PC 34148 Illegal Stills
Produced by Stephen Stills and Don Gehman
Released on May 1976
US CHART POSITION #30 . . . UK CHART POSITION #54
Find it at GEMM
PC 34148 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

I found this a bitter brew the first few times around, but with suitably shrunk expectations the music on Illegal Stills now goes down smooth. With sweet harmonies from Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (pure salt, that pair), the songs invite comparison to CS&N, pretty and pungent and bittersweet. Although the two singles didn’t chart, both “Buyin’ Time” (which chronicles the malaise since synonymous with the Carter administration) and a cover of Neil Young’s “The Loner” are as much as you could expect from mid-career Stills. In fact, there are actually few missteps, though perhaps the singer might not mumble his way through French (“Midnight In Paris”) and Spanish (“No Me Niegas”) next time. However, Stephen Stills was fast becoming an anachronism; punk was on the horizon, and this soft rock seems light years removed from disco, let alone The Sex Pistols and The Clash. Illegal Stills isn’t so far from the music of Elton John, tuneful and thoughtful and politely colorful. Favoring keyboards over guitars in many spots and bringing percussion into the mix alongside the bass and drums, songs like “Ring of Love” and “Different Tongues” could well have come from any number of Elton’s mid-‘70s albums (as filler, mind you). What’s missing is Stills’ affection for the blues, here relegated to one track, the light “Stateline Blues.” Although a remarkably talented guitarist/organist, Stills invokes little of his musical prowess this time, content to yield part of the spotlight to Donnie Dacus, who cowrites much of the material and even takes the vocal lead on “Closer To You.” Some may see in this relinquishment a sign that Stills’ store of inspiration was running low, but if so Dacus picks up the slack nicely. No harm done to quaff Illegal Stills in your pursuit of that old CS&N buzz; it won’t make you go blind, though you may need to squint to effect the comparison. In the end, it all depends on whether you see the glass as half full or half empty.

PC 34148 back cover
PC 34148 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. BUYIN' TIME    (Stephen Stills/Donnie Dacus)    3:35
  2. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS    (Donnie Dacus/V. Sanson)    3:59
  3. DIFFERENT TONGUES    (Stephen Stills/Donnie Dacus)    3:09
  4. SOLDIER    (Stephen Stills/Donnie Dacus)    2:59
  5. THE LONER    (Neil Young)    4:15
  6. STATELINE BLUES    (Stephen Stills)    1:59
  7. CLOSER TO YOU    (Donnie Dacus/Stephen Stills/W. Schwebke)    3:34
  8. NO ME NIEGAS    (Stephen Stills)    3:31
  9. RING OF LOVE    (Donnie Dacus)    4:03
  10. CIRCLIN'    (Stephen Stills/Kenny Passarelli)    4:20

CREDITS

STEPHEN STILLS -- vocals, bass, keyboards, guitars
JERRY AIELLO -- keyboards
DONNIE DACUS -- guitars, vocals
HOWARD KAYLAN -- vocals
JOE LALA -- percussion
GEORGE PERRY -- bass
GEORGE TERRY -- guitars
JOE VITALE -- drums
MARK VOLMAN -- vocals
TUBBY ZEIGLER -- drums
Ron and Howie Albert -- engineers
Don Gehman -- engineer, mixing
Alex Sadkin -- mixing
John Berg -- cover concept and design
Gerard Huerta -- artwork and design

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US May 1976 Columbia LP PC 34148 may contain lyric sleeve
UK/NET May 1976 CBS LP S81330 lyric insert
SAF 1976 CBS LP ASF 1883 laminated cover
US August 28, 1990 Columbia CD CK 34148  

 

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