Stephen Stills is an unyielding force of nature.
The amount of music pouring out of this man could’ve fueled a half-dozen bands. Following the June 1971 release of his second solo album, Stephen Stills 2, he announced his first solo tour designed to showcase all aspects of the ever-growing artist. Fans who were lucky enough to catch his historic debut trek, dubbed “The Memphis Horns Tour,” were treated to the balladeer, the raving troubadour, the acoustic bluesman, the soul driver, and by far the most passionate music maker offering his goods across the better auditoriums and arenas that summer.
This previously unissued live album, with performances hand-picked by Stills from his personal archives, was recorded on August 20 and 21, 1971 at The Berkeley Community Theater. This 3,500-seat venue made this one of the most unique and intimate stops on the tour that included his iconic concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden. In many ways, these Northern California shows in Berkeley sound as if Stills is leaving it all on the stage during a hometown gig.
In addition to The Memphis Horns, Stills is backed by a loyal cast of friends, including his usual steady rhythm section—drummer Dallas Taylor and bassist Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels—along with keyboardist Paul Harris, guitarist Steve Fromholz, and percussionist Joe Lala. Guesting on both nights of these recordings was David Crosby, singing on his own nautical classic “The Lee Shore,” and the Stills-penned “You Don’t Have To Cry,” a Crosby, Stills & Nash favorite.
The music on these grooves—timeless and era-defining performances— “Word Game,” “Love The One You’re With,” “Sugar Babe,” “Cherokee,” among others, hasn’t aged a day since they were captured on tape. This album, rather than being an artifact from a bygone era, sparkles and stimulates. It cajoles you into thinking, feeling and—most importantly—moving. This is music that’s been unearthed because it’s simply too good not to be blasting out of cars and exploding from apartment windows and onto the streets.
Stephen Stills Live At Berkeley 1971 is a cornucopia of priceless sound—and all of it bears the distinct and loving fingerprint of Stephen Stills.
—Howie Edelson, New York City, December 2022