Manassas was formed in the fall of 1971, following Stills' concert tour to support his album Stephen Stills 2 (1971). While Stephen Stills 2 was Stills’ second solo album, it was his first completed following the acrimonious 1970 break up of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY), and was not critically well-received. After a chance meeting with Flying Burrito Brothers singer/multi-instrumentalist Chris Hillman in Cleveland, where Stills’ tour schedule crossed paths with that of the Burritos – a band that, by late 1971, had undergone multiple personnel changes and was in financial trouble – Stills saw an opportunity to change his artistic direction. He subsequently contacted Hillman, asking him, along with Burritos’ guitarist Al Perkins and fiddler Byron Berline, to join him in Miami at Criteria Studios to jam. Stills also invited several members of his touring band – drummer Dallas Taylor, bassist Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels, keyboardist Paul Harris and vocalist/percussionist Joe Lala – to play at the session.
The musicians quickly gelled in the studio, and within several weeks had recorded enough material at Criteria to fill a double-LP album release. The band was capable of a wide musical range, with a repertoire including blues, folk, country, latin, and rock songs. Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, a friend of both Hillman and Stills who visited Criteria during the sessions, was an early fan of the band, at one point expressing an interest in joining. The band christened itself Manassas after Stills, who had an interest in American Civil War history, orchestrated a photo shoot for them in Manassas, Virginia, the site of the First and Second Battles of Bull Run (1861 and 1862, respectively).
Down The Road is the second and last album by Stephen Stills' band Manassas. It was released in 1973. The album was not very well received. Rolling Stone was especially critical, saying "it would be sad to think the people involved put this record out not because of business pressures but because they were proud of it." It only made it to #26 on the Billboard album charts and its single, "Isn't It About Time", only made it to #56 on the Billboard singles charts.
by DAVE CONNOLLY (progrography.com)
The second Manassas record sounded a lot like Stephen Stills 2 with better playing behind it, which wasn’t good enough for critics, most of whom panned Down The Road as second rate. It’s really not a bad record, a good half of which can hold its own with the material on the first Manassas record. Highlights include “Isn’t It About Time” (which features some blistering slide work), Chris Hillman’s pretty “So Many Times,” a pair of winning south-of-the-border songs and the closing “Rollin’ My Stone.” Unfortunately, about half of the album could be accurately described as filler, including an apparently unconscious rewrite of The Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend The Night Together” as “City Junkies.”
The undoing of Manassas wasn’t an uncertain future, but the pull of the past. Stills and Hillman would soon reunite with their former bands (CSN, The Byrds), and Manassas would be remembered as a felicitous, ephemeral alignment like Derek and the Dominos. Both bands deserved an encore, Manassas got theirs, only to find that half of their audience had left in the interim. The fault doesn’t lie with the musicians but the material, which spends too much time in the middle of the road.
A More Favourable Review by FRAN COOMBS (AllMusic)
A hugely underrated album, 'Down The Road' is every bit as good as Manassas' debut double record. The same mix of folk, country and Latin is featured throughout.
|Hillman and Stills|
I think if Stephen Stills hadn't lost interest in the group/went back with CSNY in 1973 and '74, and if Chris Hillman developed/was allowed a more satisfying songwriting/musical role for himself (which the quality alone deserves), AND if keeping the collection of guys like Al Perkins, Joe Lala, Dallas Taylor, all together wasn't difficult... Manassas could have continued longer. But it's pretty cool they did something together anyhow. A really fantastic period of time for all of these artists.
This post consists of FLACs ripped from my 50year old vinyl, which was purchased from Batman Records back in the late 70's and is in pretty good condition for its age. Full album artwork and label scans are included.
01. Isn't It About Time 3:02
02. Lies [Hillman] 2:55
03. Pensamiento [Stills-Nelson Escoto] 2:36
04. So Many Times [Hillman-Stills] 3:30
05. Business On The Street 2:55
06. Do You Remember The Americans 2:05
07. Down The Road 3:16
08. City Junkies 2:50
09. Guaguanco De Vero 2:51
10. Rollin' My Stone [Stills-Samuels] 4:50
Dallas Taylor - drums
Chris Hillman - guitar, bass, mandolin, vocals
Al Perkins - guitar, pedal steel guitar, banjo
Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuel - bass, vocals
Paul Harris - piano
Joe Walsh - slide guitar
Bobby Whitlock - keyboards
Sydney George - flute
Jerry Aiello - organ
Charlie Grimes - guitar
Guille Garcia - percussion
Lachy Espinol - percussion
Pat Arnold - vocals
Manassas Link (182Mb)