Stephen Stills had graduated to solo stature after central roles in two influential but internally combustible bands, Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, when he opted to form the short-lived Manassas in ... more »the early '70s. The band was a sensible compromise--a platform that provided Stills with a versatile ensemble of instrumental peers posing far less threat to their leader's ego. He had wisely chosen one of California rock's most dependably tasteful musicians, former Byrd and Flying Burrito Brothers cofounder Chris Hillman, as his de facto lieutenant, providing a solid vocal foil and a capable songwriter. Stills designed a lineup that could move convincingly from country-rock to swaying, percussive grooves with a Latin thrust. This 40-minute live studio performance, taped without an audience for a German broadcast, captures the essence of Manassas's debut album Down the Road, confirming the strength of Stills's choices as well as the ultimately slight value of the songs written for and with that band. At its best, Manassas sketches a warm Stills-Hillman vocal stamp that's pleasing if still generic, and the instrumental interplay is likewise confident if only fleetingly inspired. The production injects some now dated, even corny visuals, including solarized psychedelic shots used as backdrops. But the original mono sound quality is detailed and well-mixed, confirming the superior equipment and more sympathetic ears of the German crew. This is a satisfying document for aficionados of California's laid-back '70s wing. --Sam Sutherland« less
Stratman | Germantown, Maryland United States | 01/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The only negative things I can say about this DVD are: 1) It's not long enough at only 40 minutes, and 2) It doesn't feature any acoustic material. BTW, the Amazon review is wholly inaccuate in stating that this material is from Manassas "debut" album, Down The Road. Down The Road was actually Manassas' second album, and this DVD doesn't feature any material from it. All of the material here, save one extended jam, is from Mansassas double-LP "Stephen Stills and Manassas".Stills is, as usual, amazing on guitar; he's one of the most unheralded electric players of his era. The performances here are faithful to the recorded versions. The band is tight and there's none of the sloppiness that mars so many live recordings. You can't go wrong with this DVD."
running_man | Chesterfield Twp., MI | 09/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is Stephen Stills at his literal zenith. After his 1968 and 1970 releases with CSN and CSNY, Stills launched a series of solo efforts. His first solo album is widely recognized as a rock classic, and while its successor, Stephen Stills 2, gained less acclaim, it offered strong compositions in songs such as 'Know You Got To Run' and 'Sugar Babe'. In 1972 Stills pulled together Manassas, with drummer Dallas Taylor (Woodstock Festival and 'Deja Vu'), bassist Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels ('Four Way Street'), and Paul Harris ('Stephen Stills 2') being Still's veteran bandmates, and produced the opus of his recording career. The band's output, however, maxed out at only 3 discs, and this German television broadcast represents the only visual record of the band available. In fact, the only other professionally produced, finished material to be had is a radio broadcast from Amsterdam, Holland in 1973.Fortunately, the band is being seen in their genesis, promoting their debut double-LP. Their sound is clean and Stills appears pumped-up for this performance. The filming couldn't be much smarter for the early 1970's, aside from graphics displaying song titles, and day-glo, mirrored images of the band members for the background. These are minor distractions. The bulk of the video is pure performance footage. Despite the lack of an audience to spur them on, it doesn't appear the performances could be more inspired. Stills takes a deep breath before launching into the first number, the introspective 'Bound To Fall'. The band already appears warmed-up, with Paul Harris contributing a scintillating organ solo. 'Bound To Fall' is followed by a Stills/Chris Hillman composition, perhaps the loveliest ballad either man has ever recorded, 'It Doesn't Matter'. Joe Lala's provocative percussion on the production is penetrating and persuasive.The opening selections conclude with the entreating 'Hide It So Deep', a country-flavored number which Stills is especially adept at delivering. Al Perkins adds a sweet steel guitar to the rich mix. Each of the first three songs feature lingering harmonies from Stills and Hillman.We are then treated to the opening salvo from the double-LP 'Manassas', titled 'The Raven'. 'The Raven' is Stephen Stills' Abbey Road. As he segues from 'Song Of Love', to 'Rock and Roll Crazies', to 'Cuban Bluegrass', Stills puts on display the immutable appeal of the singer-songwriter. These are clearly songs written by Stephen Stills for Stephen Stills. We sense his roots, connect with his passions, and need only sit back to be absorbed by the appreciable talents he employs to convey his artistry. Particularly appealing are the pronounced vocal and guitar hitches of 'Rock and Roll Crazies' surrounding the lyric, "...catch yourself practicin' bein' shallow every day... yeah!" Beautiful. And 'Cuban Bluegrass' stirs Stills into a mambo only a lead guitarist could get away with.Stills finishes off this abbreviated version of 'The Raven' with the wrought-iron blues of 'Jet Set'. His delivery will cause you to wonder whether Stills was born for the blues, or the blues for Stephen Stills. From this point on in the video the cameraman is clearly mesmerized by Stills' masterful fretwork.While nearly all the material chosen for the video has a parallel studio version, 'Jet Set' does segue into a jam session, aptly titled 'Jam', which is not available on any other release. This segment runs five minutes and features a funky guitar from Stills, and nice instrumental runs from Lala and Harris. It's nice to have this unique instrumental, but when one considers that it replaces the usual conclusion to 'The Raven', the strutting and determined 'Anyway', and the engaging 'Both of Us'.... Appearing as an afterthought (something of a studio session encore), the video concludes with Stills donning his fourth electric guitar of the evening for a churning rendition of 'The Treasure', one of the closing numbers from their debut album. Stills smoking guitar and strong vocals are backed up with soaring harmonies by Hillman and Al Perkins, and a sharp-as-a-knife steel guitar solo from Perkins. Although the camera (enraptured with Stills' wah-wah backup) misses most of Perkins picking, it is still true icing on the cake.At the conclusion of the first number, Stills jokingly remarks to Hillman, "...take the first verse of the first one...", apparently suggesting this was the second take of 'Bound To Fall'. Fans of Manassas can only hope that more material from this rare and exciting performance remains in the vault, and will one day find the light of day. Indeed, if versions of songs such as 'So Begin the Task' and 'Colorado' lie in wait, justice demands they be awarded their freedom. It would be criminal to hold them back any longer."
A Rare Gem
Paul | New York, New York USA | 08/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1972 performance by Stephen Stills and Manassas is a must-have for his fans and for anyone else who apprecates brilliant rock/blues/country/latin guitar playing. Stephen Stills (who together with Neil Young in the Buffalo Springfield practically created the so-called folk-rock sound) has never gotten the appreciation he deserves as a musician, particularly from fans of Neil Young, the equally brilliant but not quite as good guitarist who has risen to greater popularily. The sound of this video has been beautifully remastered and is far superior to the bootleg of this show that's been floating around for years. Identical in all regards except it does not include the second take of Bound To Fall. Contrary to the Amazon review, all of these tracks emanate from their self-titled debut double-album. Mr. Stills, who has shined during the recently completed CSNY2K tour of North America, performs with a talented ensemble of musicians including the well-known Chris Hillman and Joe Lala among others. It was this band that Bill Wyman, allegedly, told Chris Hillman he would have left the Rolling Stones to join but apparently no one ever told Stephen until much later."
So much untapped potential...
meiringen | the Midwest | 03/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A wonderful video of a band that had tremendous potential, but never made it. All of the songs on this DVD are from the "Manassas" debut double album, contrary to what the content review says. Stills is at his best, and the band proves to be very versatile in many styles of music.It's too bad that this band never made it -- what you see on this DVD is just a fraction of what they were capable of. I saw them in concert, and it was an experience that I shall never forget. Even though the production values are somewhat dated (this was originally broadcast in 1972), the video does look good, and the sound is great.This DVD is a must have for fans of Stephen Stills."
CSNY Step Aside - Manassas Was The Better Band!
Alan Rockman | Upland, California | 01/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a big Chris Hillman fan. The man creates excellent music, and he has always enhanced every band he has been associated with, from the Hillman, through the Byrds and the Burritos to Chris & Herb and "Out of the Woodwork".I also like Stephen Stills. And Stephen Stills in 1971-72 was at the peak of his singing and guitar playing prowess in the band that he formed with Hillman, Manassas.Stills and Hillman - two powerhouse musicians with a great band.This video, performed "live" at the Beat Club in Bremen, Germany, brings out the best of Manassas, which also featured Al Perkins on Steel and assorted guitars, Joe Lala on percussion, and Paul Harris on keyboards, and a fine rhythm section of Fuzzy Samuel on bass and Dallas Taylor on drums.The recording featured songs recorded off the first Manassas album, one of the great albums of the seventies, and showed a full slice of what Manassas was all about...The Folk and Country of "Bound To Fall", "It Doesn't Matter", and "Hide It So Deep"; the Latino rhythms of "Cuban Bluegrass", and the powerful Blues-Rock of "Rock and Roll Crazies" and "The Treasure".Stills' lead vocals and Hillman's co-lead harmonies especially on "Bound To Fall" and "It Doesn't Matter" are simply wonderful. It doesn't get any better than this. In fact, Hillman tipped his hat to Stills by recording "4 + 20" on his recent "Running Wild".In fact, the only disappointment is that some of the songs Stills and Hillman made famous in the Byrds and the Springfield and later sang live in Manassas are not on this video - "Rock and Roll Women", "So You Want to Be A Rock and Roll Star," and "Hot Burrito #2", and yes, "4 + 20". The video strictly features songs off the first album.The band seemed at ease during the filming, and Stephen is clearly having fun joking with Chris, Al, and Joe.After viewing Manassas at the top of their form, one really wonders why Stills would ever want to go back to those other, funny and feuding guys.Oh yeah, a bit of trivia: Manassas was named by Stills after the famous Civil War Battles fought at Manassas - or more commonly known as Bull Run. That railroad station on the cover of the Manassas album is the same one where Stonewall Jackson pillaged the Union stores of Pope's army in August 1862."