Deja Vu

Crosby Stills Nash & Young

Atlantic Records, 1970

REVIEW BY: Scott Floman


Borrowing Neil Young after his triumphant stint with Crazy Horse (on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere) gave Deja Vu a harder edged sound than Crosby, Stills, & Nash, released the previous year. Young's primary contribution is his cutting guitar, memorably dueling with Stills' more precise work on an electrified version of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock." His two writing contributions, the sad but beautiful "Helpless" and the dramatic epic "Country Girl," are also stellar.

Elsewhere, the songwriting is more evenly spread than the previous offering, which Stills dominated. David Crosby lends the theatrical "Almost Cut My Hair," ultimately deciding against it because "I feel like letting my freak flag fly," and the strange, harmony laden title track. Though of course the harmonies are highlights (after all, that's what gives this band their identity), these tracks take off because of the raw, intricate lead guitar and absorbing bass lines supplied by Greg Reeves.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

For his part, Graham Nash lends two ultra catchy dippy hippy anthems. "Teach Your Children" features the prominent pedal steel guitar of Jerry Garcia, while "Our House" is a slight domestic tale with cartoonish (but enjoyable) vocal harmonies. Nash was always the poppiest writer of the bunch; never was that more apparent than here.

Stills' "4 + 20" is a short acoustic ditty, and the Young/Stills penned "Everybody I Love You" contains a propulsive beat and blaring guitar, but whose idealistic lyrics declared that this Woodstock institution wasn't ready to let that dream die, anchoring the 60's to the 70's. And Stills' "Carry On" is probably their best song, whose clean harmonies are matched to daring basslines and harsh guitar heroics, creating a captivating brew. Though obviously the product of a certain period (hell, it helped define an era), Deja Vu still sounds grand.

Many people are surprised at the band's meager recorded output (it wasn't until 1988's underwhelming American Dream that Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young got back together in the studio, though they made two albums without Young in the meantime). Something always seemed to come between them to compromise their ability to make music together, most notably David Crosby's drug problem. In truth, they made the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame more because of their mythical stature and historical importance than due to an impartial judging of their recorded output. However flawed, they were a band of many charms whose sum was clearly greater than their individual parts (except for Young, whose solo career easily dwarfs his fellow bandmates). For anyone who has ever wondered what the fuss was about with these guys, their strengths were never more apparent than on Deja Vu.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A


© 1997 Scott Floman and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.