"Stephen Stills" SOLO LP 1st UK PRESSING 1970 w/JMI HENDRIX & ERIC CLAPTON MINT
June 28, 2013
July 05, 2013
Click to enlarge
Listen to the sound of the night bird singing,
I wonder who he calls?
My fingers hurt so bad, it's got me grinning,
And I wonder, can I do it all?
Hit a stretch of rapids in the rushing, raging river,
Looking out for boulders and falls.
A woman she watches from the top of the canyon,
Hoping we don't drown us all.
Help me now, I've got to slow down,
Hear my singing call.
Hurt myself bad on a run through the desert,
Threw a shoe and took a bad fall,
Long for the peace that the ancient's bring me.
Murmour of the lowlands shut my jaw,
Help me now, I've got to slow down,
Hear my singing call.
Everyone knows there's a price for the asking,
Some people buy themselves a doll,
Help me, sweet Jesus,
I'm weary from the journey.
I need to tell my brothers what I saw,
Help me now, I've got to slow down,
Hear my singing call.
STEPHEN STILLS: "Stephen Stills" DEBUT SOLO LP, VERY FIRST UK PRESSING, 12th DECEMBER 1970.
RED & MAROON ATLANTIC LABEL: 2401 004
MAITRIX: 2401004 A // 2 // 1 (USA mastering logo) 1 1 1 / 2401004 B // 2 // 2 1 1 1
A strange double pair of digit ending digits, similar to a first pressing of "Stephen Stills" I sold just after last Christmas.
They are unlike any other Polydor configuration in the 60's, 70's or the 80's, this is the very first pressing and they can
only represent mistakes . For Side 1, 'A // 2' was initially stamped, then corrected to 'A // 1' but not re'stamping the 'A' ,
by simply adding the second '1'.
Then to balance out Side 2, the extra and otherwise meaningless second '2' was added to match Side 1's extra digit, that
repeated symbol '//' was never part of a Polydor pressing, either an inverted triangle or a '*' was used for separating any
further digits. That is my theory/logical explanaition, arrived at due to the repeated '//' symbol still connected to 'B.'
RARE VERY FIRST UK ISSUE ONLY,'E J Day' PRINTED COVER, FULLY LAMINATED ON THE FRONT AND THE BACK,
INCLUDING COVERING ALL THE EDGES AND THE SPINE.
Any comments I now make about the cover, are the same as I have consistently said for first pressing of "Stephen Stills" that
had a few careful plays or unplayed records inside first issue fully laminated covers, Nr.Mint/Mint is very rare but I find them.
As found in the early 70's era, the spine is shaped with pointed endings, there is no real wear to detail, this is more about
how a heavyweight record's impression and very tightly wrapped laminate react together over the last 43 years. Only this time
the cover was folded and glued with the spine virtually on the back cover, where only the blues printed titles can be read, my
picture of the titles reflects the difficulty of getting a photo, the covers were never assembled exactly the same. As usual
there are some related tiny laminate edge lines, but amazingly no ageing to the white background, so all here was naturally
formed from the first moment the record was placed inside. Only these very first made covers were fully laminated, most with
the first issue/original '2401 004' catalogue number, had matt covers that soon became grubby and stained, even with careful
use. The front, spine and back have a white background and the lamination formed a protective barrier against all the ravages
of time and the atmosphere over those last four+ decades. Hardly any ageing says it all anyway, the only wear is to the spine
tip or the bottom left corner and even that is more like standing pressure, the other three corners are in exceptional condition.
Just a few ruffles on the bottom on the other main standing position, the bottom edge, this cover looks absolutely stunning and a
the whiteness is in keeping with the front artwork, the front cover scene is Stephen playing a guitar outdoors with thick, heavy
snow surrounding him. The back is in the same superb condition, where the lamination finished on the bottom rim the fixing glue
has yellowed but that happened on most laminate ending positions, white backgrounds just happen to show the glue's colour.
This outstanding condition "Stephen Stills" cover was kept with such loving care and all I have described are natural events
over all those decades.
A BEAUTIFUL COVER, THEY ARE RARE, SO ARE THE GENUINE FIRST PRESSING ON THE RED & MAROON ATLANTIC
LABEL. BEING THIS LATE IN 1970, 'KINNEY RECORDS' WERE WAITING IN THE WINGS TO TAKE OVER ATLANTIC
AND, THEY INTRODUCED A DIFFERENT CATALOGUE NUMBER WITH A 'K' PRE-FIX AND RE-DESIGNED THE LABELS
TO ORANGE AND GREEN IN 1971. I RARELY FINE TUNE A COVER'S GRADING BUT THIS TIME IT IS IMPORTANT
BECAUSE THERE CANNOT BE A FIRST ISSUE THIS CLOSE TO HOW IT FIRST APPEARED 43 YEARS AGO.
THE COVER IS IN A MINIMUM OF EXCELLENT+++ / NEAR MINT CONDITION.
ORIGINAL POLYDOR INNER SLEEVE, USED ONCE, ACTUAL AGEING IS REASONABLY MINIMAL AND THE GLUE SECURING
THE POLY-LINING TO THE MATT ABSORBANT PAPER, HAD SOAKED THROUGH. THAT IS NATURALLY ENOUGH ON THE
OUTSIDE EDGES AND EITHER SIDE OF THE TOP OPENING, COMMON ENOUGH TO POLYDOR LINED INNER SLEEVES.
AN UNAVOIDABLE RECORD IMPRESSION WITH A FEW RELATED CREASES, BUT USED ONCE THERE ARE NO TEARS
OR SPLITS AND WHEN I SAY 'ORIGINAL', YOU COULD NOT GET ANY CLOSER TO THE RELEASE OF THE ALBUM!
CODE DATED ON THE FRONT BOTTOM RIGHT RIM IN BLUE INK;
'1170' = NOVEMBER 1970.'
ONLY A FEW WEEKS BEFORE THE 12th DECEMBER RELEASE, A VERY HEALTHY EXCELLENT+++ CONDITION.
THE LABELS ARE IMMACULATE, THE WHITE CENTRE IS.... WHITE, A FAINT SPINDLE ALIGNMENT TRACE SHOWS THE
RECORD WAS ONLY PLAYED ONCE PER INDIVIDUAL SIDE. MADE WITH SUCH CARE, THERE ARE NO MARKS OF ANY
KIND ON THE ENTIRE RECORD, I COULD NOT FIND EVEN ANY HANDLING TRACES AND IF THERE ARE, THEY
ARE NEAR INVISIBLE TO INVISIBLE, A STUNNING LOOKING AND SOUNDING VERY FIRST PRESSING.
THE RECORD IS IN MINT CONDITION.
"Love the One You're With"
"Do For The Others"
"Church (Part Of Someone)
"Old Times Good Times"
"Go Back Home"
"Sit Yourself Down"
"To A Flame"
"We Are Not Helpless"
Stephen Stills - vocals, guitars, bass, piano, organ, steel drum & percussion
Jimi Hendrix - lead guitar on "Old Times Good Times"
Eric Clapton - lead guitar on "Go Back Home"
Booker T. Jones - organ & vocals
Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels - bass
Ringo Starr (listed as "Richie") - drums
Dallas Taylor - drums
Conrad Isedor - drums
Johnny Barbata - drums
Jeff Whittaker - congas
Sidney George - flute & alto sax on "Cherokee"
David Crosby - vocals
Graham Nash - vocals
John Sebastian - vocals
Cass Elliott - vocals
Rita Coolidge - vocals
Priscilla Jones - vocals
Claudia Lanier - vocals
Liza Strike - vocals
Judith Powell - vocals
Larry Steele - vocals
Tony Wilson - vocals
Sherlie Matthews - chorus vocals
Horns arranged by Stephen Stills
Strings arranged by Stephen Stills & Arif Mardin
All Songs Written By Stephen Stills.
Recorded In May 1970, At Island Studios, London.
Sound Engineer - Andy Johns.
Produced By Bill Halverson.
I have opened previous descriptions of this album with this 'quiz' before, I feel this LP is so unique, I have to this time around.
If ever you want to confound someone reasonably into music with a question concerning two of the most famous and legendary
guitarists of all time, try this;
"Name the only album Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton both appeared on that was not a compilation of various artists, individually
playing the lead guitar on consecutive tracks?"
The ever volatile and combustible relationship between Stephen Stills and Neil Young, was one of the main reasons for Crosby,
Stills, Nash & Young to have broken up in August 1970. During that summer their last tour was full of other problems for Stills,
because in that same August, Stephen Stills was arrested on drugs charges after being found crawling along a San Diego motel
corridor in a completely incoherent state. Earlier before the tour in the May of 1970, Stephen Stills recorded this very first solo
album in London at Island's famous studio, something was definitely in the air during 1970 because the just mentioned Clapton
also recorded his first ever solo album and when Eric did, Stephen Stills was there to return the compliment on, "Eric Clapton."
Stills respect in the music business pre-dated CSN&Y and not just because of Buffalo Springfield, the renowned 1968 CBS album,
"Super Session" would not have been issued if not for Stills stepping in to help Al Kooper finish it after Mike Bloomfield left
him high and dry. As a lead blues and psychedelic guitarist, Stills was up there with the finest of the era, a highly recommended
album but rare as a first UK pressing, it was very influential in the late 1960's and May 1970 was still 'touching' that decade.
Stephen's standing or musical status from his time with both CSN&Y and Buffalo Springfield had commanded the fullest respect
among the era's other cream of musicians, for Stephen's first solo LP, they almost queued up to play on it with him. Producing a
roll call of backing musicians and friends beyond belief, or at least entering into realms of sheer fantasy, Jimi Hendrix was not
often given to playing on other artist's recording sessions, but for Stephen, Jimi played absolutely stunning lead guitar on the
superb "Old Times, Good Times." Also making massive contributions on this extraordinary album, created a cast of even more
wonders; the mentioned Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr in the same May as the Beatles disbanded appeared on two tracks, plus John
Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful, David Crosby, Graham Nash, 'Mama' Cass Elliot, Rita Coolidge, Booker T and so many others.
The London sessions started in Island's Studios, were completed at Wally Heider's Studio and the Record Plant in Los Angeles.
Stephen Stills composition's were inspired and outstanding enough to record without needing all those above names, but with
them,"Stephen Stills" became one of the most remarkable albums ever made. Historically events affected the LP being issued,
because the tragic and sad premature death of the great Jimi Hendrix in September 1970, that alone brought a respectful delay
in the release of of the LP. 'Track Records' agreed to allow "Old Times, Good Times" to be included and Stephen Stills added to
the bottom of the LP credits; "Dedicated To James Marshall Hendrix"
Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton on the same album became a unique event in rock's history, without any question, the two greatest
guitarists of all time. A common misconception is these UK first issues sold in large numbers in December,1970, the majority of
pressings came slightly later in the 1970's decade, after the Atlantic label changed their label colours from red and maroon into
orange and green, especially because that happened very quickly in a massive operation. "Stephen Stills" only briefly appeared
at No.30 in the UK charts, then after just the minimal period for a record to register, only seven days /one week later it bombed
straight out of the charts. To his credit Stephen Stills did not seek publicity about Jimi Hendrix being on the album, in fact in
1970, only a few even knew he was playing guitar on "Stephen Stills", I have found the same is still be true today. Of course if
Stephen had sought the extra publicity or wanted to promote his album, in the wake of Jimi's death this would have been a huge
selling album, integrity principals and honour are a very rare commodity in the music buisness. Stephen's modestly kept his own
contribution to Jimi's final recording sessions quiet, he played a piano on "My Friend" for "The Cry Of Love", Jimi's final album
was released after his death in September 1970, becoming the last issued on the Track label in 1971. Jimi Hendrix's death was
treated with the deepest respect in the early 1970's when Polydor took over the catalogue, 43 years later now and the exploitative
vultures are still hovering and swooping to this very day.
So a rare album as a UK first pressing, the maitrix end digits are only showing a single digit rise on one side, in spite of such
gloomy weather, I did get pictures of the 'A1/B2' maitrixes. Basically if a UK record has 60's red and maroon labels, it has to
be a first pressing by definition alone. The cover lost full lamination during the actual pre-release with all those the delays,
you can find both, the second unlaminated covers also had the red and maroon label's catalogue number. First pressing records
and very first printed covers are usually in an appalling condition, but this really beautiful Mint- record has absolutely stunning
sound, a deeply glossy shine and not a mark to be seen or heard! As the sound quality is so immaculate, including the acoustic
"Black Queen", I will try to curb my enthusiasm for a much loved album containing and those rather special guests, and keep the
Polydor's pressings were superb, Side 1 has near silent run-in grooves, wonderful, so now the opening track fades-up without
even any static. Then in the fantastic first true stereo mix, the banked sound of glorious acoustic guitars ring out, a memorable
and emotional intro to Stills' magnificent "Love The One You're With." Re-issues sound shallow and flat in comparison to this
full bloodied and extremely powerful sound, that impacts as I expect and demand. The audio clarity is just staggering, during
the chorus I can distinctively pick out David Crosby and Graham Nash's individual voices. Such great sentiments in these lyrics
make them as profoundly true today as they were when Stephen Stills wrote them, Andy Johns was responsible for so many of
Island's greatest records, he was the sound engineer in London and this creative stereo panning was so typical of Andy Johns, I
know his work well from the many Island artist's records I have and love. "Love The One You're With" was released as a single
and like this album, that is incorrectly regarded as being a huge hit, it deserved to be but in the UK it only reached No.37 when
released later in January, 1971. Billy Preston suggested, "Love The One You're With" as the song's title to Stephen Stills and
his magic did all the rest, the track is now finishing and the gap is completely silent. Very gently played acoustic guitars and
light percussion form the intro for "Do For The Others," heard superbly clean and clear of any surface sound, a beautiful melody
is performed folk style with a bass and low percussion. A real solo effort as well, Stephen plays the percussion, the bass guitar
and the acoustic guitars, his vocals here are very special indeed. What a fantastic pressing, a very exposed track to noise, has
nothing except the purest and ultra sharp edged music, some albums were pressed with in-built surface sound and even crackles,
I will identify them but I am just as keen to state when perfect pressings were available, this was such an album and I will not
compromise over that. Although I'm hearing a once played Mint record, I still listen intently to the music and even more so, to
the record itself for any background irritants however faint. Natural static on vinyl accepted of course, I cannot and will not
ever say a record does not sound like...a record! For the superb clarity, this is an astonishing standard for the audio, so I
can drop saying how smooth and problem free all of the gaps are though, for a superb record it is ridiculous to include them and
should I encounter anything I will instantly say so. All intro's and the outro's perform as immaculately as I'm now hearing for
the incredible "Church (Part of Someone)." This is the soulful/r&b side of Stills' music, first heard in his Buffalo Springfield
days, Stills plays an organ and a piano and there is only a bass guitar on this emotional and very moving almost gospel style
song and performance. After Stephen sings the verses, your senses are taken over by an almighty explosion of stunning and
overpowering female gospel harmonies, supplied by the quartet, "The Chorus." A perfect name they certainly live up to, just
breathtaking vocals as they all combine with Stephen's impassioned lead voice, on a superb production that includes strings,
the sound quality is sheer perfection, perfect vinyl really is something else! This album influenced so many bands in the early
1970's, the Rolling Stones' "Sticky Fingers" and "Exile" had very similar songs and productions. After those magical and just
wonderful tracks, I'm still going to say, now for two simply astounding tracks, first up is "Old Times, Good Times," a fantastic
inspired r&b Stills composition with Stills playing an outstanding organ, the lead guitar is taken care of by none other than the
genius of Jimi Hendrix. Jimi plays deeply melodic, sensitive and beautiful guitar, very much in the the same 1970 vein of his
tracks like "Angel." I have no wish to detract from the genius of Stephen Stills, for "Old Times, Good Times," he is in the most
incredible, inspired form on the organ and lead vocals, but when Jimi Hendrix picked up on the feel of this amazing track, no
individual on the planet, then or now, has ever played the guitar like him. Jimi's contributions on "Old Times, Good Times" is
simply awesome! So too is the sound quality and the stereo mix, this is the 1960's first made true stereo panning with a total
separation of individual parts, so you have Jimi's guitar panned from the left channel. In this audio perfection, the resulting
effect is being able hear his guitar as an individual sound. Of course perfectly balanced with the rest of the track, this is no
different to hearing any of those amazing 1960's Track stereo records. Just having Jimi in the studio had an inspiring effect on
everyone, on the subject of that musical genius of a guitarist, how can you possibly follow on from such a once in a lifetime and
magical moment on a record? Maybe invite Eric Clapton along to play on a blues track with a license to improvise as he felt it,
does sound like pure fantasy after just hearing Jimi! For me to type that does sound like a figment of a very vivid imagination,
but that is exactly how it happens on this amazing record! Do see my pictures for a close-up of the musician credits for a pair
of unbelievable tracks! "Go Back Home" is a pure blues Stills composition, he could have handled the lead himself but with an
inspired Clapton in the studio, Stephen plays more basic electric guitar and tremendous keyboards. Like Jimi Hendrix, Clapton
instantly formed a musical chemistry to settle in and play with Stills, like they had been together for years. Stephen was and
is a mean guitarist himself, he produces a quiet blues run as the intro and that lone guitar can be enjoyed without any form of
irritations or surface noise, the bass booms out and the drums are crisp & ultra sharp. Stills' vocals are just immersed into the
purest blues, Eric Clapton responds as only Eric could, by playing out of his skin! You now have the dream scenario, their two
electric guitars form an extremely powerful sound indeed and gives a reminder of those Stills and Neil Young guitar duels from
Buffalo Springfield and more recently, in C.S.N. & Young, except, when Clapton was on fire like this in 1970, sparks really flew!
Eric's lengthy extended solo is just remarkable, a joy to hear for a Cream fanatic like myself, 'fire in his belly,' is a perfect
way to describe Clapton's unbelievable response to Stills edging and prompting him towards producing something very special.
This is almost dream like to be again describing Eric unleashing scorching, red hot blues, alongside him, such inspiration came
from Stephen Stills, just after Jimi Hendrix's track! Music from the heavens and at 7 minutes long, the track grows wings and
for the last few minutes they really do soar & fly, the audio definition is simply staggering, this is one amazing sounding very
first pressing! Even when I deliberately restrict descriptive text, I am still listening intently to the sound reproduction with
critical ears, any natural low level, submerged in the background static, was as trivial and minimal as vinyl possibly gets. I do
not cite the age of a record as an excuse for crackles and clicks etc. I am genuinely trying to take in how long ago it was when
I first bought "Stephen Stills," 1970 was a very long time ago and this record plays like it was just bought when first released.
Clapton's solo is up there with anything he ever played and that positively included in 1966 - 1968 with Cream, should this have
gone unnoticed, prepare yourself to be blown clean away by his inspired genius.
Side 2 has near silent run-in grooves and any natural static does not register with me as anything that does not belong there, well,
does one split second of static from the outer rim? I think not and I am going to name the run-in grooves on this side as 'silent,'
opening up with a superb mid-tempo intro to one of Stills very finest compositions, the r&b/blues/gospel of "Sit Yourself Down."
The intro is ultra clean and what an incredible song this is, after Stills' lead vocals for the verses, the chorus is sung by the most
fantastic harmonised voices of David Crosby, Graham Nash, Cass Elliot, John Sebastian, Priscilla Jones, Rita Coolidge & Claudier
Lenier. Hard to take it in, but all that awesome vocal talent was gathered around the mikes and they produced such power, a first
pressing's loud mastering explains why I normally cannot sell this album, distortion becomes horrific on this celebration of vocal
harmonies. As a songwriter alone, Stephen Stills proved his ability back in 1966, on Buffalo Springfield's era defining anthem,
"For What It's Worth." Opening up this album with "Love The One You're With," it was a similar statement of brotherly love, this
was the first complete album to contain only his songs in four years. "To A Flame" is another stunning composition, this time the
friends leave Stephen to play the piano, plus all guitars behind his vocals, 'Ritchie' played the drums, otherwise the track was
a solo effort. How many debut solo albums had a 'just left the Beatles' drummer? Orchestrated arrangements on here instantly
remind me of some of Neil Young's,"Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" 1969 album from the previous year, the beautiful melody
is set to a slow love ballad, but this is much more than just sentimentalism, in exactly the same way Neil Young never descended
too far down that direction, this works superbly. The stereo mix has plenty to keep your ears occupied, fantastic panning effects
are heard in pristine audio perfection. For this level of ultra clean sound quality I should not worry about the next gap, but it
is the most important one on the whole album. I can only say 'silent', even with my amp's very high volume, even static is not
worthy of inclusion, a wonderfully silent gap before "Black Queen" is extremely rare and great to hear. Quite amazingly though,
the intro to the purely acoustic "Black Queen" is also without any static and for the entire length of this completely exposed
to noise, solo folk/blues performance. Performed as really intensive acoustic delta blues, just a vocal and a single guitar, the
formula for the most terrible crackles vinyl can generate, I will emphasise again how perfectly clear this five minute long track
is, nothing at all to break the magical spell cast. The song was was written during the previous year, 1969, the lyrics are about
a pack of playing cards, until now this had only been performed in concert with first C.S. & Nash, and then by C.S.N. and Young.
Stills played it solo on stage, preserved on several of my treasured bootlegs! This is such a riveting performance from Stephen
Stills, I'm approaching the end of the track and there is still not even the slightest surface sound/static, the actual music is so
razor sharp. The acoustic guitar has pin-point sound, you hear Stills' fingers moving on the frets and strings and on reflection
my Mint-grading is correct for only the one plays and audio perfection. A 'minus' is just a token gesture that means nothing, it was this perfect for my earlier play, first impression do matter, but for unplayed vinyl and barely played like this, I always
urge patience until after several plays. The sound positively improves following the initial pressing that leave microscopic
'pips' of vinyl the stylus loosens and dislodges. The final guitar notes quietly finish into a completely silent gap, this track
has a special musician on the organ, Volt/Stax's Booker T Jones, the leader of the 'MG's' who played on most of the great Otis
Redding records. Mr.'Green Onions' himself is in fitting company with an equally inspired Stills during "Cherokee", a staggering
track with the alto sax and flute played by Sidney George, a blues/jazz feel, but Stills is in Buffalo Springfield territory with
such stunning psychedelic guitar playing. An odd blend? Far from it, this is late 60's music at it's musical best, the sheer power
of the record is heard to it's extremest power with everything in crystal clear sound. Without a gap, Stills' acoustic guitar plays
the intro for the magnificent,"We Are Not Helpless," a song giving an answer to Neil Young's recent "Helpless" from the earlier
1970, C.S.N. & Young "Dejá Vu" LP, in the lyrics. The brilliant genius of Stills' composition suddenly explodes into an amazing
full scale production, with the massed bank of vocal backing's of; Booker T, 'Chorus,' David Crosby, Graham Nash, 'Mama' Cass
Elliot, John Sebastian, Priscilla Jones, Rita Coolidge and Claudier Lenier. The effect with all those voices joined in harmony is
simply awesome, a deeply emotional song with the greatest passion and commitment is boosted up to the very greatest heights
and a real joy to hear again. The vocal backing has stunning audio definition, the volume is as overpowering as the instruments.
Outstanding audio is the one and only way to enjoy and appreciate the staggering music on an album, I believe is still waiting to
be discovered by many who are unaware it is a masterpiece, performed and sung by some of the great artists of all time.
R & M RECORDS.
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