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4.7 out of 5 stars
If I Could Only Remember My Name
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123 of 132 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2001
. . . though his recent stuff with CPR comes darned close. But this is a longtime favorite of mine, and nothing is likely to dislodge it.
If every speck of weed were to disappear from the planet tomorrow, it would still be possible to get stoned just from this CD. (Strictly speaking, you wouldn't even have to listen to it; you could pick up a contact high just from holding it in your hand.)
But contrary to the previous beliefs of some of my generation, it's not actually necessary to use chemical aids to achieve this sort of high. The high Crosby achieves on this album is the real thing: hauntingly beautiful artistry that includes but transcends his own individual contribution, producing a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This is some of Crosby's best music, and it's not an accident that so many other names appear in the liner notes.
For this album reads like a Who's-Who of the late '60s/early '70s California music scene: Graham Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and an array of other contributors we might as well call the Grateful Airplane. And everybody pitches in _something_ without which the album wouldn't be what it is.
But the center of it all is Crosby and his own unique musical vision. And when he's at his best -- as he is here -- his songwriting is so good he sometimes doesn't need to bother with words at all (as, e.g., on "Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)"). If the first thirty seconds of "Tamalpais High (At About Three)" doesn't leave you stunned and transfixed, then you and I aren't from the same home planet -- and I don't especially want to visit yours.
(The stuff _with_ words is still timely as well -- unfortunately, because some of it was recorded in the hope of making itself irrelevant and unnecessary. "I wonder who they are / The men who really run this land / And I wonder why they run it / With such a thoughtless hand . . . " At the time, this stuff was a call to action and a cry for change. Now, thirty years on, you may find yourself shaking your head and wondering whether anything has changed after all.)
Longtime Crosby fans probably already have this CD; if not, let me just mention that the CD was remastered from the original analog recordings by the original engineer, Stephen Barncard, who did it right both times. And you'll probably remember all the cool photos (many of them by Henry Diltz); they're included.
New listeners: if you like CPR, you'll probably like this stuff too. Crosby's keen musical intelligence is sometimes less than obvious because of his understated approach, but don't underestimate it; there are few who can do it better. Terms like "groovy" and "far out" are easy to ridicule owing to their overuse, but this album is what they're supposed to mean.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
For anyone who truly appreciates the scope, verve, and power of sixties music, this CD literally says volumes. Using an eclectic and heavily electric but dreamy LA sound base, an approach that employed most of southern (and northern) California's constellation of rock legends in production, Crosby weaves a series of thoughtful, mystic, and mysterious moods with this music. From the dreamy opening bars of "Music is Love" through the fanciful strains of "Cowboy Movie" all the way to the haunting strains of "Laughing", he shows why he has so many friends in the music business. All of CSN&Y are here, appearing alone or in combinations on individual song cuts. But this is most emphatically not just another CSN&Y album. Rather, this is an unusual yet emblematic album that only someone as rarely gifted and as countercultural as Crosby could take from conception, through writing, production and performance for us. The shame is that it (the album) is one of a kind. None of his other works with Nash or CSN or CSN&Y are as striking or as unabashedly David Crosby. Buy it, spin it, and enjoy it. You'll be humming the bars to any one of a number of the instrumentals like "Orleans" for weeks.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2003
Yes, I will admit it-- a little part of me is forever stuck in the 60's (and early 70's). This album goes a very long way towards explaining why. They just don't make 'em like this anymore. This is another one of my "desert island discs", one of that handful of albums I can't imagine having to live the rest of my life without. It is absolutely brilliant. A virtual who's who of west-coast-folk-rock-60's-hippie-cool artists of the time, the roster of people who contributed to this album is mind-boggling by any standards. Everyone from Joni to Neil to Grace and Jorma to virtually the entire Grateful Dead. One of the most amazing things is that there is absolutely no grandstanding here-- all of the artists greatly contributed but none made an issue of their presence. At times it can be fun just to try to pick out the various artists as you listen. And although I'm admittedly an unabashed Dead freak, I just can't let Jerry Garcia's contributions go by without special mention. Not only can his unmistakable guitar work be heard throughout, but his pedal steel guitar on "Laughing" is indescribably beautiful. It is really hard to know where to begin in describing this album and its high points because it's all high (pun very much intended). This is truly one of the most gorgeous albums I have ever heard. And as an added plus, it is all astoundingly well recorded for the period (despite the claims of some other reviewers). Every time I hear this incredible album it makes me simultaneously happy and sad-- happy that such a masterpiece was ever recorded and that it still exists for all to hear and enjoy, and sad that the time it always takes me back to is gone forever.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2006
This album has special significance for me as it, along with the Dead's American Beauty and a couple of classical LPs acompanied me on a trip to South America at the beginning of the '70s. perhaps it was because Crosby's sailing experience oozed from the grooves (I too was at sea). This is arguably Crosby's best work (it is to me). The richly crafted harmonies, carefully woven acoustic accompaniment and general "aura" of the overall album make it a gem of the period. It is criminal that this work has been so overlooked. Although Crosby is the dominant featured performer and composer, this LP highlights the then lively communal SF music scene. Those followers of the current underground scene would identify with this. Standout guest performances include glorious Joni Mitchell vocals (along with Neil Young), earthy Garcia guitar and potent Phil Lesh bass lines. Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady also provide excellent supporting roles. I can't identify one particular track, 'cause the WHOLE album is so damn good and works so well as an organic whole. Over the years, I have found myself repeadedly coming back to this album for inspiration. Inspiration for what?...writing my own music, recapturing a feeling which oozes from these grooves and, yes, inspiring my life through just listening to the music. THIS IS '60S MUSIC OF THE HIGHEST ORDER AND IN THE BEST SENSE. Its a treasure undiscovered by many people. Discover it yourself, set back and be prepared to be touched by its magic!!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 2, 2006
Catergorically one of the greatest records out of rock, and the very best of all the various CSNY efforts, this remarkable work has been incredibly remastered and restored to deliver a sense of awe. From the smeary beginnings of "Music Is Love" through the haunting paean to Christine Hinton ,"I thought there was somebody there..." this is every bit the revolution in recording that DARK SIDE OF THE MOON & SGT PEPPER were, and in many respects, for its organic fundamentals, perhaps an even greater accomplishment. The story is well told by Stephen Barncard in the accomapnying DVD interview. He was an assistant engineer on DEJA VU, who took this opportunity, at first reluctantly, to an entirely new level, one not entirely imagined even by the protean creative genius that is Crosby. It's in the small details that make this so amazing: the blurring and phlanging of source tapes that were sonically dirty into epic western tales, the layering of polyphonic vocals that pre-date the lofty and profound works of Part, the little found sounds of setting up a recording on the fly, as it were, to capture every possible sound - a concept only Miles Davis was using at that point. In fact the collaboration between Barncard and Crosby is very much akin to the sympatico between Miles and Teo Macero. And it is just as amazing in what has been produced.

As a guitar album, it also vindicates Crosby's understated talents. Almost every note, chord and lick on this disc is by Crosby. Garcia and Lesh added pedal steel and bass, Kreutzman drums, and Joni, Slick, Nash and Young notable vocals, but all of these contributors were on a cameo basis. The main tracks all the way through were Crosby. The writing is sophisticated, the vocals incredibly powerful, and the sheer "sound" of the recording revolutionary, especially for rock. This is a high water mark in every respect.

I would encourage you to pick up the DVD audio version of this release. In 5.1, as well as in the cleaned up stereo remastering, this is stunning, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring. It wouldn't be so were the material not the measure of the task, but since it is, this is honestly one of the CDs I hope survives for generations into the future.

And the great thing, Crosby was just getting started....
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2000
Few artists generate such "love:hate" press as David Crosby - reactions based as much on his extreme personality & lifestyle as his often erratic musical output. But... the truth is that, in his early work at least, he was intimately involved in a number of records that pushed the boundaries of "folk-pop" into totally new areas.
From early 1966 to late 1967 his hand is overtly there as writer or co-writer throughout a series of highly innovative Byrds tracks including: "Eight Miles High" & "I See You" (from "Fifth Dimension"); "Why", "Renaissance Fair", "Everybody's Been Burned", "Lady Friend" & "It Happens Each Day" (from the remastered version of "Younger Than Yesterday"); and, "Draft Morning", "Tribal Gathering", "Dolphin's Smile" & "Triad" (from the remastered version of "The Notorious Byrd Brothers"). Between 1968 and 1969 he recorded two further beautifully atmospheric minor key ballads with Crosby, Stills & Nash - "Guinnevere" & "The Lee Shore" (from "Crosby, Stills & Nash" and "Carry On") - and, with "If I Could Only Remember My Name", released in 1971, he completed a five year tour-de-force of creativity with a further series of superbly arranged and delivered songs including: "Tamalpais High", "Laughing", "Traction In The Rain", "Song With No Words" & "Orleans".
Put that lot together (as someone really should) and you have a full CD's worth of highly distinctive music that fully justifies a major reputation. In the meantime the curious should start with "If I Could Only Remember My Name": the best, most satisfyingly complete example of why David Crosby's early career deserves serious attention.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 1999
I first heard this when it first came out in the early 70's...CSNY was reviberating in everyone's mind and then came this came out...The cover of the album and the title says it all...the songs TAMALPAIS HIGH AND TRACTION IN THE RAIN I can still hear in the mind's eye 29 years later... (The album was lost in one of many moves between the 70's and 80's)..I grew up listening to the Tempts,Stevie Wonder, Smokey, Classical Music, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Dave Brubeck but it was CSNY and Crosby who inspired me put down a trumpet, pick up an acoustic guitar and learn to sing... A whole generation owes this group and CN a standing ovation for creating the type music that was exactly what was needed. They crossed racial (Some african americans still know the lyrics to Suite Judy Blue Eyes) and genre barriers, being named by Down Beat magazine Best Vocal Group for 2 or 3 years in a row...For me a lot of the essence of the late 60's and early 70's will forever be caught up in CSNY's music and the essence of CSNY was Crosby....Again, for the mystic in all or some of us the album cover is an invitation to exploration and your inner ear and inner vision will be illuminated. Joseph F. Mayers
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2007
Very few albums start out flawless and continue to build on that brilliance until the last note sounds. "If I Could Only..." is so stunning and enveloping in it's vision and direction it sounds like it could been recorded over the course of one long, lazy night with the tape machines just left running. "Cowboy Movie" is both frightening and engrossing with Crosby's vocal gradually surging with agitation, fear and defiance while the Grateful Dead and co. chug along behind him riding an insistent riff off into the sunset. "Laughing" featuring some of Jerry Garcia's finest steel guitar is so great it makes me weep every time I hear it. This is the album as art, not a collection of singles or half-finished ideas, but a cohesive, full bodied work that stunningly shows the power of the first and finest instrument; the voice. PERFECT.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2001
Not many people have heard this album. It originally came out in 1971. It really showcases David Crosby as the slightly off center balladeer. This album is very spacy and dreamlike, with a celtic twist to it. No one really sounds like Crosby. He has a beautiful vocal range and a wonderful talent for sweetness, but with a psychedelic, haunting feel to it. He never sounds poppy. He is aided by multilple guest stars including Neil Young and Graham Nash. Crosby has probably never obtained the level of songwriting and musicianship that he obtained on this album. Highlights include the first cut with Neil Young, the very catchy, Music is Love and the lovely and lush, Traction In the Rain. This very well could be one of my desert Island cds, it's that good.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2007
I've always loved this album, and recently decided to add a digital copy to supplement the original LP. I went for the surround-sound version because I've enjoyed the other classic albums (Pet Sounds, Workingman's Dead) that have been remixed for 5.1. But none of them prepared me for the unbelievable experience of this one. When "Cowboy Movie" came on, I was about levitated out of my chair. I have never heard such immediacy, clarity, or power from a 5.1 mix. The sense of being in the middle of the mix is just tremendous. High praise to Stephen Barncard, both for the job he did on the original recording, and for this terrific enhancement.
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