Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From The Bargain Bin: Stephen Stills

If I told you that there was a studio album featuring Stephen Stills, Ringo Starr, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Booker T. Jones, David Crosby, Graham Nash, John Sebastian, and 'Mama' Cass Elliott, you probably wouldn't believe me. ....And I probably wouldn't have believed me either, except for the fact that I found it in a crate of vinyl in my local record store....for three whole dollars.

The album is Stephen Stills' self-titled solo debut and it was released on November 16, 1970, shortly after the breakup of CSNY and their success with Deja Vu. The track 'Old Times Good Times' features Jimi Hendrix on guitar and is the last released studio material that he recorded before he died on September 18th, two months before the albums' release. 'Go Back Home' finds Stephen trading licks with Eric Clapton and was recorded within a few months of Clapton meeting and recording with Duane Allman in Derek and the Dominos' Layla sessions. Ringo Starr appears on two tracks, credited only with the single name "Richie" on the album sleeve. Presumably, this was due to record labels issues that would have precluded him from recording on the album without his label's consent. Less than a year earlier, George Harrison recorded guitar parts for Delaney, Bonnie, and Friends under his pseudonym L'Angelo Misterioso for the same reason. The second track that Ringo plays on is titled 'We Are Not Helpless', which is Stills' musical reply to Neil Young's 'Helpless' (featured so beautifully in The Band's The Last Waltz). Mama Cass' appearance on the same track is significant in that she was the one who invited Graham Nash over to Joni Mitchell's house to meet Stills and David Crosby for the first time.

The full Stephen Stills album runs just under thirty-nine minutes, but in that time one hell of a historic artifact was produced, featuring some of the most important figures in modern music. It doesn't hurt that the concert staple 'Love The One Your With' opens the album and starts things off strongly. The track's name was inspired by the one and only fifth Beatle, Billy Preston. The album peaked at #3 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums in the chart in the week of December 5, 1970.

Take a listen to 'Old Times Good Times' featuring the legendary Jimi Hendrix on guitar and Stills ripping it up on organ.

Related: Stills has recently found an albums worth of rare tracks recorded by Hendrix and himself in 1970, which is slated to be produced by Graham Nash and released.

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