Stephen Stills – Bill Halverson’s Engineering Masterpiece?

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

When all the elements are working together as they do here, the music on Steve Stills’ first album is postively AMAZING. Until I hear something better, I’m going to have to call this BILL HALVERSON‘s Engineering Masterpiece.* Yes, on the best copies it’s that good.

*We have now heard something even better, an album from earlier in the same year in fact, Deja Vu.

We’ve had an unbelievably hard time finding copies that lived up to our expectations, prompting much of my crew to argue that it just could not be done. We didn’t find copies that sounded just as good as I remembered — no, we found copies that went BEYOND what I had hoped for.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Both sides are rich and full-bodied, as well as transparent, with lots of separation between the parts. Most copies tend to be murky, thick, and veiled. The overall sound here is airy, open, and spacious, with TONS of ambience.

Check out the sound of the big organ solo on Love The One You’re With — you can really hear the air moving through the instrument. That’s what a Hot Stamper is all about!

And that’s not all. Listen for the rosiny texture to the strings, the warmth of the midrange, and the breath in the vocals. These are all signs of a very hot stamper.

The bottom end is well-defined and has substantial weight to it, something you won’t hear on most copies. They sure don’t record music that sounds like this anymore, and even if they did I doubt they could press a record that sounds this good.

We’ll keep trying to find the unbelievably rare Hot Deja Vu’s, but in the meantime all you CSN fans should consider taking a chance on one of our Stephen Stills Hot Stampers. We guarantee you’ll love it (or your money back of course).

We Can’t Get Enough Of This Stuff

Some of the most sought after, and difficult to find, records in the world are those by the various groupings of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. This album is no exception. It’s Stills’ masterpiece, a record I’ve been playing since I was in high school, and the sound on the LPs I bought over the years has been pretty consistently disappointing. It’s refreshing to actually find a copy like this that lets you hear the album the way you remember it.

There’s a very good chance — bordering on a certainty — that the copy you played back then was no doubt just as poor sounding, but you REMEMBER it sounding good. That, more than anything else, is why we audiophiles keep chasing after so many classic albums from our younger days. We’re trying to find the record that can give us the sonic satisfaction now that we achieved so easily then.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Love the One You’re With 
Do for the Others 
Church (Part of Someone) 
Old Times Good Times 
Go Back Home

Side Two

Sit Yourself Down 
To a Flame 
Black Queen 
Cherokee 
We Are Not Helpless

AMG Review

Listening to this album three decades on, it’s still a jaw-dropping experience, the musical equal to Crosby, Stills & Nash or Déjà Vu, and only a shade less important than either of them. The mix of folk, blues (acoustic and electric), hard rock, and gospel is seamless, and the musicianship and the singing are all so there, in your face, that it just burns your brain (in the nicest, most benevolent possible way) even 30 years later.