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on 29 September 2009
Like another 1972 record Rolling Stones' "Exile On Main Stret" the original Manassas album didn't recieve much praise from the critics. And like "Exile.." it has later achieved the status of a classic. In fact quite a few will see it as the pinnacle of Stephen Stills' (solo)career.

Here we have a great collecion of outtakes from the sessions for the two Manassas albums. Featuring this stellar band with Chris Hillman, Al Perkins. Joe Lala, Paul Harris and the rhythm section from CSNY and "Four Way Street": Dallas Taylor and Calvin 'Fuzzy' Samuels. As well as guestspots by Bonnie Rait and Joe Walsh.

A few of the songs like "Word Game" were later released on Stills' second solo album, many of the others would certainly have been welcome addition on any rockalbum.

The usual magic Stephen Stills blend of blues, rock, country, latin this release is a great start to Rhino's opening of the Stills' archives. As every track was intended for release the quality of the production is top notch. Essential for Stills (and CSN) fans.
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on 18 November 2009
I enjoy this kind of release. It's a bit like going to a car boot sale: it's going to be a mixed bag, but you may just unearth a gem. However, I do find the hyperbole which so often accompanies such offerings hard to understand. To suggest, for example, that 'Manassas Pieces' might have served as a worthy follow up to the debut double album is stretching credibility somewhat. Mind you, it was 'Hyperbolium' who wrote that, so I like the sense of humour. Similar lavish praise has been heaped on the (to my ears) horrendous 'CSN Demos' and Stills' 'Man Alive'. Are you sure?

The accompanying notes inform us that: "... Stills often summoned the players on a whim, regardless of time. All he had to do was walk down the hallway and open their bedroom doors." Just imagine being woken at 3am and being asked to play a song like 'Do You Remember the Americans'.

If there is a hidden gem here, it is 'Witching Hour', the opening song. Like 'Down the Road', which opened with the excellent 'Isn't It About Time', the early promise is not sustained. Inferior versions of songs which appear elsewhere are of interest, but never really fully engage ('Sugar Babe', 'Lies', 'Fit To Be Tied' - an early version of 'Shuffle Just As Bad' - 'Word Game', 'Do You Remember The Americans') and unfamiliar recordings tend to indicate that the Manassas quality control department was fully operational. Stills is no fool. About 'Like A Fox' he says: "One of those things that was half done, and then a bunch of people showed up, and so I had to write a chorus, like, now." You can really hear this. 'My Love Is A Gentle Thing' is a great Stills song, but it is not a Manassas recording at all. It is included 'for creative reasons'. Yes, I think I understand.

I can't summon up any enthusiasm for 'Panhandle Rag', 'Uncle Pen' or 'Dim lights, Thick Smoke' and it all ends with a fairly anonymous solo blues 'I Am My Brother'.

So yes, it's good to hear some of this stuff long after the fact, and maybe it's worth taking some of the accompanying fanfare with a liberal pinch of salt.
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on 27 February 2012
I have been a devoted fan of Stephen Stills for around 40 years, infact I believe him (Stephen Stills) to be the second greatest guitarist of all time. Stephen Stills never fails to delight me and make any album purchase a memorable event. What is my fascination with Stephen Stills? Well Stephen Stills is an original, and a person whom always strives for total excellence in his work - he I belives always has his listeners in the fore-front of his mind. Concerning this DVD, my only criticism is it is rather short, as soon as you are getting firmly into it, it finished leaving me wishing for more. But the performances by Manassas are from a German TV programme in the 1970s -
Stephen Stills and Manassas are incredible - their musicianship is truly wonderful, and the singing to nothing but perfect. I am afraid I am totally biased where Stephen Stills and Manassas are concerned. if they did sing the phone book I'd be happy. Stephen Stills and Manassas are magnificent, true artists, and true geniuses - after all Manassas besides just Stephen Stills has world-class musicians within it. I throughly recommend this CD, for being worth every penny, and for sheer brilliance - buy it and be transpotered back to the wonderful 1970s - where people made real music. Love it 200 out of 10!
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on 18 June 2013
Stephen Stills is one of the most intersting and skillful musicians of the past fourty plus years. Having had some experience of success with Buffaloe Springfield, only to see that dashed away by rifts in the band just befor they peaked, he went on to mega stardom with Crosby, Stills & Nash where he contributed many great of their most popular songs. He then began a solo carear, with the classic Stills (Love The One You`re With/Church etc.) album and Stills 2 (Bluebird Revisited/Change Partners etc.) , and then back on the road with his Country Rock baand Manassas.
Unfortunately, there were only two Manassas albums, hinting at more great things to come, but alas no. It has taken thirty years for these excerpts of out takes and live cuts to be issued, but boy was it worth the wait! This band is tight! There is a good selection of album tracks and some stuff never heard before, which show off his various guitar styles and vocals, some in Spanish, that make you wish that there had been more live recordings made by these musicians.
If you have followed Stills career wishing he had realised more of his potential, this album will show what could have been at his peak. There is only one weak song "Like a Fox" rejected by CSN, but all the others are a joy. SOund quality is good, often very good.
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on 26 September 2009
My guess is that most Stephen Stills fans are huge Manassas fans too. The band was, after all, probably the best vehicle for his talent in the early 70's and arguably he has never bettered 'that' double album. How could he? So 'Pieces' will be rightly welcomed and it is fantastic that Rhino are bringing some of this unreleased material out. But for me, this simply wets the appetite for something more substantial.

Read the other reviews and you'll soon have a sense of what you're getting here. Alternative takes (Lies, Sugar Babe, Do You Remember The Americans?), a pretty naff band version of 'Word Game', the controversial 'White Nigger' - here titled 'High and Dry' and some lovely bluegrass tracks with Byron Berline featured. Don't be fooled by 'Tan Sola Y Triste' because its a prototype 'Pensiamento' - surely Stephen's greatest Latin song?. In his notes, Stills mentions that these are some songs they were silly enough to leave out of the original releases. I'm not sure I'd go with that. 'Like a Fox' and 'My Love is a Gentle Thing' are OK, but I don't think they can hold a candle to anything on the debut - or 'Down The Road' for that matter.

The one real bonus for me is 'I Am My Brother'. Stills, acoustic blues guitar, vocals - nothing else added. We're in 'Bluesman', 'Black Queen' and the original 'Word Game' territory here. Perfect!

Of course you should buy this album but it won't tell you anything you didn't already know about Manassas era Stephen Stills or that wonderful band. Its a lovely packaging job too. Great photos and notes and it's how this sort of release should be presented (bravo Rhino). But if you're a Manassas obsessive (a group to which I most certainly belong), it might leave you slightly unsatisfied. Somewhere in the vaults (and not necessarily on a collectors pc) is a great Manassas live show. For a band that on its night was - by all accounts incredible - wouldn't it be great to have a live concert release. Go on Rhino, bring on the main course.
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on 3 October 2010
I've liked Manassas and that period of Stills ever since I bought Down The Road on spec. from a SoHo secondhand shop in about 1979 whilst at London University. I soon added the eponymous album. When I heard that there was more Manassas available after all these years I had to buy it. I wasn't disappointed. These tracks sit well alongside their main output and generated renewed interest in the band.
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on 11 October 2009
If you,like me, think everything Stephen Stills does is great ,then this is for you.From blues to country rock to bluegrass to pop,this'll take you on a ride to please......hope they find some more unreleased stuff
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on 13 December 2015
Well worth getting, the music is mainly superb, especially Witching Hour. There is an error in the booklet. The backing vocals on 'Like a Fox' are not Bonnie Raitt, but are clearly those of Bonnie Bramlett.
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on 4 November 2014
The group's swan song. Some good tracks. An aficionado's album!
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on 6 March 2016
The first half is great. The second half is scraping the barrel
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