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Rock - Released July 26, 1994 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
One of the most hotly awaited second albums in history -- right up there with those by the Beatles and the Band -- Déjà Vu lived up to its expectations and rose to number one on the charts. Those achievements are all the more astonishing given the fact that the group barely held together through the estimated 800 hours it took to record Déjà Vu and scarcely functioned as a group for most of that time. Déjà Vu worked as an album, a product of four potent musical talents who were all ascending to the top of their game coupled with some very skilled production, engineering, and editing. There were also some obvious virtues in evidence -- the addition of Neil Young to the Crosby, Stills & Nash lineup added to the level of virtuosity, with Young and Stephen Stills rising to new levels of complexity and volume on their guitars. Young's presence also ratcheted up the range of available voices one notch and added a uniquely idiosyncratic songwriter to the fold, though most of Young's contributions in this area were confined to the second side of the LP. Most of the music, apart from the quartet's version of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock," was done as individual sessions by each of the members when they turned up (which was seldom together), contributing whatever was needed that could be agreed upon. "Carry On" worked as the album's opener when Stills "sacrificed" another copyright, "Questions," which comprised the second half of the track and made it more substantial. "Woodstock" and "Carry On" represented the group as a whole, while the rest of the record was a showcase for the individual members. David Crosby's "Almost Cut My Hair" was a piece of high-energy hippie-era paranoia not too far removed in subject from the Byrds' "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man," only angrier in mood and texture (especially amid the pumping organ and slashing guitars); the title track, also by Crosby, took 100 hours to work out and was a better-received successor to such experimental works as "Mind Gardens," out of his earlier career with the Byrds, showing his occasional abandonment of a rock beat, or any fixed rhythm at all, in favor of washing over the listener with tones and moods. "Teach Your Children," the major hit off the album, was a reflection of the hippie-era idealism that still filled Graham Nash's life, while "Our House" was his stylistic paean to the late-era Beatles and "4+20" was a gorgeous Stephen Stills blues excursion that was a precursor to the material he would explore on the solo album that followed. And then there were Neil Young's pieces, the exquisitely harmonized "Helpless" (which took many hours to get to the slow version finally used) and the roaring country-ish rockers that ended side two, which underwent a lot of tinkering by Young -- even his seeming throwaway finale, "Everybody I Love You," was a bone thrown to longtime fans as perhaps the greatest Buffalo Springfield song that they didn't record. All of this variety made Déjà Vu a rich musical banquet for the most serious and personal listeners, while mass audiences reveled in the glorious harmonies and the thundering electric guitars, which were presented in even more dramatic and expansive fashion on the tour that followed. ~ Bruce Eder
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Rock - Released July 4, 2014 | Rhino

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
It was, at the time, one of the highest-grossing rock tours ever, grossing over 11 million dollars in an era when such figures were uncommon. Such success camouflaged the chaos behind the scenes -- the bitter fights and feuds, the excess and indulgence that led to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young pocketing about a half million dollars each, when all was said and done. Big bucks were the reason the CSNY 1974 tour even existed. Efforts to record a new album in 1973, their first since 1970's breakthrough Déjà Vu, collapsed but manager Elliot Roberts and promoter Bill Graham convinced the group to stage the first outdoor stadium tour in the summer of 1974, with the idea that CSNY would test-drive new material in concert, then record a new studio album in the fall, or maybe release a live record from the historic tour. Neither happened. The group cleaved in two upon the tour's conclusion and the live tapes sat in the vaults until Graham Nash decided to assemble a box set of the tour just in time for its 40th anniversary in 2014. Nash and producer Joel Bernstein -- the driving forces behind the excellent new millennial archival CSN reissues -- culled the best moments from the nine recorded shows, sometimes cobbling together composites, then assembled the whole thing as a three-CD set designed to replicate the mammoth three-hour sets the quartet played in 1974. That very length indicates how there was room on the 1974 tour for every aspect of CSNY, giving space to sensitive folk, woolly electric guitar jams, hits, and unheard songs. Several of those new songs showed up on albums by CSNY in various permutations, while a few -- mostly written by Young -- never got an airing outside of this tour, so the first official release of "Love Art Blues," "Pushed It Over the End," and even the throwaway Nixon jape "Goodbye Dick" is indeed noteworthy. But what makes CSNY 1974 a substantial chapter in their legacy is how it captures the band in full flight just as its moment is starting to slip away. Stills and Young play with the burly force they channeled into Manassas and Crazy Horse, providing a startling contrast to both the sweetness of disc two's acoustic set and Crosby's excursions into the haze of If I Could Only Remember My Name. Hearing the band pull apart as its members come together is simultaneously thrilling and enervating because Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young remain locked in a battle to outdo one another; it's fascinating to hear them spar, but also draining. Nevertheless, that messy competition is why CSNY 1974 is a vital addition to their canon. Tales of CSNY acrimony are legend, but this rancor rarely surfaced on record. Here, those brawling egos are pushed to the forefront, with all the pretty harmonies operating as an accent to the main event. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released October 7, 2016 | Rhino

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Rock - Released October 7, 2016 | Rhino

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Rock - Released June 23, 1992 | Atlantic Records

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had come out of Woodstock as the hottest new music act on the planet, and followed it up with Deja Vu, recorded across almost six months in the second half of 1969 and released in March of 1970, supported by a tour in the summer of that year. As it happened, despite some phenomenal music-making on-stage that summer, the tour was fraught with personal conflicts, and the quartet split up upon its completion. And as it happened, even Deja Vu was something of an illusion created by the foursome -- Neil Young was only on five of the album's ten tracks -- which meant that an actual, tangible legacy for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was as elusive and ephemeral to listeners as Ahab's Moby Dick. But then came 4 Way Street, released in April of 1971: a live double-LP set, chock-full of superb music distilled down from a bunch of nights on that tour that more than fulfilled the promise of the group. Indeed, contained on those original four LP sides was the embodiment of everything great that the unique ethos behind this group -- which was not a "group" but four individuals working together -- might have yielded. Each of the participants got to show off a significant chunk of his best work, whether presented alone or in tandem with the others, and the shared repertory -- "Long Time Gone," "Ohio" etc. -- binding it all together as more than a documentary of some joint appearances. Conceptually, it was all as diffuse as the concept behind the group, but musically, 4 Way Street was one of the great live rock documents of its time, a status that the original vinyl retains along with such touchstones as the Allman Brothers' At Fillmore East, the live half of the Cream's Wheels of Fire, and the Grateful Dead's Live/Dead; some of the extended guitar jams between Stills and Young ("Southern Man") go on longer than strict musical sense would dictate, but it seemed right at the time, and they capture a form that was far more abused in other hands after this group broke up. Although Neil Young and Stephen Stills had the advantage of the highest wattage on their songs and their jams together, David Crosby and Graham Nash more than manage to hold their own, not only with some strong and distinctive songs, but also with a strong case that less could be more: they reached the more introspective members of their audience, mostly individually, while Stills and Young wowed the crowds collectively. In many respects, this was the greatest part of the legacy that the foursome left behind, though it is also a bit unfair to stack it up next to, say, Deja Vu, as 4 Way Street had the advantage of all four participants ranging freely across a combined 20 years of repertory. ~ Bruce Eder
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Rock - Released August 19, 1986 | Rhino Atlantic

Unbeknown to most fans, So Far was a stopgap release, undertaken by Atlantic Records in the absence of a new Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album to accompany the reunited quartet's summer 1974 tour. At the time, the members thought it was ridiculous to release a greatest-hits/best-of compilation distilled down from two in-print LPs plus the single sides "Ohio" and "Find the Cost of Freedom"; but propelled by the publicity surrounding the group's massive stadium tour (the first exclusive stadium tour ever done in rock), So Far topped the charts and sold hundreds of thousands of copies, all without containing so much as a single new note of music. Ironically, the quartet had been working on what would have been, by all accounts, the best album in their history; as with so many other projects attempted by the four-man lineup, however, that album fell apart halfway through, amid clashes of egos and creative differences, and so there was So Far. Taken on its own terms, the album manages to be both enjoyable and frustrating, as well as virtually obsolete in the 21st century -- the Joni Mitchell cover art is cool, and the presence of "Ohio" and "Find the Cost of Freedom" makes it attractive (until the 1990s, So Far was the only album to contain both songs); and a case can be made that it contains some of the better moments from Crosby, Stills & Nash and Déjà Vu. The problem is that those were two virtually perfect albums, and the idea of excerpting parts of them for a compilation makes no more sense than, say, excerpting the first two Beatles albums for a "best of" on that band. Further, it's not even a true greatest-hits or best-of compilation, with "Marrakesh Express" not present. And it is difficult to imagine anyone who enjoys this disc not enjoying the two complete albums even more. So, essentially, owning So Far serves no purpose except to get "Ohio" and "Find the Cost of Freedom," which are also on Carry On and the Crosby, Stills & Nash box, both of which offer a lot more, dollar for dollar and song for song. For those inclined to buy it, however, the 1994 reissue (Atlantic 82648) of So Far is to be preferred for sound quality over the earlier edition. ~ Bruce Eder
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Rock - Released November 11, 1988 | Atlantic Records

There are some excellent songs here, notably Young's "This Old House" and Crosby's "Compass," but the quartet didn't really jell on its first new studio album in 14 years. Certainly, expectations were so high that the album seemed much worse than it really was, and in retrospect it seems a workmanlike effort simply lacking the spark that made this group so much more than the sum of its parts. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Rock - Released October 15, 1999 | Warner Records

By 1997, Crosby, Stills & Nash were without a label thanks to a drastic artistic slump, but they began working on a new album, paying for studio time out of their own pockets. Neil Young expressed interest in the tapes, and suddenly, a new CSNY album was in the works. Even though Young's continual tinkering pushed its release back by months, Looking Forward still feels rushed and half-finished. It's immediately apparent that the record began as a self-financed project; it sounds weirdly muted, as if all the levels weren't set accurately; similarly, it's possible to hear sometimes awkward overdubs added to basically completed tracks. While they may have named the album Looking Forward, CSNY are alternately nostalgic and haunted by the past, which colors their attempts to look toward the future. All four of Young's songs fit squarely within the Harvest tradition, as he tries to balance his restless nature with growing old. His songs aren't bad, but they feel like rough drafts for greater solo-album insights. Stills is looking backward musically on his three songs, but what's really striking is his extreme bitterness, completely misunderstanding the youth of the '90s. It's especially jarring when juxtaposed with Crosby's rosy outlook, though his "Stand and Be Counted" -- a well-intentioned salute to the activist spirit of the '60s -- is a flat-out embarrassment. Which leaves Nash, whose two unassuming, sepia-toned songs may seem slight, but wind up as the most satisfying because their gentle melodies and easy, assured performances recall the group's heyday. They're buried in what feels like a collection of undirected solo tracks, and to a certain extent, that's been the case with CSNY since Déjà Vu. But Looking Forward is even more disjointed than 1988's tepid American Dream, even if it is a better listen. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released July 21, 2008 | Reprise

Based on the title, it's hard not to think that Déjà Vu Live finds Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reaching back into their past, perhaps even performing their classic 1970 album in its entirety. That's not true, although there is an album that comes close to being performed in its entirety here, and that's Neil Young's 2006 political manifesto Living with War, a controversial record that Young supported by re-teaming with CSN for a tour -- a tour that was documented in the Young-directed feature documentary Déjà Vu Live. Got that? It's a series of circumstances a bit too confusing for music that's so straightforward, as the Living with War tour was as direct as the album itself. Direct, yes, but it also was a bit softer than the record, as it was bathed in the warm glow of the reunion of Young with CSN, whose presence helps Young's songs seem elegiac instead of bitter. There's no disguising what this is: this is a set of aging hippies lamenting the way things are now by connecting to who they were back then, reuniting for the new songs and mixing up relevant older ones -- including, yes, the warhorses "For What It's Worth" and "Teach Your Children" -- to provide a bridge to the past. CSNY don't run from their age, as they can't escape it: some voices have grown gravelly, the harmonies are shakier, there isn't quite as much muscle to the guitar. But by not running from these signs of age, CSNY wind up with a live album that has a bit of resonance, as when it's contrasted with the rangy, restless 4 Way Street, it's hard not to be a little moved and marvel that the bandmembers feel so comfortable here, especially considering their tortured history. This winds up being the overarching impression left by Déjà Vu Live, as despite the topicality of the set list, Déjà Vu Live feels curiously isolated; there may have been controversy on the tour, all chronicled on Young's film, but it doesn't feel engaged with the culture at large, which could be a side effect of the digital dislocation of the 21st century, or it could be a sign that CSNY are growing older and simply don't stir things up the way they did back then. But for those who are listening, their message has resonance -- and so does the music, as this live record winds up being a nice understated grace note to their tumultuous career. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine