Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Déjà Vu Live (as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)

Seeing as this is the final CSNY album I will be blogging about for "Journey Through the Past," perhaps I should say a few words. If you've looked through this whole massive, nearly finished project, then you've noticed that CSNY albums tend to be rated lower than Neil Young's solo albums. It's not so much that I actively dislike Crosby, Stills or Nash (well, maybe Crosby a little, but all three have made music I enjoy). It's more that I don't like them nearly as much as Neil, and I feel like he doesn't really collaborate well with them. There are some excellent Neil Young songs on the CSNY albums, but they tend to make up some of his most mainstream, least interesting, least experimental material. When he teams up with these guys, it seems to be more for the combined star power than for any sense that they push him into new creative territory.

On the other hand, I think CSN are wonderful performers, especially their vocals, and they make a great back-up band for Neil. During the 3 months I've been working on this, I bit the bullet and purchased Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 (which I may eventually do a retroactive post about, or at least about the Live at the Riverboat album included in it). One of the greatest pleasures on it, no lie, are the live versions of CSNY playing Neil's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" and "Tell Me Why." CSNs lovely harmonies layer perfectly under Neil's music.

So I feel a little ambivalent about Déjà Vu Live, which should more accurately be called Living With War Live, plus a few random Crosby, Stills & Nash songs. The performances are most definitely superior to the original studio versions, but I'm still not crazy about all the songs. The performances of good songs like "Living With War" and "After the Garden" are possibly their best versions, but two of that album's better songs ("The Restless Consumer" and "Flags of Freedom") are missing, while all the crappy ones are present and accounted for. The CSN songs on the album are solid enough (good performances of Nash's "Military Madness," Stills' "For What It's Worth," and Crosby's "What Are Their Names?"), but nothing essential, as the songs were selected more for their political content than their classic-ness.

With a better track listing, this could have shaped up as one of CSNY's best. As it stands, its an album of excellent performances of inconsistent material.

Rating: C +


Shenan said...

You might want to include a little background note on what "Deja Vu" is (not the original CSNY studio album, as I originally thought when I started reading this, then realized what you were talking about), so people understand what the live performance of it is.

Dan said...

I thought the first sentence of paragraph 3 covered that.

Shenan said...

So I feel a little ambivalent about Déjà Vu Live, which should more accurately be called Living With War Live, plus a few random Crosby, Stills & Nash songs.

That doesn't tell anyone what Deja Vu was, that it was a movie, what was in the movie, etc.

Dan said...

I never saw the movie. So I don't know what was in it, etc.

Shenan said...

BUT YOU KNOW THAT IT EXISTS! And others may not, and may not know that this album stemmed from that. Please, everyone reading this, Dan will never explain it, probably on principle now, so go wikipedia the movie CSNY: Deja Vu.