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Saturday, May 22, 2021

REVIEW: "DEJA VU AGAIN" - CSNY 50th Anniversary by Bill Bentley | Neil Young Archives

Stills, Crosby, Young & Nash  - 1974
@ Broken Arrow Ranch, CA

DEJA VU's opening track, "Carry On" by Stephen Stills, cracked things open like a promising battle cry. 

It set up what would follow it on the album as answers to the question of how the youth explosion would persevere. It was only seven months after Woodstock, but that seemed like a lifetime ago. What the deadly concert at Altamont hadn't blurred, the march of history was beginning to bring fear to the forefront. Commercial success had become a new religion, and the music itself could sometimes feel like it was part of that process. Still, the foursome of CSNY had appeared almost out of nowhere, and weren't afraid to put their flag in the ground for what they believed. Graham Nash's "Teach Your Children," featuring Jerry Garcia's mesmerizing pedal steel guitar, was a heartfelt hope for a future where the next generation might have a better chance at realizing the peaceful hopes of their parents. 

Then David Crosby's "Almost Cut My Hair," a searing song of self-examination that is as chilling today as it was five decades ago brought so many questions to the front. The albums first three songs were as different from each other as they could be, but like a rock trifecta they announced that something was definitely happening here.

Those three opening tracks become the perfect set-up for Neil Young's "Helpless," which arrives almost like a letter from another planet, one where Young had drifted after leaving Canada when he was 21. 

While nightmare nostalgia swirls and lingers in the musical background, the idea of returning home becomes a dream that cannot be denied. It's like the tightrope of life has taken over: where to go, what to do, when to stay, when to leave? In ways that at first might appear to be a young person's dilemma, it is really a puzzle which is never solved: can you go home again? The final question then becomes where is home, and are the chains really locked and tied across the door, as Young sings, so you can never enter or leave to find it? In the end, it just might be that home really is the place where all your changes were. And then realizing that the changes might never end. That's when the knees buckle, the heart tears in two, and those blue, blue windows in the sky and the guiding stars become the only way to find the way forward. Wherever that is. 

After that track, it's rock & roll to the ultimate rescue with CSNY's scorching version of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock." Mitchell might not have been at the world's most famous rock festival, but that's where the wonder of imagination comes in, because without question her spirit flew there through the magic of songwriting. And the band, who were there playing only their second concert, nail "Woodstock" to the wall forever. Life is funny that way. In the vinyl world, which is the place this album was first made for, the side ends. Time to contemplate and decide what's next. Side two, or silence? 

Life is full of choices, and fortunately we have the freedom to decide.

Full review of CSNY's 50th Anniversary edition of "DEJA VU AGAIN"  by Bill Bentley on Neil Young Archives.

(1 LP/4 CD boxed set @ $99.98)
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Deja Vu 50th Anniversary - Outtakes Disc #3 | NYA


Also, the full 4 disc Deja Vu 50th Anniversary edition is now streaming on NYA.

Here is the recent episode of Thrasher's Wheat Radio 2.0 Podcast, hosted by our good friends  highlighting CSNY's Deja Vu 50th Anniversary edition.



Also, see ESSAY: 50th Anniversary of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Deja Vu" by Harvey Kubernik.

Deja Vu Photo Composites
via Susan Miller 
See 50th Anniversary of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Deja Vu" by Harvey Kubernik

Labels: , , ,


At 5/23/2021 07:36:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

I’ve been listening to the DEMOS disc, and I have always enjoyed hearing songs that have yet to be formed. Everything on this disc is really enjoyable, but the ones that really peaked my interest were.... 4+20 / Birds / So Begins the Task : Hold on Tight / How Have You Been / Know You Got To Run / Question Why / Laughing / She Can Handle It / Deja Vu, and of course the Our House demo with Joni is just really sweet.

Stephen Stills is such a remarkable musician and his demos could have easily been officially released versions and no one would have complained. Each of his demos feel fully realized. Just a remarkable talent.

David Crosby managed to create some stunning songs during a tragic and painful period in his life. Considering what he was dealing with, I can’t imagine how he functioned at all, let alone creating such beautiful songs like Laughing and Almost Cut My Hair. He deserves some praise for not giving up during such extreme circumstances.

Neil Young only gave us the demo for Birds, and I suppose we should be grateful as it is a wonderful version.

Graham Nash seems to be the one most attentive to the details for each song he sings on, and I think Question Why is a great song. Glad we finally get a chance to hear it.

These four guys were at their best during the making of Deja Vu and these demos really shed some valuable light on their process. I’m interested in what others have enjoyed and look forward to reading everyone’s thoughts. These are the songs I resonated with the most on this disc, and I will be listening to the Outtakes & Alternates more intently and write about them later. What a wonderful 50th anniversary edition.

Peace 🙏

At 5/23/2021 10:01:00 PM, Blogger Art Carey said...

Comparing this to the ATGR 50th Anniversary!

sea of madness

At 5/24/2021 10:52:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@Art Carey : Agreed; there is no comparison.

The Deja Vu 50th is an embarrassment of riches, and After The Gold Rush 50th anniversary is simply an embarrassment. Thankfully Neil has given us so much more inside and outside his archives over the past year that it feels inappropriate to complain about the 50th anniversary of After the Gold Rush.

That being said; the 50th anniversary of After the Gold Rush is the only Neil Young release I won’t be purchasing on vinyl as it is simply over priced for what is offered. But I’m so grateful for the multitude of quality releases that Neil has given us and look forward to the future releases he has already prepared.

Neil has always followed his own path and with this one exception I have always been impressed with his choices. Throughout his storied career I have always admired his ability to surprise and confound his fans. Yet he has never released an album that I didn’t’ find compelling.
He is without doubt one of the few creative artists that has never compromised his gift or patronized his fans. He’s unconcerned with fame and follows his own path which is why he has earned the ability to make the music he chooses and doesn’t care if anyone buys it. He has built a fan base that admire his tenacity and integrity.

Peace 🙏

P.S. Happy 80th Birthday Bob, you are a true master of your craft., and a treasure to us all.

At 5/24/2021 02:44:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Deja Vu Outtakes:

Outtakes tend to be a lot like deleted scenes from movies. Basically there’s a reason why they didn’t make the cut, and these eleven tracks are a great example of that. The Demos disc had a running time of over 70 minutes and was filled with some wonderful music. Outtakes runs just over 40 minutes with only a few real gems. The tracks I really found intriguing were : The Lee Shore / Horses Through a Rainstorm / Ivory Tower, and Laughing. These four songs were definitely worth adding to this deep dive into this seminal record, and I feel each add value to the story. Unfortunately for us Rusties, Neil is basically missing on the disc. But after my first listen of the entire set I heard Neil’s guitar featured prominently on the Alternates disc...... coming next.

Peace 🙏

At 5/24/2021 03:36:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Alternates disc......

Of the three bonus discs included in this 50th anniversary edition of Deja Vu, this is definitely my favorite. The whole disc feels like a complete piece and contains an incredible example of the guitar work from both Neil and Stephen. This is why they needed Neil in the first place. Just their guitar conversation during Almost Cut My Hair is worth the entire price of this collection. Sadly it’s the only song that captures their guitar magic together on this particular disc. The absence of Neil Young during the making of Deja Vu is even more evident now with this collection, but what is here is obviously really wonderful stuff. I would have loved to hear an alternate Country Girl but apparently there wasn’t one..... or Neil is hanging on to it for a later release of his own...... maybe. 🤞

Every song is just different enough to make it an interesting listen, and with the addition of Know You Got To Run as a bonus, this is the best disc in the set. I’m so glad that this ‘Alternates’ disc was chosen as the vinyl release for Record Stone Day coming up in July. What a wonderful gift to add to the vinyl collection. Certainly an important companion piece to the original release to be sure.

Looking forward to hearing from others on this release.

Peace 🙏


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