March guest post: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Déjà vu

The Last Record StoreEvery month a guest blogger will review one of his/her own dollar-bin discoveries. Guest bloggers will be music lovers who have reached a High Fidelity type of expertise, being record store employees or otherwise changing the world of vinyl records.

For the month of March, Matthew Izen, from Santa Rosa’s The Last Record Store has graciously written a review of a classic 1970s album.

With a resume that includes experience as a record store employee, musician and overall music lover, Izen is no stranger to vinyl records. He has worked at The Last Record Store for three years and is also a consistent contributor to the music scene in San Francisco’s North Bay, playing in several bands including Polar Bears, The Velvet Teen and The New Trust (former member). Being part of the tight and like-minded music community, and often sharing band members, all three bands are big supporters of vinyl records and continue to release new music on the format. Most recently, Polar Bears created a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the release of its sophomore full-length album, Council Madrone. The band surpassed its $2,500 goal and with the help of Saint Rose Records, it will release the album on 210-gram heavyweight vinyl with limited hand/silk-screened covers. Look out for upcoming new releases from the The Velvet Teen and The New Trust as well.

Read Izen’s review of Déjà vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young after the cut.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Déjà vuCrosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Déjà vu
Atlantic Records ℗1970
Location of purchase: The Last Record Store, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Price: $1.00

Written by Matthew Izen

Here’s my qualifier: I’d rather not be cliche, but it’s true. The statement? This record changed my life. More accurately it changed the course of my musical appreciation. I was a little pop-punker listening to NOFX and the like. Definitely the most accessible stuff I could listen to and still be a weirdo. Descendents are still one of my favorite bands. I frequented the record store, where I am now employed, on a semi-weekly basis to browse the indie/punk section, although most of my purchases were from the overflowing dollar bins.

One week, Déjà vu caught my eye. I was familiar with Neil Young and had a vague recollection of either my mom or aunt singing Crosby, Stills & Nash songs. The record just looked cool. A faux-leather looking double-gate fold with a photo of the musicians actually pasted to the front of the jacket. From what I gathered, the inside was a collage documenting the recording session. It took hold immediately. It was super beat up, but I didn’t know any better at the time. I took it home and put it on my parents’ old record player. It blindsided me.

I still smile when I hear the over-compressed acoustic guitar intro of “Carry On.” The vocal harmonies are incredible. There are key and tempo changes that I didn’t really hear all that much when I first listened to the record. As well as, seventh chords and diminished ninths. I didn’t know what I was getting myself in to. I was more captivated by that record than anything I had heard before. I had found a record that actually moved me. I was used to listening to music that I felt like I could relate to. I was definitely not used to music transforming my mood. That feeling is something I constantly try to re-capture. There are few records that have grabbed my attention so quickly and kept it so enduringly.

It’s really hard to pick out a particular favorite track, especially since this is the record that taught me to listen to full albums rather than just songs. Since I’m a huge Neil Young fan, I’ll probably go with “Helpless.” Truthfully though, it’s a record that should be enjoyed in it’s entirety, especially on vinyl. The fact that the first song on side two, title track “Déjà vu,” is just as good an opener as the first song of side one, “Carry On,” is a testament to how great this record is front to back, and to how much time they spent putting it together. I don’t see myself tiring of this record. Ever.

Find the full track listing and a sample track below.

Side One

  1. Carry On
    (Stephen Stills)
  2. Teach Your Children
    (Graham Nash)
  3. Almost Cut My Hair
    (David Crosby)
  4. Helpless
    (Neil Young)
  5. Woodstock
    (Joni Mitchell)

Side Two

  1. Déjà vu
    (David Crosby)
  2. Our House
    (Graham Nash)
  3. 4+20
    (Stephen Stills)
  4. Country Girl
    (Neil Young)
  5. Everybody I Love You
    (Stephen Stills, Neil Young)
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