Stephen Stills (album)

Stephen Stills is the debut solo album by American musician Stephen Stills released on Atlantic Records in 1970. It is one of four high-profile albums (all charting within the top fifteen) released by each member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the wake of their 1970 chart-topping album Déjà Vu, along with After the Gold Rush (Neil Young, September 1970), If I Could Only Remember My Name (David Crosby, February 1971) and Songs for Beginners (Graham Nash, May 1971). It was primarily recorded between CSNY tours in London and Los Angeles. It was released in the United States on November 16, 1970, and in the United Kingdom on November 27, 1970.

Stephen Stills
Stephen Stills sitting outside in the snow and playing a guitar, with a toy giraffe nearby
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 16, 1970 (US)
November 27, 1970 (UK)
RecordedJanuary 1970, June–July 1970
StudioIsland Studios, London; The Record Plant, Los Angeles; Wally Heider Studios, Los Angeles
GenreFolk rock, hard rock[1]
Length38:56
LabelAtlantic
ProducerStephen Stills, Bill Halverson
Stephen Stills chronology
Super Session
(1968)
Stephen Stills
(1970)
Stephen Stills 2
(1971)
Singles from Stephen Stills
  1. "Love the One You're With" / "To a Flame"
    Released: November 1970
  2. "Sit Yourself Down"/"We Are Not Helpless"
    Released: January 1971
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic[1]
Christgau's Record GuideC+[2]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[3]

The album features many themes common to 1960s' countercultural beliefs, with many songs directly inspired by Stills' on-going and previous relationships with girlfriends and members of CSNY. The album was an immediate commercial success, in both the UK and the US, going top ten and being certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

BackgroundEdit

The album was mainly recorded at Island Studios in London between the two CSNY tours of 1969 and 1970. Stills had bought a mansion in Surrey, England, for £100,000 called Brookfields, which previously belonged to Ringo Starr, and Peter Sellers. This, on the advice of Ahmet Ertegun, head of Atlantic Records, allowed him to get away from Los Angeles and the deteriorating relationships within CSNY.[4] The songs recorded at Island Studios, include "Old Times, Good Times", "To a Flame" and "Go Back Home". After the 1970 CSNY Tour, Stills recorded a few more songs in LA, and most of the backing vocals. Graham Nash recalled in his book Wild Tales: "Stephen called and said, 'You remember that song of mine, "Love the One You’re With," that I cut in London? Well, I’ve brought the track back and we’re in Wally Heider’s with it. I need voices for the choruses. Any chance you and David would come down?'"[5] In addition to Crosby & Nash, the album features an array of well-known guest musicians, including John Sebastian, Cass Elliot and Rita Coolidge who contributed vocals. Ringo Starr drums on two tracks under the pseudonym "Richie,"[6] which he also used for his contribution to the London Sessions album by American bluesman Howlin' Wolf, recorded in England the same year. Stills' album is also the only album to which both Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix supplied guitar work. According to Stills, he "bumped into Eric one evening, and he came by and the night degenerated into an endless jam of The ChampsTequila. Then we did the album track (Go Back Home) in the studio. His solo was one take and he got a fabulous sound". Also, around this time Clapton recorded the solo for "Fishes and Scorpions" which appeared on Stills' follow-up, Stephen Stills 2. Hendrix added guitar to "Old Times, Good Times" at Island Studios on 15 March 1970.[7] Stills recalled in 1991:

Hendrix and I cut a bunch of stuff together, this is one of the few things that surfaced. He was a very dear friend of mine, we were lonely in London together and hung out a lot. I left England suddenly, and years later I learned from Mitch Mitchell that Jimi had been looking for me everywhere – wanted me to join the Experience as the bass player, which would have been my greatest dream in life! It had something to do with a manager deciding it was a wrong career move and said, 'we don't know where he is.' I learned to play lead guitar from Jimi he showed me the scales and said things like, 'You begin by thinking about the chord position and base your improvisations on that.' Or he'd make some little remark like, 'F sharp is really cool,' and we'd develop a jam around that. We'd make up songs, play the blues. He'd improvise until the inspiration began to ebb, then he'd look at me and say, 'You drive.' You had to hear that cat play acoustic guitar! We once jammed for about five days, one long marathon session in my beach house in Malibu. The sheriff's deputy overheard our guitar playing. When he found out it was us he asked permission to park his police car directly outside the house so he could listen in while he fielded radio calls. Told us not to worry about a thing, he'd be looking out for us.[8]

Writing and recordingEdit

The song "We Are Not Helpless" was wrongly assumed by many critics to be a response to Neil Young's song "Helpless" from the Déjà Vu album.[9] "Love the One You're With," Stills' biggest solo hit single, peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 19, 1970, and another single pulled from the album, "Sit Yourself Down," went to No. 37 on March 27, 1971.[10] "Sit Yourself Down" and "Cherokee" are thought to be written about Rita Coolidge,[11] with whom Stills was romantically involved during 1970.[12] "Do For the Others" was written for David Crosby about the death of his girlfriend Christine Hinton.

Title and packagingEdit

The front cover photo was taken by photographer Henry Diltz during a snowy September morning outside Stills' cabin in Colorado. The pink giraffe on the cover is thought to be a secret message to one of his girlfriends, specifically Rita Coolidge who had just left him for Graham Nash, which was one of the contributing factors for the demise of CSNY.[13] In the liner notes on the back cover Stills included a poem called “A Child Grew Up On Strings.” by Charles John Quarto[14] Stills dedicated the album to Jimi Hendrix, who had died two months before the album arrived in stores, as to "James Marshall Hendrix".

ReleaseEdit

The album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart[15] in the week of January 2, 1971, during a 39-week run.[15] It was reissued by WEA after being digitally remastered using the HDCD process on December 5, 1995. "We Are Not Helpless" and "Love the One You're With" were first performed in concert on May 12, 1970, during Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Déjà Vu tour. In 2009 Crosby, Stills, & Nash released Demos featuring an early demo of "Love the One You're With". It was certified Gold in the USA (RIAA) just eight days after release on November 24, 1970.[16] By 1974, according to Rolling Stone magazine, the album had sold an estimated 800,000 copies in the US alone.[17] Originally this was the highest selling album out of the four high-profile albums released by each member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the wake of their 1970 chart-topping album Déjà Vu, until it was overtaken by Neil Young's After the Gold Rush.[18] Stills commented it would have been No 1 (most likely on the Record World Charts where at peaked at No 2) if it hadn't been for George Harrison releasing All Things Must Pass at the same time.[19]

ReceptionEdit

Reviews of the album were decidedly mixed, ranging from lukewarm to positive. Ed Ward in a contemporary review in Rolling Stone felt that the album had an "elusive" quality, and though he didn't dislike the album, and admired parts, he felt it lacked "meat". However, he felt that "Love the One You're With" would make a "killer single".[20] In another contemporary review, Robert Christgau awarded the album a C+, saying he "effortlessly swings," picking out "Go Back Home" for praise, and is too "damn skillful to put down". Yet he felt there was something "undefined about the record."[21]

However, in three contemporary reviews Record World, Cashbox, and Billboard were full of praise for the album. Record World called Stills "one of the steadiest performers on the rock circuit" and said the "result of the album was stupendous".[22] Cashbox said Stills' "keyboard, guitars and vocals were brilliant" and the songs were "among the best he's ever written".[23] Billboard said Stills was "a complex talent bursting with soul and depth" and "via brilliant arrangements takes rock to new and musical heights."[24] Richard Williams for Melody Maker 1970, said "'Love the One You're With' and 'Sit Yourself Down' are both comfortable and smooth-harmonised songs, which could have come from Deja Vu. 'Church (Part Of Someone)' is a stretched gospel song, maybe the best he's ever written with thick choral responses (I'd dig to hear Lorraine Ellisson singing it)'.[18]

Mick Jagger was quoted in the NME 1970 saying, he's 'been listening to.. and really likes Stills' new album... finding it really funky'.[25] Such was Stephen Stills stature that the two biggest releases for Christmas 1970 were Stephen Stills' debut solo album and George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. Harrison sent Stills a telegram complimenting him on the album.[26]

In a retrospective summary Allmusic calls it "a jaw-dropping experience" just short of Crosby, Stills & Nash and Déjà Vu.[1]

Rankings

In 1974, it was ranked number 70 by the NME writers in their best albums of all time.[27] The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[28] It was voted number 129 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums in 2000.[29]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Stephen Stills.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Love the One You're With"3:04
2."Do for the Others"2:52
3."Church (Part of Someone)"4:05
4."Old Times Good Times"3:39
5."Go Back Home"5:54
Side two
No.TitleLength
6."Sit Yourself Down"3:05
7."To a Flame"3:08
8."Black Queen"5:26
9."Cherokee"3:23
10."We Are Not Helpless"4:20
Total length:38:56

PersonnelEdit

Additional personnel

ChartsEdit

CertificationEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[45] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Eder, Bruce. Stephen Stills at AllMusic. Retrieved 25 May 2006.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: S". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 13, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0857125958.
  4. ^ "Notable Abodes - Fulbrook Lane, Elstead, Surrey". www.notableabodes.com. Retrieved 2019-07-06.
  5. ^ Reiff, Corbin (16 Nov 2015). "50 Years Ago: Stephen Stills Leaves CSNY Behind". ultimateclassicrock.com. Retrieved 25 Jan 2021.
  6. ^ Castleman, Harry; Podrazik, Walter J. (1977). All Together Now – The First Complete Beatles Discography 1961–1975 (Second ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 93. ISBN 0-345-25680-8.
  7. ^ "March 15, 1970 Jimi was recruited by Stephen Stills to lend guitar to his upcoming debut solo release". jimihendrix.com. Retrieved 25 Jan 2021.
  8. ^ "CSN Box Set Tracklist". albumlinernotes.com. Retrieved 25 Jan 2021.
  9. ^ Rogan, Johnny (2001). Neil Young : Zero to Sixty : A Critical Biography (2 ed.). London: Calidore Books. p. 267. ISBN 978-0952954040.
  10. ^ Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved 25 May 2006.
  11. ^ Coolidge is partly of Cherokee heritage, and is name-checked by Stills in "Sit Yourself Down" using her nickname "Raven."
  12. ^ Zimmer, Dave, and Diltz, Henry (1984). Crosby Stills & Nash: The Authorized Biography (First edition), St. Martin’s Press, ISBN 0-312-17660-0.
  13. ^ "Stephen Stills: Stephen Stills : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. 2009-04-15. Archived from the original on 2009-04-15. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  14. ^ "Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  15. ^ a b Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at AllMusic. Retrieved 25 May 2006.
  16. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  17. ^ Fong-Torres, Ben (1974-08-29). "The Reunion of Crosby Stills Nash & Young". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  18. ^ a b Uncut (2018). Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Ultimate Music Guide. pp. 20–21.
  19. ^ "Stephen Stills – Creem Magazine – The Uncool - The Official Site for Everything Cameron Crowe". Retrieved 2020-03-03.
  20. ^ Ed Ward (January 7, 1971). "Stephen Stills Stephen Stills > Album Review". Rolling Stone. No. 74. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2007.
  21. ^ "Robert Christgau: CG: stephen stills". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  22. ^ Page 1. "Record World Article" (PDF).
  23. ^ Page 26. "Cashbox Magazine" (PDF).
  24. ^ Page 63. "Billboard Magazine Review" (PDF).
  25. ^ Uncut (2017). The History Of Rock 1970. p. 35.
  26. ^ "Just Roll Tape". Lefsetz Letter. 2007-08-03. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  27. ^ "Rocklist.net....NME Writers Best Of Lists..." www.rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-09-15.
  28. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (February 7, 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 83. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  30. ^ a b c "Stephen Stills". Billboard. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  31. ^ a b "STEPHEN STILLS | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  32. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (2013-04-16). "The RPM story". www.bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  33. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992.
  34. ^ "Swedish Charts" (PDF).
  35. ^ "norwegiancharts.com - Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  36. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  37. ^ a b c "CASH BOX MAGAZINE: Music and coin machine magazine 1942 to 1996". worldradiohistory.com. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  38. ^ a b c "RECORD WORLD MAGAZINE: 1942 to 1982". worldradiohistory.com. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  39. ^ "Top Popular Albums". Billboard. 1971-12-25.
  40. ^ Billboard. 1971-12-25.
  41. ^ "Dutch Charts - dutchcharts.nl". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
  42. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Stephen Stills - Love The One You're With". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  43. ^ a b "RPM Top Singles Chart" (PDF). RPM. RPM archives. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada. January 30, 1971. OCLC 352936026. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  44. ^ "Stephen Stills Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  45. ^ "American album certifications – Stephen Stills – Stephen Stills". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 9 June 2016.

External linksEdit