Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Déjà Vu (1970)

A heavier, earthier, more ragged record than their debut, the cause of which is called Neil Young. His voice adds a not unwelcome sourness to the choirboy harmonies of CS&N’s debut, his cranky guitar work pushes the band squarely into the rock half of the folk-rock movement. And yet Neil Young isn’t the story here, just an interesting chapter in it. Déjà Vu is one interesting chapter after another. The opening “Carry On” aligns with the multi-part “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” in form, and perfectly sums up the contrast in styles between the two records: the harmonies are lower but no less beguiling, the music more informed by Santana than Simon & Garfunkel. Turn the page and you get the first of Graham Nash’s lovely fables, “Teach Your Children,” featuring the steel guitar of Jerry Garcia. We keep our guard down for “Almost Cut My Hair” only to discover that David Crosby has much more on his mind. It’s really an anthem, marvelous because it questions its own motives for allegiance even as it praises the cause. When Neil Young’s “Helpless” rolls around, we’ve already made the acquaintance of his cantankerous electric, so this disarming country song is met with a raised eyebrow. The real Neil emerges on the opening moments of “Woodstock,” kicking up dust like a bantam rooster, and it’s here that you get an idea of what the first album might have sounded like had he been aboard. The title track weaves its familiar spell, and just as we’re convinced that the album couldn’t get any better, it does. “Our House” is simply one of the prettiest songs ever written, on a par with any of Paul McCartney’s romantic confections (“I Will,” “When I’m Sixty-Four”). To me, it’s the peak of a nearly perfect album. Things unravel slightly at the end, beginning with the Stills solo piece “4 + 20.” The three-part “Country Girl” from Neil Young is very good, but his ambitions have always been a little larger than his skill as an arranger. The closing “Everybody I Love You,” credited to Stills and Young, sounds like a holdover from Buffalo Springfield. As brilliant as it is, Déjà Vu is a balancing act. CSN&Y wasn’t a band so much as an open market where each member could shop their finest wares. Competitive natures may have spurred them on, and they clearly benefited from bartered skills, but we should have seen the planets slowly slipping from alignment. They wouldn’t approach this level of artistry again as a unit, instead splintering off into solo ventures and earlier couplings. But the serendipitous moment was captured for eternity, and Déjà Vu won’t let us forget.

Original LP Version
A1. Carry On (Stephen Stills) (4:25)
A2. Teach Your Children (Graham Nash) (2:53)
A3. Almost Cut My Hair (David Crosby) (4:25)
A4. Helpless (Neil Young) (3:30)
A5. Woodstock (Joni Mitchell) (3:52)
B1. Déjà Vu (David Crosby) (4:10)
B2. Our House (Graham Nash) (2:59)
B3. 4 + 20 (Stephen Stills) (1:55)
B4. Country Girl: Whiskey Boot Hill / Down, Down, Down / Country Girl (Neil Young) (5:05)
B5. Everybody I Love You (Stephen Stills/Neil Young) (2:20)

The Players
David Crosby (vocals, rhythm guitar), Graham Nash (vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar, percussion), Stephen Stills (vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, percussion), Neil Young (vocals, guitars, keyboards, harmonica), Gregory Reeves (drums), Dallas Taylor (drums, tambourine, percussion) with Jerry Garcia (steel guitar on A2), John Sebastian (mouth garp on B1). Produced by David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash & Neil Young; engineered by Bill Halverson. Direction by Elliot Roberts & Associates. Agent & friend: David Geffen.

The Pictures
Cover photography by Tom Gundelfinger. Inside photography by Henry Diltz, Sally Sacks. Art direction & design by Gary Burden.

The Plastic
Released on elpee in March 11, 1970 in the US (Atlantic, SD 7200), the UK (Atlantic, K50001) and Germany and the Netherlands (Atlantic, ATL 50001) with gatefold cover; reached #1 on the US charts (RIAA-certified 7X platinum record) and #5 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the UK (Atlantic, 2401 001) with gatefold cover.
  2. Re-issued on elpee and 8-track in 1972 in the US (Atlantic, SD/TP 19118) with gatefold cover.
  3. Re-issued on elpee in Yugoslavia (Suzy, ATL 50001).
  4. Re-issued on brown vinyl elpee in the Netherlands (Atlantic, SD 19118).
  5. Re-released on remastered elpee in 1983 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, MFSL-1-088).
  6. Re-issued on compact disc and cassette in 1987 in the US (Atlantic, 19118).
  7. Re-released on remastered compact disc and cassette on September 6, 1994 in the US (Atlantic, 82649).
  8. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 1995 in Japan (Atlantic, AMCY-4001).

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