Stills live and in super form.
Stephen Stills out on tour with his outpouring of music from Buffalo Springfield, CSN, CSNY, his first two solo albums and the Manassas debut to call on for a setlist. Something to dream of hearing – and this new album makes reality of that dream with previously unreleased live performances recorded over two nights at the Berkeley Community Theater in Berkeley, CA, on August 20 and 21, 1971. It was a big band tour with Fuzzy Samuels, Joe Lala and Dallas Taylor along as well as Paul Harris on keyboards and Stephen Fromholz on guitar and harmony vocals. The tour was nicknamed ‘The Memphis Horns Tour‘ which gives a hint as to who else was sharing the stage. And there were guest spots for David Crosby giving a tantalising hint of what a Stills-Crosby band might have sounded like should they have chosen to carry on into the studio. Sadly a permutation that never came to fruition.
The songs are familiar to anyone who has a nodding acquaintance with Stills’ output in these years – and they’re delivered by a Stills in strong voice and giving a demonstration of mastery of guitar. All shades of Stills’ songwriting are covered – the big hit single ‘Love the One You’re With‘ of course but also political songs like the fast blues of ‘Word Game.’ There’s a super sweet and soulful ‘Bluebird Revisited‘ and a powerful medley of ‘49 Bye-Byes / For What It’s Worth‘ with the latter taken at speed.
The two songs with Crosby – ‘You Don’t Have to Cry‘ and ‘Lee Shore‘ are, of course, moving in the light of Crosby’s recent passing – and ‘The Lee Shore‘ was always one of the finest tunes to come out of the Crosby Stills Nash & Young oeuvre which hadn’t quite fit the mood for ‘Deja Vu‘ but had been played live as documented on ‘4-Way Street.‘ Crosby’s lead vocal on this recording is sweet and perfect.
Naturally, this is an archive recording – there is some tape hiss remaining – but it just adds to the feel of what was a pretty intimate pair of concerts for Stills at this time, with Berkley being just a 3,500 seater. A great set of excellent performance – highly listenable to. We won’t be hearing the likes of this again.
I think Stills legacy deserves better than this.