Just knowing that the 15 songs here, compiled from two Bay-Area appearances in late August of 1971, were selected by Stephen Stills from his own archive should be enough to get anyone excited. Naturally- and reflective of those performances- this live collection shows each and all of Stills’ myriad and accomplished sides as a songwriter and musician: acoustic-strumming balladeer; big band leader; soulful, socially conscious rocker; collaborator and partner. It’s an amazing amount to fit into one concert, but Stills does it.

Along with a rock-steady core band that includes Stills’ longtime drummer, Dallas Taylor, and bassist Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels, he also invites the iconic Memphis Horns along for the party inside the rather intimate, 3500-seat Berkeley Community Theater. Given the size of the venue, the recording’s fidelity is exceptional- an up-close experience, captured over five decades ago, and cleaned-up quite well with a glimmering mix. In addition, there is the set, itself, launching with a frenetic and engaged “Love The One You’re With,” as Stills immediately signals an elevated energy level he sustains throughout.

That isn’t to say the he can’t get mellow, as well, as Stills does on “Do For The Others,” or on the cowboy song lope of “Jesus Gave Love Away For Free.” He welcomes onstage his good buddy, David Crosby, for two- “You Don’t Have To Cry” and “The Lee Shore”- that instantaneously (and bitter sweetly) remind of the beauty of their exquisitely interwoven voices, and why with Graham Nash (and later Neil Young) their combo set the world figuratively aflame. 

It’s Stills’ emboldened voice that carries a resonant message, too, on a solo take of “Word Game” and as he switches over to piano for the gospel-tinged “Sugar Babe” and a rousing pairing of “49 Bye-Byes” and “For What It’s Worth.” Southern blues drips off the Florida native for “Black Queen” and “Know You’ve Got To Run,” and hints at the soul brigade that follows when the full band and The Memphis Horns stamp their marks on “Bluebird Revisited,” and a jammed-out “Cherokee” that stretches nearly ten minutes. Even after a final “Ecology Song,” it feels like the whole thing is just getting started.

In song choices, sequence, and performances, this time-capsule disc from Stephen Stills’ first solo tour is an absolute gem. It’s somewhat hard to fathom that it took as long to surface as it did. One can only hope that Stills has, perhaps, a few more treasures stowed away in the archive that are ready for public display.