CD Stills/Illegal Stills/Thoroughfare Gap (CD 1239456),
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Stills/Illegal Stills/Thoroughfare Gap

  • 0. DISC 1:
    1. Turn Back the Pages
    2. My Favorite Changes
    3. My Angel
    4. In the Way
    5. Love Story
    6. To Mama From Chrisopher and the Old Man
    7. First Things First
    8. New Mama
    9. As I Come of Age
    10. Shuffle Just as Bad
    11. Cold Cold World
    12. Myth of Sisyphus
    13. Buyin' Time
    14. Midnight in Paris
    15. Different Tongues
    16. Soldier
    17. Loner, The
    18. Stateline Blues
    19. Closer to You
    20. No Me Niegas
    21. Ring of Love
    22. Circlin'
    0. DISC 2:
    1. You Can't Dance Alone
    2. Thoroughfare Gap
    3. We Will Go On
    4. Beaucoup Yumbo
    5. What's the Game
    6. Midnight Rider
    7. Woman Lleva
    8. Lowdown
    9. Not Fade Away
    10. Can't Get No Booty
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): BGOCD-748

  • Credits
    ProducerRon & Howard Albert; Don Gehman; Stephen Stills
    EngineerRon & Howard Albert; Don Gehman; Bill Halverson; Alex Sadkin; Jeff Guercio; Stephen Stills; Steve Gursky; Michael Braunstein

    Personnel: Stephen Stills (vocals, guitars, strings, horns, keyboards, bass guitar, percussion); Donnie Dacus, George Terry, Rick Roberts (vocals, guitars); Kenny Passarelli (vocals, bass guitar); Claudia Lanier, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Howard Kaylan, Mark Volman, Betty White (vocals); Al Gould (fiddle); Mike Lewis (strings, horns); Whitt Sidner (flute); Alby Galuten, Jerry Aeillo, Kenny Kirkland, Mike Finnigan, Paul Harris (keyboards); Leland Sklar, Gerald Johnson , George "Chocolate" Perry (bass guitar); Richard O'Connell, English Richie, Dallas Taylor , Tubby Zeigler, Joe Vitale, Paul Lee , Russ Kunkel (drums); Danny Kortchmar, Joe Lala (percussion).
    Audio Remasterer: Andrew Thompson .
    One of the less well-remembered sections of Stephen Stills' recording career is chronicled on this two-CD set from British reissue label BGO -- his three-LP stint at Columbia Records in the mid- to late `70s. When Stills signed to Columbia in 1975, he was coming off the record-breaking 1974 reunion tour of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Like a professional sports team signing a veteran free-agent player, Columbia seems to have thought it was contracting a major star who could mint gold records. That's the way it had worked several years earlier; in the wake of the first CSN&Y breakup in 1970, its individual members had all made gold-selling solo albums. What Columbia did not realize was that the second coming of the band, instead of serving as another springboard for each musician, instead produced an expectation in CSN&Y's audience that they would continue to come together and that what they did in their solo careers was just mark time until the next reunion. As ever, Neil Young was an exception to this rule, and David Crosby & Graham Nash as a duo, signing to ABC Records, showed that spinoffs could still sell if the label was aggressive in its promotion, going gold with Wind on the Water (September 1975) and Whistling Down the Wire (July 1976). At Columbia, however, Stills was expected to do the heavy lifting himself. He made a brave attempt with Stills (June 1975), his first album for the company. It was very much in the tradition of his previous solo albums Stephen Stills and Stephen Stills 2, featuring name guest stars including Crosby, Nash, Rick Roberts, and "English Richie" (Ringo Starr), and boasting anthemic folk-rock songs with strong choruses and plenty of tasty guitar work. In his lyrics, Stills reflected on his status as husband to French singer/songwriter Vronique Sanson and father to a son on such songs as "My Favorite Changes" and "To Mama from Christopher and the Old Man." In the same spirit, he also covered a Neil Young song, "New Mama." And he reunited Crosby, Stills & Nash for "As I Come of Age." All of that was enough to push Stills into the Top 20, barely, but the album was not a major hit.
    Its successor, Illegal Stills (April 1976), followed a mere ten months later and was one of those albums on which the artist hadn't had enough time to craft a full disc's worth of good material. There was another Young cover, "The Loner," and Stills leaned heavily on singer/songwriter/guitarist Donnie Dacus, who wrote or co-wrote five songs and actually sang lead vocals on all or parts of three of them, "Midnight in Paris," "Closer to You," and "Ring of Love." In his lyrics, along with the romantic sentiments, Stills examined the failing U.S. economy on "Buyin' Time" and, with Dacus, lamented the military victims of Vietnam in "Soldier." Sales were disappointing, with a peak at number 31 in Billboard. In the wake of the album, Stills embarked on an abortive tour with Young that managed to produce an album, Long May You Run (September 1976), and then reunited with Crosby and Nash for the multi-platinum Crosby, Stills & Nash comeback album CSN (June 1977). He still owed one album to Columbia, however, and he fulfilled that commitment with Thoroughfare Gap (October 1978). By now, Dacus was out of the picture and, if the lyrics were any indication, Stills' personal life wasn't faring too well. He had always been interested in dance beats, particularly Latin rhythms, so it was no surprise that he jumped on the disco bandwagon with "You Can't Dance Alone," the leadoff track. The title song was an acoustic ballad that was thoughtful but somewhat ambiguous. Elsewhere, Stills expressed his romantic disappointment in self-written songs like "What's the Game" as well as a cover of the Allman Brothers Band's "Midnight Rider" and a version of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" with rewritten lyrics. On the whole, the album was not one of his better efforts, and it struggled to reach the Top 100. Stills, Illegal Stills, and Thoroughfare Gap have had a spotty presence on CD, and fans will welcome this reissue. They may want to skip John Tobler's digressive liner notes, which are littered with factual errors and say next to nothing about these particular albums. ~ William Ruhlmann

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