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August 17, 1972 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1972-08-17

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Page Twelve

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Thursday, August 17, 197:

A .

Thick as Ijanassas

By IRIS BELL
Each echelon of music carries
its own rules. In rock and roll,
as in jazz, to become too popular
is not necessarily, prestige-wise,
an unadulterated blessing, for
then the group loses status with
those in a small but exclusive
group of musicians and listeners
who appreciate excellence for it-
self, not its popularity.
Stephen Stills/Manassas, w h o
appeared Monday night at Pine
Knob Music Theatre in Clark-
ston, is a group with all its mem-
hers playing to their highest
(not their slickest) abilities. The
group came into being through
the natural flow of good musi-
cians toward each other. They
are all from other respected (by
those who know) groups - Joe
Lala (Congas, Timbales/Percus-
sion) from Blues Image and,
more immediately, Pacific Gas
& Electric Company; Chris Hill-
man (guitar, mandolin, vocals)
of the Flying Burrito Brothers
and The Byrds before that; Al
Perkins of The Flying Burritos
and earlier Shiloh and a Texas
group called Foxx; Paul Harris
(keyboards) who played with
Judy Collins, on all of Stills' al-
bums and in a group- called Ohio
Knox with Dallas Taylor and
Peter Galway; Dallas Taylor
(drums) who has been with Stills
,since the days of Crosby/Stills/
Nash in 1969 when Dallas was
only nineteen, and before that
played with John Sebastian at
the age of eighteen; and Fuzzy
Samuels who is irrepressibly
h a p p y and moving constantly
with the ecstasy of the bass licks
he plays, who came from An-
tigua and was first heard on
recordings,. I believe, on Stills'
first solo album.
This concert Monday night was
superbly paced, beginning with
Manassas roaring "Rock and
Roll Woman," a totally different
feel from the original Springfield
recording; then one from The
Byrds, "Rock and Roll Star;"
"Go Back Home,' which was
magnificent from the long intro-
duction by Stills, with all pos-
sible shadings of the guitar voice
of which he is capable, to the
extended leads. Stills is, as
always, musically impeccable,
controlling his voice in other

ways now, turning questionable
notes to better ones, springing
from there to the next idea, with
nothing to stop the flow. His time
sense is so fine, so incredible,
that one cannot help but react
with grunts, animal grunts and
sheer gut-response. During 'a
long segment in which Stills
played and sang alone, pla'ing
all his guitars and finally oajo
(on which he says he plays blues
guitar because he doesnt know
how to play banjo) the greater
part of the audience becamo
restless. Those few who had
waited for that part of the pro-
gram because of its subtlety
were amply rewarded. Stills
even happily demonstrated his
new ability to play bottleneck
guitar (with a borrowed "steel"
from someone in the audience)
-and he did that as he does
everything else - superbly. The
monitor system squealed regular-
ly throughout the whole concert,
spoiling many of the more subtle
moments and taking the edge off
many more. That should not
happen.
I question whether there should
not be a general move in the in-
dustry toward less volume; why
should performers need to wear
ear valves to protect their hear-
ing-when hearing is gone, you
end with retired (deaf) rock
stars.
It was almost impossible to
hear Fuzzy Samuels' bass; the
sound mix left a great deal to be
desired in many areas; Paul
Harris' keyboard work was large-
ly lost too.
Chris Hillman, a fine talent,
labored with a tired, hoarse
voice; there was some tension,
some shifting of plans (all neat-
ly covered, very adroit) to spare
his throat. Even so, very little
of the excitement got lost and at
the last part of the concert with
the playing of the whole first
side of the album, the audience
was brought to that ultimate
peak-of course.
Dallas Taylor is both powerful
and subtle; he says little, is as
obsessed as Stills by the music
and the musicians. His control
of his instrument and of the
whole Manassas time scene was
a little blunted by the insistent
Latin overlay which at times

made one have to strain to hear
Dallas' drums through the other
percussion. However, his visual
appeal is dynamite - like a
choreographed "pas de seul" for
drums.
Al Perkins is as unlike the
accepted image of "rock and
roll crazies" as he can be. He
talked freely and well, about re-
ligion (he's a Christian), about
his instrument, about his cycle
of interest first in Hawaiian
steel guitar from age nine to
high school age (including an
example or two of how fast a
kid grows up in this business)
then to rock and roll guitar (the
Ventures were his idols then)
and then to pedal steel because
of a bandleader he respected
who wanted to incorporate coun-
try music into his book. Finally
he explained to me how he and
everybody else became part of
Stephen Stills/Manassas. All too
few musicians know pedal steel;
Al Perkins knows. He is a part
of the latest Stones album (Torn
and Frayed) and played on Rita
Coolidge's new album. As a mat-
ter of fact, he will be one of the
constants in the field, furthering
the country trend,
Stills overextends himself in
concert, especially vocally, I
hope he moderates sufficiently to
forestall any irreversible damage
to his body or his art. He is one
of the most stupendously-endow-
ed musicians alive. He feels he
must do it all. Will his magnifi-
cent obsession burn him out?
The question is, is it worth it to
Stills to hold back for any rea-
son?

Photographs
by
Denny Gainer

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