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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Deja Vu.
In-Depth Track Commentary
This song is a great test for the quality of the vocals. If you can get through the first part of the song with little to no strain in the voices, you’re on the right track.
The bass on this track always lacks a measure of definition, but you’ll know by track three if your bass is solid enough to set the foundation this music requires to really get going. Carry On has a huge number of overdubs, so it will never have very high-resolution, but on a Hot Stamper copy like this one it can sound wonderful.
Teach Your Children
Almost Cut My Hair
One of the key test tracks we use for side one, this is the only time Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young actually sounds like a rock and roll band. According to Stephen Barncard this was recorded live in the studio. It sure sounds like it. The amount of energy the band generates on this track exceeds all the energy of the first album put together.
The reason this track presents such a tough test is that it has to be mastered perfectly in order to make you want to turn it up as loud as your stereo will play. This song is not for sipping wine and smoking cigars. It positively cries out to be played at serious volume levels on monstrously large speakers. Nothing else will do justice to the power of the band’s one and only live performance.
Listen to Neil in the left channel wailing away like a man possessed. Imagine what his grunged out guitar would sound like coming out of a stack of Marshall amps the size of Chicago. Now hold that sound in your head as you turn up the volume on your preamp. When your system starts to distort like crazy, back it off a notch and have a seat.
When you get a good copy of this album, this song sounds so rich and tubey magical you’d swear it couldn’t get any better. Huge amounts of deep bass. Acoustic guitars that ring for days. Midrange magic to die for. Unfortunately so few copies sound this way that most audiophiles have no concept of what this track really can do.
If I could indulge in some more MoFi and Half-Speed bashing for a moment, the bass “solo” at the end of this song is a great test for bass definition. The notes are relatively high, and it’s easy for them to sound blurred and wooly. The MoFi, like virtually all Half-Speed mastered records, has a problem with bass definition. If you own the MoFi, listen for how clearly defined the notes are at the end of this track. Then play any other copy, either of So Far or Deja Vu. It’s a pretty safe bet that the bass will be much more articulate. I know how bad the MoFi is in this respect. Rarely do “normal” records have bass that bad.
4 + 20
Country Girl: Whiskey Boot Hill/Down, Down, Down
Neil’s big rocker. On a Hot Stamper copy it’s out of this world. Listen to how HUGE that organ sounds — so much harmonic texture, too!
Everybody I Love You