After recording his second solo album, Stills formed Manassas in 1971 with a talented group of musicians that included Chris Hillman, a former member of the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers. Manassas released two albums, ... more »1972's eponymous double-album debut and the 1973 follow-up, Down The Road. MANASSAS - PIECES features alternate versions of two songs from Down The Road: 'Do You Remember The Americans' and 'Lies' (featuring guitarist Joe Walsh). The collection also includes the legendary group's unreleased performances of 'Sugar Babe' and 'Word Game,' a pair of songs Stills recorded in 1971 for his second solo album. The remaining tracks include 'Like A Fox,' a song recorded with blues guitarist Bonnie Raitt on background vocals and the Latin-tinged 'Tan Sola Y Triste' (Spanish for 'So Alone and Sad').« less
After recording his second solo album, Stills formed Manassas in 1971 with a talented group of musicians that included Chris Hillman, a former member of the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers. Manassas released two albums, 1972's eponymous double-album debut and the 1973 follow-up, Down The Road. MANASSAS - PIECES features alternate versions of two songs from Down The Road: 'Do You Remember The Americans' and 'Lies' (featuring guitarist Joe Walsh). The collection also includes the legendary group's unreleased performances of 'Sugar Babe' and 'Word Game,' a pair of songs Stills recorded in 1971 for his second solo album. The remaining tracks include 'Like A Fox,' a song recorded with blues guitarist Bonnie Raitt on background vocals and the Latin-tinged 'Tan Sola Y Triste' (Spanish for 'So Alone and Sad').
Christopher Henrici | Washington, DC United States | 09/22/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Manassas engineers Ron and Howard Albert went through the master reels they had and compiled "Pieces"- mostly worthy tracks that were not quite album ready. The first few songs live up to what we might expect from musicians of this caliber. Manassas was more of a real band than say CSNY which was more like 4 seperate personalities working within a "band" context. They sound nothing like CSNY. Manassas' sound has more in common with Joe walsh or early Santana than CSNY. Actually Joe Walsh plays on a tune here. As the disc goes along it loses some momentum and we wind up with a handfull of 2 minute bluegrass work outs. The disc has 15 tracks but cues up at just 43 minutes, so some of the tracks really are just pieces, songs not fully fleshed out or jam snippets. The sound on the disc is good, fans who had the first Lp know it had a nice earthy sound to it. I'd like to see some live material come out- which is reported to be in the works along with some studio tracks with Hendrix (who played on Stills solo album). There are a few things here that make it desirable to collectors. I'm always on the fence about these type of releases, do they dilute an artists work, or add something meaningful to it?- I'd say this disc does both, but is better quality than usually found on archival or "deluxe" issues."
o dubhthaigh | north rustico, pei, canada | 09/24/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Stills should have been the American Clapton. He certainly had no fewer vices and yet his muse was a fragile thing that would come and go as he engaged in different projects or dissolute directions. His records, then, can be very hit or miss, and by the 90's were largely less than impressive. And that's the tragedy. He had talent to spare and Manassas at its peak was a force to be reckoned with. After a very strong debut, he followed with an overproduced second album, a protean live document and then the brilliant Manassas double CD. Unfortunately, that was followed by Down The Road, as low a point in Stills' canon as there is. PIECES represents sessions engaged between the first record and DTR, and it's a genuine pity that this was not the second album. All of Stills' strengths are on display and none of his weakenesses. DTR followed these sessions and somewhere along the way the songs fell flat and the musicianship got unfocused and Stills' voice sounded like he had spent the weekend yelling at people. It was a mess. This, while not quite Stills 1 or the first Manassas, is a joy start to finish. There are songs you have not heard before, songs that would find life with the Flying Burritos, songs that recapitulated earlier statements from Just Roll Tape and Stills 2, and what results is a well-disciplined band hitting on all its cylinders. This band must have been a powerhouse live, and God willing, Stills has some tape worth releasing that documents just how good both the front line and the rhythm section were in concert.
Obviously, in the overly competitive framework of CSNY, this band was a gauntlet thrown at Crazy Horse and the CN back up bands of the time. Crazy Horse was a barely competent gaggle of misfits who could somehow rise above their abilities under the direction of Young and Briggs. CN's group of crack session players had to deal with Crosby's relentless indulgences of a different crack, and over a very short time could no longer rescue him from free fall. Manassas in some ways would not be able to save Stills from himself either, but while they were on, they were mighty. And how can you lose with Chris Hillman, Al Perkins, Joe Lala, Calvin Samuels, et al?
As I mentioned, Stills' career would have erratic highs (STILLS, Illegal Stills, Stills Alone, CSN 2) and lows (everything else), but just when you'd be ready to write him off, along comes MAN ALIVE, his very best CD. He readily admits that he isn't sure if he still has it, but perhaps by reviewing his CV he'll find he can rejuvenate his strengths. As a cancer survivor and dedicated Democratic campaigner, Stills has something to say that we all could learn from. While the next CSN CD is purported to be a Richard Rubin covers set, I'd rather have Stills head to the woodshed."
Manassas was a GREAT Band
Richard A. Hayes | Charleston SC | 09/25/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very good album. Should have been the basis for the second Manassas album. They were such a great live band, and the two disc first album is among the best albums of the 1970s. I highly recommend this for anyone, not just Stills/Manassas fans. Even though some of the cuts are just "pieces", the production quality is really very good (nothing like the "Down the Road" Manassas album, which sounds muffled and the vocals are horrible sounding). This showcases how eclectic Manassas was, whether rock, bluegrass or blues. Some real gems in this collection. I cannot wait until the live album comes out."
Great vault finds from Stephen Stills' post-CSN/Y band
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 10/05/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As CSN/Y's initial rush of productivity and fame led to a split in the early `70s, Stephen Stills followed up his two self-titled solo albums with a pair of albums backed by Manassas. The group, formed with Chris Hillman and others in the Stills orbit, recorded a large number of tracks across a range of rock, country, blues, bluegrass, folk and salsa styles. Their self-titled 1972 debut was a 21-track double-LP nominally divided into four sections, but cross-pollinating the styles throughout. Their followup, 1973's Down the Road, despite its single-LP concision, had neither the spark nor focus of the freshman effort.
Rhino's new collection offers fifteen vault selections, drawn from the original sessions, that include alternate takes, reworked solo tunes, cover songs, and live tracks. As on the group's debut, the styles vary from straight bluegrass to tightly harmonized country, electric folk and rock, and a taste of salsa. The soulful rock of "Like a Fox" (with backing vocal by Bonnie Raitt) is interlaced with pedal steel, Chris Hillman's "Lies" is layered with organ and slide guitar, the electric folk of "My Love is a Gentle Thing" is filled out with CSN-styled harmonies, and Stills' "Word Game" is sped along by fast shuffling drums.
The salsa instrumental "Tan Sola y Triste" and the blue soul original "Fit to Be Tied" close the first half of the album, and give way to earthier country sounds that open with Chris Hillman's twangy country-rock "Love and Satisfy." A pair of acoustic bluegrass covers includes Leon McAuliffe's "Panhandle Rag" and Bill Monroe's "Uncle Pen," and while Stills' "Do You Remember the Americans" is sung high and tight, Joe Maphis' "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud Loud Music" is harmonized mournfully.
Morgan Broman | Alexandria, VA United States | 09/30/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Manassas was the great American band that never quite was. The seven players were all at the top of their game in the early 1970s and - under Steve Stills' leadership - made some great music that took off from country-rock, but was a lot more. "Pieces" picks up the scraps from the cutting room floor and lets us enjoy the creative process and some mighty fine picking. Although this was Stills' band, co-leader Chris Hillman plays a vital role in the Manassas sound. He also contributes two of the strongest songs on "Pieces" - "Lies" (punchier and better than the version on "Down the Road") and "Love and Satisfy" (much better than the slick version on the "Souther, Hillman, Furay Band" LP). Hillman also brought a true country-roots sensibility to Manassas, just as he had in both the early (Gram Parsons-led) and later (Hillman-Rick Roberts-led) Flying Burrito Brothers. Stills admired the Burritos and was also keen on learning to play bluegrass music. Bringing in Hillman as a co-pilot was a great idea. Unfortunately, taking such a large band on the road in those days was costly and the in-demand talents of Al Perkins, Joe Lala, Dallas Taylor, Hillman, et al were being pulled in other directions. It could not last. The double "Manassas" LP was Stills' truly last great moment. Several cuts here are up to the overall quality of that debut (one of my all-time favorites) - The opener, "Witching Hour," is a great Stills song that Hillman did a nice job with on his debut LP. "Sugar Babe" also gets a solid reading and (to my ears) is superior to the version on Stills's Second LP. My main complaint is that some of the cuts are just snippets - five songs run less than 2 minutes each. Just when a bluesy version of "Word Game" is getting going...it ends. "Tan Sola Y Triste" sounds like early Santana and is just starting to cook...when it fades out. Oh well, it's still nice to have this material. Country rock was at its' creative peak in 1972 and 1973 when these stalwarts of the genre were recording together. I'll play this one a lot until the Stephen Stills box set comes out."