get away from a shuffle by the end. “Cold Cold World” adds a little mystery to the proceedings, even if we’ve heard the same lead guitar tone on every track thus far. That makes “Myth Of Sisyphus” even better, being a piano-based rumination with organ.
There’s a lot of good on Stills, particularly coming at a point in time when he and his contemporaries were getting rather self-indulgent. It’s a pleasant surprise for anyone who might have written him off by now.

Stephen Stills Stills (1975)—3

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