With their appearance at Woodstock, Crosby, Stills and Nash were figureheads for the counterculture and Déjà Vu sold two million copies in pre-release sales. Stephen Stills invited Neil Young, his former band-mate in Buffalo Springfield, to join the band to help beef up the group’s live sound. Accordingly Déjà Vu, recorded with a rhythm section and Young, is a more full sounding record – there are Stills’ studio constructions like the opener ‘Carry On’, but other tracks like Young’s ‘Helpless’ and David Crosby’s ‘Almost Cut My Hair’ have a live band feel.
There’s a wider range of moods captured from the acoustic despair of Stills’ ‘4+20’ and the resignation of Neil Young’s country ballad ‘Helpless’, to the upbeat rock cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’ and catchy singalong pop of Graham Nash’s ‘Our House’. Opener ‘Carry On’ is a terrific mini epic from Stills, breaking down into a fantastic a capella section mid song before launching into a jam dominated by Stills’ wah guitar. Crosby’s title track is a typically spacey and pretty effort, while ‘Almost Cut My Hair’ is paranoid and electric. While Déjà Vu lacks the consistent tone of Crosby, Stills and Nash, it’s more varied and exciting.
The group splintered after Déjà Vu; while they’d create other worthy albums together and apart, they were never as culturally relevant again.
Shortly after this album, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young also recorded the ‘Ohio’/’Find The Cost Of Freedom’ single in response to the Kent State Massacre – both tracks are among their finest.