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Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young - Déjà Vu

Review: 159
Date: 19 Dec 03


Rating: 5 Stars

Stephen Stills - Lead Guitars, Acoustic Guitars, Keyboards, and Vocals
Graham Nash - Vocals
Neil Young - Lead Guitars, Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar, and Vocals
David Crosby - Twelve String Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, and Vocals
Dallas Taylor – Drums
Greg Reeves - Bass

Tracks Listing:
Carry on
Teach Your Children
Almost Cut My Hair
Deja Vu
Our House
Country Girl
(a) Whiskey Boot Hill
(b) Down, Down, Down
(c) "Country Girl"
Everybody I Love You


After the release of their groundbreaking debut album simply titled "Crosby, Stills, & Nash'' in 1969, a successful appearance at Woodstock followed, which was the band's only second performance in public. Quite frightening as it was at the peak of the festival, so they performed in front of over 500, 000 people for which they added for the first time their great friend Neil Young (David Crosby's very words from the stage). Less than a year later, with Neil Young firmly ensconced in the ranks, they recorded ‘Déjà Vu’. When it was originally released it came in a lovely textured brown sleeve with golden inscriptions, and a black and white picture of the Band pasted on the cover. This made it look like a poster from an old wild west saloon, pure class and original, like the rest of this album.

So this was the first time Dave Crosby - ex The Byrds, Stephen Stills - ex Buffalo Springfield, Graham Nash - ex The Hollies, and Neil Young - ex Buffalo Springfield had recorded as a band (heralded as the first American super group, whereas in fact Graham Nash was English, and Neil Young Canadian) with the addition of Dallas Taylor on Drums, and Greg Reeves on Bass.

The album 'Deja Vu' was #1 in America on pre-sales alone, such was the expectations of their second album. It soon became #1 worldwide as the boys did not fail to deliver the expected goods. Throughout the album the harmonies are picture perfect, the guitar work exceptional, and the songwriting of the highest standard. The sound of the songs brings music screaming and shouting out of the hippie days of the sixties into the more realistic days of the early seventies, keeping the poppy feel of the sixties as it adds a hard edged guitar sound more identified with the seventies. Saying that, the album is timeless.

The album contains songs from each of the four artists that were to lay the template for the rest of their careers. Two songs from Stephen Stills, including opener 'Carry On', which shows all the facets of the collective musicians, beautiful harmonies, and spiraling guitars that bring the song to a dramatic climax after a beguiling vocal break in the middle section. 'Carry On' was often stretched out to over twenty minutes in the electric part of their live set. Stills later shows the other side of his songwriting ability with the mournful acoustic ballad '4+20'.

Graham Nash follows 'Carry On' with the perfect pop tune devoted to the next generation, 'Teach Your Children'. The long time friend Jerry Garcia from The Grateful Dead joins on steel guitar. As if there wasn't enough talent on this recording already. Nash also contributes 'Our House', written about his time living with Joni Mitchell. This song must have lightened many relationships over the years. One listen would melt even the hardest heart.

In contrast we are given the guitar/rock of Dave Crosby's 'Almost Cut My Hair'. 33 years later it is still the most requested song from Crosby, whether as a solo performer or as a collective with other members of these musicians. The lyrics were inspired after the tragic assassination of Robert Kennedy, and are typical of the time.

"Almost cut my hair, it happened just the other day,
It's getting longer every day, I couldn't say it was getting in my way,
But I didn't and I wonder why, I feel like letting my freak flag fly,
It must be because I had the Flu for Christmas,
That it increases my paranoia,
Like looking in your mirror and seeing a police car."

Crosby also supplied the title track with its fascinating false beginning, heartfelt lyrics (specially for a man of only 25), amazing display of the bass guitar from Greg Reeves that was to inspire generations of American bass players, and yet another star guest appearance - John Sebastion (ex Lovin' Spoonful) on Harmonica. John Sebastion was almost in the band himself after jamming with the others at Mama Cass' house in their formative days.

In true democratic fashion Neil Young gave in two songs, perhaps two of the best of his star studded career. This is even more incredible considering that later that year he released his solo classic 'After the Gold Rush'. The two songs are the stunning 'Helpless', a song of rare beauty, and the album's longest song 'Country Girl', given to us in three parts, which I make no excuse about including some lyrics…

''No pass out signs on the door set me thinking,
Are Waitresses paying the price of their winking,
Whilst Stars sit at Bars and decide what they are drinking,
They drop by the Bar because it's faster than sinking'
Too late to keep the change, too late to pay,
No time to stay the same, no time to stay the same, too young to change."


Making up the ten songs there is also a cover of Joni Mitchel's tribute to the legendary 1969 Festival 'Woodstock', which the band give a trademark performance of. (A remarkably similar version of the song was also recorded by 'Matthew Southern Comfort’ featuring Ian Matthews previously of 'Fairport Convention'. It was #1 in England in October 1970.)

The final track on the album is the rocking 'Everybody I Love You', co-written by Stephen Stills and Neil Young. A fine way to bring the album to a fitting climax.

It was obvious that there was far too much talent, not to mention too much ego, amongst these musicians for them to stay together as a band. But while they were, what glorious music they made. Only last year they were able to bury all their past hatchets and perform together again. According to reports none of the magic they had created way back then had been lost.

Many people consider 'Deja Vu' to be one of rock music’s all time classics. Mott the Dog is not one to disagree.


Pawed by Mott The Dog
Re-chewed by Ella Crew


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