Top positive review
A Glowing Testimony
November 18, 2014
My wife loves this album, and their debut, "Crosby, Stills and Nash" (she always was a sucker for soaring vocal harmonies and cushy love songs). At once sophisticated and casual, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" anchored the first album, a great tune that perhaps set the bar too high for what was to follow. I always thought "Crosby, Stills and Nash" was a good album with great moments (i.e. "Wooden Ships" and "Guinnevere").
What about "Deja Vu," their second album? Did Crosby, Stills and Nash really need Neil Young? Or was it the other way around? A better question, perhaps, is did the addition of Young improve the second album? I think so. Thanks to Young's influence, "Deja Vu" was edgier, more hard rocking, and less formulaic, an agreeable blending of song styles coupled with the group's trademark airtight harmonies, spiked with slashing guitars. And the songs? Better. Did Graham Nash ever write a better tune than the countryish "Teach Your Children"? Did Crosby ever equal the sustained brilliance of his jazz-influenced "Deja Vu"? Not everyone was overjoyed with Young's "Country Girl" suite, but I've always found it compelling. It's a miniature symphony with words, with tension in the first two movements -- "Whiskey Boot Hill" and "Down, Down, Down" -- followed by a satisfying release of tension in the finale -- "Country Girl" (I Think You're Pretty).
While "Deja Vu" doesn't open quite as strongly as "Crosby, Stills and Nash," the opening cut "Carry On" by Stephen Stills is a strong tune in its own right, with soaring harmonies and a nice mix of acoustic and electric guitars. Then there's the band's rock-n-roll treatment of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" featuring more electric guitars. And Crosby's equally rocking "Almost Cut My Hair" with Stills` and Young's blazing guitars stealing the spotlight, as in their Springfield days. Hot stuff. The only tune that sounds out of place is Nash's "Our House."
Bottom line: with or without Neil Young, Crosby, Stills and Nash was a larger-than life cultural phenomenon that transcended mere criticism, like Elvis and the Beatles. The band promised more than they could possibly deliver. Staying together proved impossible, but they did leave us with two outstanding albums. When they reunited years later, to record that long-anticipated third studio album, the magic was sadly missing. Their first two albums, therefore, stand as a glowing testimony of what once was, and would never be again.