PSYCHEDELIA LOVES ( STEPHEN STILLS-MANASSAS)
Hold your horses, I know this isn’t a classic in the same way that ‘Born to Run’ is a classic, or ‘Music From Big Pink’ is a classic, but a load of waffle about how good ‘Rumours’ is actually perturbs my gut a little, so I thought it might be invigorating to drift from the footpath and illuminate another hero from the golden age.
Stephen Stills is a name you’ll know from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame, or perhaps even Buffalo Springfield. But after Déjà vu left ‘Everybody I Love Young’ ringing in your lughole with those bittersweet harmonies, Stills went off to stretch his legs for a bit, away from the ever narcissistic, but ultimately great, David Crosby.
Stills joined forces with Chris Hillman of The Byrds, session drummer Dallas Taylor (who played on the previous CSN records) and a load of other hip cats, including Bill Wyman of The Stones and Gerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. The final product was a 21-track epic, named after this gallant new outfit, Manassas.
This 1972 release was split into four subtitles: The Raven, The Wilderness, Consider and Rock & Roll is Here to Stay.
The Raven is the electrified rock side, a particular laid-back LA West Coast Laurel Canyon vibe with an intersect of high-voltage guitar playing. The Wilderness, as it suggests, stokes the dying embers of country music’s lone star fire, strumming alongside the likes of Merle and Willie. Consider mirrors the type of work Stills was producing with Springfield, or pretty darn close to it. The Rock & Roll side is basically the opening electrics dragged even further through an influential mix that descends from metallic, raw slide to sensory coastal rock, beautifully blissed out amongst the hillsides of this rocker’s estranged community.
‘Song of Love’, ‘Anyway’ and ‘How Far’ epitomise Stills as a creative innovator of the early 70’s, his stoned-out melodies complemented by an upbringing of down-south blues, and his voice is as good as it’s ever been. ‘Colorado’ and ‘Jesus Gave Love Away For Free’ are lonely snow-capped ballads, and moving onto righteous howlers like ‘The Love Gangster’ truly solidifies this remarkable record as paramount to the progression of a musician who has always deserved more. If nothing else, it’s the manifestation of creative aspiration.