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Monday, May 24, 2021

Review of the Moment: CSNY's Deja Vu 50th Anniversary Edition

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 'Deja Vu' 
Re-enters this week's #Billboard200 chart at #159
(screenshot via CBS This Morning- May 23, 2021)


CSNY's Deja Vu 50th Anniversary edition boxset continues to surprise and delight fans. 

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 'Deja Vu' re-enters this week's #Billboard200 chart at No. 159. It hit No. 1 on May 16, 1970, stayed on the charts for over 7 years, and last appeared on the chart in October 1977.

Our Review of the Moment is from REVIEW: "DEJA VU AGAIN" - CSNY 50th Anniversary by Bill Bentley | Neil Young Archives by Dan (compiled from multiple comments):

Just finished listening to the entire Deja Vu box set and I’m extremely impressed.

I don’t want to single anything out quite yet as I need to listen several times before I commit to individual songs, but the vinyl sounds excellent and the pressing is beautiful. There are 29 unreleased tracks and several of them are remarkable. The booklet comes with a historical and well written text, and includes some great photos of some very young and talented musicians. The cover is an exact replica of the original album and the sound of the music is phenomenal.

Only one unreleased song from Neil, but his unmistakable guitar work can be heard on several of the unreleased material, and needless to say.... incredible.

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.

Deja Vu Demos disc......

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.

Deja Vu Outtakes disc......

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.

Deja Vu 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 🙏

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

Thanks so much for all of the commentary here Dan. Greatly appreciated your making the effort to share thoughts on each of the discs.

While it keeps getting pointed out that Neil held back for his Archives, the richness brought by Crosby, Stills, & Nash's contributions more than offsets. In an earlier interview, Stills admits that Neil has turned out to be the smart one who kept all copyrights and ownerships. Still, OTOH, sold all of his songs which is why this boxset probably ended up being on a Rhino Label reissue.

(1 LP/4 CD boxed set @ $99.98)
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Stills, Crosby, Young & Nash  - 1974
@ Broken Arrow Ranch, CA


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

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At 5/24/2021 06:10:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Thanks Thrasher.

I also wanted to add that I just read that the vinyl of the original Deja Vu album was cut completely AAA analog by Chris Bellman from the original master tapes, and pressed at Optimal. So according to Analog Planet’s Michael Fremer, this pressing sounds better than the original.
......and I couldn’t agree more.

Peace 🙏

At 5/25/2021 12:11:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks, thrasher and Dan, for all you do. I have been MIA on comments lately, but still keep track of new posts. After an intensive period with NYA#2 (plus Young Shakespeare), I have been digesting the 50th anniversary Plastic Ono Band box set, so my mental and musical energies have been elsewhere. Not a planned Neil Break per se, but absence makes the heart grow fonder—so when I get back to NY deep listening—eventually—it will be all the more rewarding.

I am glad Neil’s working on the new album... taking the time to do it right, working carefully is not a betrayal of the muse... and that Toast (!) should be among the wonderful offerings coming this year.

I thought I posted a comment on NY#2 box set content at some point, but it may have been lost in the cyber void. I should remember to always save copies of my posts, as this has been a recurrent problem, especially with posting via mobile, which is otherwise more convenient in many cases.

In other good news, Saturday will mark two weeks since my second Pfizer shot, making me officially Fully Vaccinated at that point. Hopefully (knock on wood...), the US is finally rounding the corner on the pandemic. “I want to live like a free roaming soul on the highway of our love.”

~Om Shanti.

At 5/25/2021 12:57:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Ian, glad to hear from you, and glad you are headed to full immunity. I actually had a beer at the local pub last week.

I have listened to the Deja Vu 5oth anniversary album. I can't help myself- "Helpless" is just so much better than the other songs. Timeless, and speaks directly to our mortality and finitude. I went back and listened to the Nick Cave version, which is also incredible.

At 5/25/2021 01:27:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Ian : I'm still working my way through the Plastic Ono Band box. So farI find it to be the definitive release of this remarkable album. And the vinyl edition sounds better than the original. The sound is so much more open, just beautiful.


At 5/25/2021 04:13:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Dan - good deal on this new pressing sounding better than the original.

that's really saying something in this day and age.

@ Meta Rocker - hey, great to hear from you!

Makes total sense on Neil Break & absence makes the heart grow fonder. Know that feeling as well.

bummer on the missing comment. We know how frustrating that can be to lose one's carefully crafted thoughts into the void. :(

Om Shanti to you as well and take care living like "a free roaming soul on the highway of our love.”

@ Abner - hmm, the Nick Cave version. Will have to look for that.

At 5/28/2021 06:13:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

"Helpless" is just so much better than the other songs. - to each his own I prefer the title track, Carry On & 4 + 20. Good to see Nash get some more mileage from this release !

At 5/29/2021 10:22:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks, all, for the replies--I appreciate the friendly atmosphere that's developed on TW between the relatively few regulars we have these days.

I am around, and will try to post a bit more consistently. Look forward as ever to NYA and other offerings in the pipeline. Talk about an embarrassment of riches--it's better than silver and gold.


At 5/30/2021 11:34:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@Ian : Your input is always a welcome addition here, and I always enjoy your observations and wisdom.

Peace 🙏

At 5/30/2021 07:05:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Andy Walters, the title track is better than Helpless? Good luck with that.

At 5/31/2021 10:50:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@Andy and Abner, the title song is one of my favorites from Crosby, but better than Helpless? I wouldn't go that far.

@Dan--Thanks, and re: the Plastic Ono Band set, I agree with your assessment. I don't think I've ever heard such a thoroughgoing, track-by-track deconstruction of the creation of an album. And I mean that in the best way imaginable. Even the Imagine box set from a few years back, while fantastic, was not quite so comprehensive and systematic in showing how each recording was built. Ever wonder what happens after the fadeout on the original tracks? Now you know. How many tempos/time signatures did they experiment try for Hold On? The outtakes, jams, and 'evolution' mixes will give you some idea.

One of my favorites is the early (first ever, I think) run-through of Instant Karma, where George Harrison's electric guitar is featured prominently. Unfortunately, it's only available on the extended blu-ray 'demos' section, but the licks are so distinctively, quintessentially "George" and it gives the song a different feeling. Apparently, George along with Billy Preston (Hammond organ) recorded more, but most of it was wiped when they reused the multi-tracks--the hardbound book that comes with CD/BD set is meticulous on these details.

Amazing as well to hear Give Peace a Chance without the studio overdubs and reverb. I don't think I was aware how much was added to this track after the bed-in jam. The stripped down mixes truly capture the feeling of a happy sing-along; refreshing to hear John's acoustic ringing out and (yes, really) Yoko trying out harmonies on the chorus that were mostly buried in the choir overdubs.

There's so much that I haven't mentioned (like the Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band jam sessions on the second blu-ray disc, which are a revelation and worth hearing for John's guitar tone and Ringo's experimental drumming, even for those who struggle with Yoko), and I agree it's almost too much to properly process.

We all shine on!

At 5/31/2021 11:34:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Have any of you listened to the Nick Cave version of Helpless. "the chains are locked and tied across the door, they seem to help me somehow" the added lyrics capture one layer of the meaning. To recognize the predicament, a fundamental one, is to help ourselves in the only way possible (a sheer awareness of our mortality and limits). Nick Cave understands human mortality and why it matters for the meaning of life. The effort to somehow wish away mortality or elude it (after life and so on) is a bad idea. The song is a recognition that we are stuck with ourselves and our finitude, painfully honest and heart breaking.

At 5/31/2021 03:56:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Abner, Just checked out the Nick Drake cover. I hear what you mean. The subtle changes to the words are interesting, although I appreciate some of the abstraction/scatteredness in NY's images that Cave has smoothed over a bit: "Dream comfort memory to spare", for instance, is crushingly poignant without having its syntax cleaned up.

At 5/31/2021 04:17:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@Ian : I agree that the Plastic Ono Band Deluxe Edition is the definitive deep dive. I’m only about a third of the way through, as there has been an overwhelming amount of releases to digest recently. Three dox sets from Neil, Deja Vu 50th, Bowie’s Width of a Circle, and the Zappa movie soundtrack. I’m just taking my time so I can absorb everything in the proper state of mind. Personally, I’m looking forward to the Yoko part of the Lennon box, as I’ve heard some bootleg recordings from those sessions and they were truly inspiring.

Great to have you and Abner back, as you’re both gifted writers and always get me going deeper.

Peace 🙏

At 5/31/2021 07:43:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Dan, you are really listening to some great music, can you tell me what the Frank Zappa movie soundtracks are all about? I know nothing about it and I also know nothing about the Plastic Ono Band... I always look forward to reading your comments.

Ian, I agree with you. The Cave version is very earnest and I think he was trying (perhaps) to capture the meaning of the song in a fairly specific way- without damaging the poetic content. He also says that "all of my best changes were there.."

When I left home in the fall of 1978, never went back, I used to think about that line- "all of my changes were there" and Cave's version made me think some more with the mere addition of one word, "best." Something that cannot be retrieved.

At 6/01/2021 12:11:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6/01/2021 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@Abner : The film ‘ Zappa’ was directed by Alex Winter and he created a film that presents Frank as a human as opposed to a celebrity. If you’re unfamiliar with FZ, it’s a wonderful place to start. I’ve been a fan of Frank since my older brother played me ‘Freak Out’ ( a double album and Frank’s first release) in 1967. I was 11 years old at the time, and the first disc was an homage to 1950’s Doo Wop with a twist. The second album actually scared me at first, as it contained sounds I’d never been exposed to before. As time passed I began to understand it better, and have been a fan ever since. The movie soundtrack is an overview of his career and covers alot of musical ground. I highly recommended anyone interested in Zappa’s music to see this wonderful film and then explore his catalogue of recorded output. Just be prepared, as his catalogue is over 100 releases with several double and triple albums.

During his lifetime he was never widely recognized as a classical composer, but as time has passed his works are now being performed by some of the most prestigious orchestra’s around the world. His classical compositions are extremely difficult to master, and challenge even the most gifted musicians.

Peace 🙏

At 6/01/2021 01:54:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Dan, thanks for reminding me of the Zappa movie—I had meant to check it out. I know FZ a bit but have never taken the deep dive. Familiar, of course, with the ‘71 Filmore “Plastic Ono Mothers” show with John, Yoko, and Frank (side 4 of Sometime in NYC double album). I’ll have to add Zappa to my list. I wonder how this material will be treated if we get a deluxe edition Sometime in NYC similar to Imagine and POB?

At 6/01/2021 06:03:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Ian : I’m guessing that Sean & Yoko are going to do deluxe editions for every Lennon album, judging from what we’ve seen so far. At least that’s what I’m feeling. Obviously they are taking great care with his music and so far the results have been stunning.

For FZ , the family trust has been doing justice to his legacy. Every single release has been stellar, and they spare no expense in releasing stuff they find in Zappa’s huge vault. Zappa is an acquired taste for most people, but if you’re willing to go deep, the rewards are many.

Peace 🙏

At 6/02/2021 11:42:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Dan, your comments on Zappa are greatly appreciated. Very helpful for me. I had a friend growing up who was a Zappa freak. I never explored it. Thanks again.


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