Deja Vu (1970)


Crosby Stills Nash & Young – “Déjà Vu” (1970)

I listened to a 2nd generation CD of “Déjà Vu” recently – not a paint-face German original disc, but one from the mid-90’s – already “Re-Mastered”.  The sounds was OK, everything that I remembered was present.

I was alive and listening when Crosby Stills & Nash first walked down the pike, in 1969.  It was hard to miss!  A guy from The Byrds, the lead guitarist of Buffalo Springfield and a renowned harmony vocalist from The Hollies.  It was the age of the “Super Group” (i.e. groups made from other groups) – Blind Faith, for example.  There were aspects of the debut CS&N album that appealed; Stephen Still had been a valuable player in Buffalo Springfield; I supposed that David Crosby could sing harmony with whoever he wanted; Graham Nash was the more-or-less unknown quantity.  There were backing musicians, of course – such as Dallas Taylor (the drummer of Clear Light).

I’m going to call Stills the ‘leader’ of the group – after all, he already knew the guys at Atco / Atlantic, and that’s where they ended up.  Could Graham Nash have brokered a deal?  Uh, were we thinking about “the music business” yet?

So, “Déjà vu” is this scenario, adding another Buffalo Springfield singer – songwriter, Neil Young.  Two huge songwriters now!  And a new session bassist, Greg Reeves.  Did he really play on Motown sessions for The Temptations?  Is his name on any Motown releases (re-releases)?  With this stacked deck, this album would’ve had to really suck to not be huge.

It’s recorded well – not necessarily better than the first album, but…you can ‘hear the quality’.  Lots of bass, and high-end.  Oh, guest shots:  Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead playing pedal steel guitar on “Teach Your Children” and The Lovin’ Spoonful / John Sebastian playing ‘mouth harp (harmonica?) on the title track.  How’d they get the clearance to use those guys?  Oh, that’s right – Sebastian had signed with Reprise, and Garcia was with Warner Brothers – and we all remember W.E.A. (Warner Elektra Atlantic).  So, it was an in-house deal.

Carry On! I admit to cringing a wee bit as David Crosby sings “Almost Cut My Hair” – talk about paranoia! Neil Young’s “Helpless” sounds like it belongs on “After The Goldrush”.  Well, they had a few tracks on the “Woodstock” 3LP set, and they had a song about it from Joni Mitchell – not a bad track, but…still relevant? “Our House” was a pretty good single, this album’s “Marrakesch Express”.  “Country Girl” sounds like yet another “After The Goldrush” track, but…pretty good song!

I have difficulty regarding CSN&Y as the forerunner of The Eagles and Jackson Browne, but…not a million miles off, I suppose.  They weren’t on Geffen Records, at least!  But how much stuff must’ve been discussed to death – planning the ‘marketing’ of this album?  “How can we sell millions of our phonograph records to stoned, disenfranchised hippies?  Any ideas?”

What’s the dog’s name on the cover?  So, the drummer’s white and the bass player is black?  Letter-press cover?  No lyrics sheet this time?  Let’s get this thing into stores!

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3 Responses to Deja Vu (1970)

  1. Brian Ware says:

    I remember this album being a pretty big deal for me, just starting high school. Jumping on the British prog rock bandwagon was still a year or two off, so my world was very much tuneful, song driven pop/rock. The Beatles were still with us, and most Top 40 radio wasn’t embarrassing yet, so CSN&Y were very welcome in my world.

  2. ronkanefiles says:

    I definitely remember Deja Vu as an “important” release…

  3. Warren says:

    There was a book a few years ago that dealt with this. “Laurel Canyon”, was the title, I think. Shorter version: CSN and Co. get real high and make a couple of “important” records. Drugs and ego then took over, and it became about the money. The nascent Eagles saw an opportunity, and dove in. For Don Friendly and Glen High, it was *always* about the money.

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