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"...Our House Is A Very Fine House..." – Deja Vu (1994 Atlantic CD Reissue – Joe Gastwirt Remaster)
January 29, 2017
January 2006 saw a superlative 'Expanded & Remastered HDCD Edition' of CSN's monumental 1969 debut – "Crosby, Stills & Young" – but no such luck for the follow-up – the No. 1 album – "Deja Vu".
It seems astonishing that in January 2017 – almost 47 years after this masterpiece was released Stateside in March 1970 (May 1970 in the UK) – that we're essentially left with a Standard CD Remaster from the early 90's and a gatefold slip of paper as an inlay. No extras – no celebration – no annotation of any kind. In fact the one piece of info they do give is 'wrong' – quoting the US album's catalogue number as SD-19118 when that was the 1977 re-issue number – the original was Atlantic SD-7200.
I know that doesn't in any way lessen the achievement of both albums frankly – two melodious Americana masterpieces still casting a harmony-vocal shadow over today's myriad of musical landscapes. I just wish there was more for an album that's been a cornerstone of millions of record collections for closing on 50 years now. Still – let's deal with what we do have. Here are the details (for which I almost cut my hair)...
UK released August 1994 – "Deja Vu" by CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG on Atlantic 7567-82649-2 (Barcode 075678264924) is a straightforward 'Digitally Remastered' CD version of the 10-track album from 1970 and pans out as follows (36:31 minutes):
1. Carry On
2. Teach Your Children
3. Almost Cut My Hair
6. Déjà Vu [Side 2]
7. Our House
8. 4 + 20
9. Country Girl: (a) Whiskey Boot Hill (b) Down, Down, Down (c) "Country Girl" (I Think You're Pretty)
10. Everybody I Love You
Tracks 1 to 10 are their second studio album "Deja Vu" – released March 1970 in the USA on Atlantic SD-7200 and May 1970 in the UK on Atlantic 2401001. It rose to No.1 and No.5 respectively on the US and UK charts. It was first reissued in the UK in March 1972 onto Atlantic K 50001 (with the transfer of Atlantic’s catalogue to Kinney Music). "Carry On" and "4 + 20" written by Stephen Stills - "Everybody I Love You" written by Stephen Stills and Neil Young - "Teach Your Children" and "Our House" written by Graham Nash - "Almost Cut My Hair" and "Deja Vu" written by David Crosby - "Helpless" and "Country Girl" written by Neil Young with "Woodstock" being a Joni Mitchell cover version.
The gatefold inlay simply recreates the inner gatefold of the original vinyl LP (same both sides of the pond) – there’s a see-through CD tray with the words 'Digitally Remastered' on the spine and that's it. The good news is obvious the moment you play the CD – a JOE GASTWIRT Remaster from original tapes that rocks – warm, punchy and expressive when it needs to be.
I can remember when I first heard Stills' "Carry On" – the twanging acoustics – the hooky lyrics – but most of all those voices harmonising in a way that blew you out of the water. And the clever changes in tempos. Love is coming to us all indeed. Onwards to the code to live by – the feed them on your dreams "Teach Your Children" – a gorgeous Graham Nash ballad that wears its heart on a very open sleeve. In the UK the look-at-them-and-sigh "Teach Your Children" (with Gerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead on Steel Guitar) became the fourth 45 around the album when Atlantic paired it with "Deja Vu" on Atlantic 2019 039 in November 1970. David Crosby comes storming in like he’s Neil Young’s angrier brother with "Almost Cut My Hair" examining how peer pressure works and eventually deciding to remain individual – true to himself and let his freak flag fly. Neil decides to tells us in his nasal whine about a town in North Ontario where all his changes were – a place that still leaves shadows on his eyes (gorgeous audio as those voices come in on the chorus). They end Side 1 with a rocked-up version of Joni Mitchell’s peace weekend anthem "Woodstock" – Stills makes it more angry than it should be but I prefer the Matthews Southern Comfort 7" single version that went to No. 1 in the UK in 1970.
John Sebastian of The Lovin' Spoonful contributes a late Harmonica warble to the Side 2 opener "Deja Vu" – another David Crosby winner. As the years pass - I come back to the genius use of guitars, voices and tempo breaks in this superb 'makes me wonder' song - that wall-of-melody that only CSNY made when they sang. "...We have all been here before..." they chanted on "Deja Vu" – well yeah and I'll want to go back again. We go acoustic ethereal with "4 + 20" – a fabulous Stephen Stills tale of a troubled soul wondering why am I so alone. Atlantic put the three-part Neil Young "Country Girl" on the B-side of "Teach The Children" in April 1970 (Atlantic 2091 002) – a waitress winking at the hip clientele - but the sweet harmony vocals try to warn her that despite their amiable smiles love is hard to find in the city. What a brilliant song and I love that echoed Harmonica as it crescendos before fading out. The album ends of the Stills/Young rocker "Everybody I Love You" – guitars wailing as they "la la" those harmony vocals. What a record...
We should talk about what’s not here. There's a demo of the "Déjà Vu" classic "Teach Your Children" on the Expanded Edition of "Crosby, Stills & Nash" which would have had an obvious placing here. Fans will know that there is a version of "Almost Cut My Hair" on the 1991 "Carry On" 4CD Box Set by CSNY and a further version on Crosby’s 3CD Anthology from 2006 "Voyage". As well as those there’s the stunning stand-alone 7” single "Ohio" b/w "Find The Cost Of Freedom" – a brilliant two-sider that later turned on the "So Far - Best Of” LP compilation in 1974 – all ideal Bonus Tracks material. Perhaps one day we might get a Deluxe Edition 2CD set covering the event in its entirety – we remain helplessly hoping...
"...A different kind of poverty now upsets my soul... " – Stephen Stills sings on the quietly majestical "4 + 20". I never feel poverty when I listen to them - they've always lifted me up. Embrace the many-coloured beast...as the great man says...