Stephen Stills solo career - could it have been salvaged?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Autotune Sucks, May 27, 2018.

  1. Autotune Sucks

    Autotune Sucks Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Little Rock, AR
    Stephen Stills is one of the most egregious examples of an artist with so much raw talent and promise who ended up with a second-rate solo career filled with questionable musical directions and songwriting quality control. I would say somewhere in the mid-70's (post-Manassas) he began to fall off from his previous level of quality and that accelerated like a freight train into the late 70's. Do you think that he could have made a deliberate move in this period to shore up his solo career and bring it back to respectability of was is doomed at the time because of substance abuse and a loss of ambition?
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  2. DTK

    DTK Forum Resident

    If he could have ditched the coke, probably yes.
    But his career was not a failure after 1975; Stills was in control of two successful CSN records in 1977 and 1982.
    I think the decline in his solo output was first heard on Thoroughfare Gap, with covers and ill-advised disco tunes.
  3. Sax-son

    Sax-son Forum Resident

    Three Rivers, CA
    As a lifelong fan of Stephen Stills, my only criticism of him is that you never really knew where he stood. I remember him bagging on his success with certain songs from the Buffalo Springfield. As an artist, you have to stand behind your work(right or wrong) or your fan base won't either. He seemed like a very angry person in the early seventies. I don't know what was going on in his head. Maybe the trappings of fame and fortune? The biggest hurdle that he faces now, is that he seems to have lost his voice. I saw him at a CSN concert around 15 years ago and his singing voice was "rough". He also now talks with a bit of a slur as if his teeth don't fit him well. He is still a great guitar player though!

    I still really liked his catalog up through Thoroughfare Gap. After that I lost interest. I think Stills music style served him well up until the 1980's, but didn't translate well with the newer generations in my opinion.
  4. JoeF.

    JoeF. Forum Resident

    New Jersey, USA
    Lots of talent and ability. The debut Crosby, Still & Nash holds up well and it was mostly his effort. The best tunes on CSN are his too. Manassas is a classic. Drugs, ego, ambitious when he should have been simpler and more direct; erratic.
    He should have been a major solo act at least through the '70's.....
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  5. DTK

    DTK Forum Resident

    Good point about Stills' stylistic variation. He could do pop, rock,blues, cajun, Cuban, soul...probably one reason why he didn't make it very big as a solo performer; the diversity must have confused listeners.
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  6. Tom Daniels

    Tom Daniels Forum Resident

    He was mostly great through 77. The rest of his career had been spotty. Could it have been salvaged? Sure. Rehab.
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  7. Chrome_Head

    Chrome_Head Forum Resident

    Los Angeles, CA.
    I'm not sure he ever delivered on the promise of his best work with Buffalo Springfield, though several CSN&Y numbers of his come very close.

    His post-1975 stuff I've heard seems to be stuck in some weird, posturing, single guy at the disco kind of sensibility ("Fair Game", "Make Love To You").

    Picked up a SS Live album I had never heard or seen before about a month ago. His playing and singing mostly smokes on it, but he runs through the songs as if he's tossing them off. It does seem like he was burning out in the latter half of the 70's.
  8. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Forum Resident

    3 Buffalo Springfield albums
    3 CS&N albums
    2 Manassas albums
    2 solo albums
    1 demos album
    + various tracks off his collaborative and solo 70's albums.

    Not too bad if you ask me. But yes, he could have done more sans the drugs and ego wars.
  9. Kiss73

    Kiss73 Forum Resident


    Stills has never made a bad album.......period.

    Sure there were vocal issues which seems to have did Dylan.

    Is he as prolific....nope.

    Is he still making great music...absolutely!!!....and now that he had done the two The Rides albums and the Judy Collins album, hopefully he will do a solo album.
  10. Chrome_Head

    Chrome_Head Forum Resident

    Los Angeles, CA.
    It isn't bad, and perhaps on par with what Crosby & Nash produced outside the main group around the same time, but Young's work eclipses it all (though that's the subject of another thread).
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  11. DTK

    DTK Forum Resident

    That's quite funny :biglaugh:.
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  12. misteranderson

    misteranderson Forum Resident

    englewood, nj
    For non-CSN(Y) Stills, I only have Just Roll Tape, the self-titled solo debut, Right By You (thanks to the guest spots from Jimmy Page), and Manassas' first. I know there's much more, but honestly don't know what the best of the rest is.

    Stephen's a monster talent. I saw him and Judy Collins last December, and will be seeing them again next month. I'm not sure what's up with his singing, but I think a large part of it is his hearing. Hard to sing when you can't hear. At the gig, he fiddled with his in-ear monitors (or were they hearing aids?) quite a bit, and was really happy when he got the chance to turn his guitar up and let it rip.
  13. masterbucket

    masterbucket Forum Resident

    Georgia US
    He should have kept Manassas rolling...….it would have been his biggest success after CSNY
  14. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Forum Resident

    I think he did great up to Thoroughfare Gap and I like Manassas 1 and 2. Nobody can stay at the top of their game forever. CSN also has a respectable catalog. That’s a pretty solid career. He seems to be deaf now but he can still play guitar like demon.
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  15. Stan94

    Stan94 Forum Resident

    Paris, France
    Probably too much coke. Too many parties. His wife was also probably too pretty.
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  16. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL, US
    I saw him with Judy Collins last year. Odd mix, she is semiclassical and he is a ragged rocker. He did a solo version of "Thoroughfare Gap" that was solid.
  17. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly...

    Get the Stills LP from 1975, damn good album:righton:. Stephen Stills 2 isn't bad, either- it's along the same lines as the solo debut but also points in the direction he would take with Manassas.
    "Probably"?!:laugh: When yer going round telling anybody who would listen about yer supposed adventures in Vietnam and the CIA -even though you were busy gigging with the Springfield at the time- yeah, I'd say you've done waaaaaay too much coke, among other illegal substances...
  18. john lennonist

    john lennonist There ONCE was a NOTE, PURE and EASY...

    A very difficult character (I've spent some time with him) + ego/insecurity issues + massive coke intake does not a consistently good and long career make.

    Sad, because in the 60's and very early 70's he had tremendous talent -- incredible musician, excellent song writer, excellent producer and very good singer.

  19. CrombyMouse

    CrombyMouse Forum Resident

    Strongly disagree. My favorite Stills solo albums except the debut are "Illegal Stills" and "Thoroughfare Gap". I know that occasional disco arrangements stuff sounds a bit cheesy, but his range as a composer and performer is spectacular.
  20. CrombyMouse

    CrombyMouse Forum Resident

    Can you provide us with some details?
  21. john lennonist

    john lennonist There ONCE was a NOTE, PURE and EASY...

    I'd rather not... but his reputation preceded him, and he did not disappoint. :shake:

  22. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Sheboygan, WI
    He seems like he's mellowed and is a lot more self effacing these days. In recent interviews he actually seems considerate of the interviewer. And how contentious can you be if you're touring with... Judy Collins?
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  23. Olompali

    Olompali Forum Resident

    A big, fat, all instrumental, acoustic guitar release.
    Put a shine on his chops.
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  24. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    If it was all as good as the first album, definitely. But the second was a real letdown and he them made the odd move of bringing in Donnie Dacus as a near-equal collaborator.
    MoonPool likes this.
  25. Vinyl Socks

    Vinyl Socks Forum Resident

    Niles, Ohio
    Stills had some of his tongue removed via surgery for cancer. Though it has affected his singing and speaking, it's not something you can attribute to drugs or booze.
    mtvgeneration likes this.

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