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
But I didn't and I wonder why, I
feel like letting my freak flag
It must be because I had the Flu
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
''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
Many people consider 'Deja Vu' to be
one of rock music’s all time classics.
Mott the Dog is not one to disagree.
by Mott The Dog
Re-chewed by Ella Crew