100 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don McLean's Wonderful Masterwork!
I was fortunate enough to see a very young and nervous Don McLean perform alone at a high school "performing artist" assembly on a wintry March afternoon in 1970, right after his debut environmentally conscious "Tapestry" album had been released, but before "American Pie" was released the next year. Anyone who saw him knew he would be a...
Published on July 8, 2000 by Barron Laycock
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars American Pie
I would not recommend purchasing this pressing! This album is one of my all time favorites and I was replacing my ancient original with this purchase and I am not impressed. The album arrived in a timely fashion, but the quality is certainly not audiophile. The pressing was not deburred and so many bits of loose vinyl were present in the jacket that I immediately threw...
Published on May 23, 2011 by lyle
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100 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don McLean's Wonderful Masterwork!,
I was fortunate enough to see a very young and nervous Don McLean perform alone at a high school "performing artist" assembly on a wintry March afternoon in 1970, right after his debut environmentally conscious "Tapestry" album had been released, but before "American Pie" was released the next year. Anyone who saw him knew he would be a superstar if that's what he wanted. Sure enough, with the release of "American Pie" he got fame with spades, and promptly retreated from that kind of public attention ever since. he has had a number of excellent albums; but has never recaptured the sort of outrageous success he achieved with this one; indeed, he seems to be singularly uninterested in anything to do with it. Instead, he has spent the last 30 years following the whimsy of his own heart and artistic sensibilities.
Yet all the brilliant talent and ability is here, folks, from the legendary title cut to "Vincent", an esoteric paean to Vincent Van Gogh, "Winterwood", a lovely love song, "Empty Chairs" and a number of others, all of which should still get FM air time but never have. By the way, I have had to chuckle over the years at all the questioning and active efforts at second-hand interpretation that has gone on regarding what the title cut is really all about. Such wondering and endless intellectual speculation really misses the point that McLean the incredibly gifted artist so singularly makes in the song itself; the music is the thing. It's the music that makes us smile. As did Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens, so to with Don McLean. Listen to what he has to say, and how artfully and wonderfully he phrases it. This is a timeless work that will always be around. Enjoy!
89 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This CD is Great For Many Reasons Other Than The Title Track,
My brother bought this album when it was first released in 1972. After many repeated listenings over the years, it's still great. Some may say that it's "been goin' in and out of style" ala Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but the fact is that American Pie never left it's audience so much as its audience left it. The fact that only one customer reviewer rated it at less than four stars is a testament of its staying power (and I might add, that reviewer falsely asserted that the full length version of the title track did not appear on this CD, which probably accounted for the low rating).
Sure "American Pie" is a rock classic and a staple of both classic rock and oldies stations everywhere, but the fact is that this album has so much more to offer. "Vincent", hardly the weak song that the Amazon.com reviewer rather stupidly portrays it to be, is a beautiful and lyrically rich tale of despair, loneliness, and disappointment. It's beautiful in it's simplicity. And many other customer reviewers have spoken eloquently about the shamefully overlooked "Sister Fatima" (which disappeared from reissues of the original vinyl LP but was restored in the CD version).
The song that moves me the most is "Empty Chairs", a wistful song of lost love and loneliness that is in my opinion the beautiful and overlooked track on this CD. Listening to it brings me to the verge of tears. For those of you fortunate enough to see Don McLean's recent PBS special "Starry Starry Night", special guest Garth Brooks performed a first-rate cover of this song.
"American Pie" withstands the test of time as a quintessential recording in the vein of many of Bob Dylan's earlier works. It deserves a place in the collection of anyone who considers his or her self to be a rock afficianado.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Pie.....An American Classic,
Undoubtedly one of the finest albums ever to be made, American Pie is a classic in every sense of the word. While the title track dominates, the other tracks are equally impressive and form a cohesive whole. Don McLean's singing is simple and pure and the instrumentation is perfect throughout.
I have had this album in several incarnations: original vinyl, the tracks of which are long worn out, the disappointing vinyl re-issue of some ten years later (Sister Fatima is not, by the way, a CD "bonus track"....it was on the original album, then was inexplicably deleted from the reissue. It is a wonderful song and I never understood the reason for its omission).
A very pleasant surprise is "Everybody Loves Me Baby," a song about "inflated ego" which has never received the attention it deserved. It is, quite simply, a lot of fun. The remaining tracks are excellent, rooted in the fine traditions of folk rock. This is one of those albums that, if the songs had been written over many years, would have been considered a greatest hits LP. As it was, Mr. McLean poured almost everything into one marvelous album.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Spirituality in Rhythm and Verse,
Don McLean's great use of rhythm and verse make this album a true treasure.
His songs remain unforgettable. His style completely distinct and seperated from his contemporaries.
Lastly, the emotion, his own emotions are captured so precisely and sweetly poetic.
It would be a shame if today's youth were not exposed to this collection of his songs.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the BEST OF THE BEST-LaLaLaLa LOVE IT!,
This album is totally underrated and to some, forgotten. It is not only a classic for the gifted Don McLean; it is a heartfelt piece of poetry that you will listen to over and over again. I find some nuance, some depth of understanding and musical beauty each time I listen.
Songs like EMPTY CHAIRS, VINCENT, and even SISTER FATIMA are poetry set to music, and life experiences that most of us can identify with.
BRAVO, DON McLEAN - You still rock after more than 30 years!
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As American as Apple Pie,
Don McLean's American Pie is one of the best albums to come out of the folk-rock movement. His tunes are meditative and solemn, his guitar work loose and neighborly. The only downfall of this album is that there are few songs that really stand out. Among those that do, however, are the title track, American Pie, a rousing, spelndid, meloncholy tribute to the 1960s, itself worth the price of the album (it is over 8 minutes long as well). Another excellent song is Vincent, a sympathetic tribute to Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. While not as long as American Pie, Vincent delivers a sad, insightful, loving look into the painter's life. The two other standouts are The Grave, a deeply moving tune about the Vietnam experience, and Babylon, a round-sung shanty that is sad and soothing. All around, these songs alone could have comprised an excellent album. If you are looking for an album of significant cultural meaning, or just some good music to listen to, check this one out. Enjoy!
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bring back the memories,
I still have the original LP!!! I love listening to McLean's on a clear sounding CD... What I like the most is that my teenager boys sing along to American Pie.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music for People with Functioning Cerebra!,
By A Customer
At the outset I feel compelled to take issue with the Amazon.com editor, Steve Gdula's, review. He calls the song "Vincent" -- how did he put it? "Comparatively weak". I disagree violently. I think "Vincent" to be superior to "American Pie" itself: not so callow of outlook--I mean, the death of Buddy Holly WAS a tragedy but it wasn't the Gotterdammerung, after all, and the temperament that would see it so is just a little bit juvenile, don't you think? (In spite of this I think it's a great song with vivid imagery and a wry wit) -- whereas "Vincent" is not only exquisitely beautiful as poetry -- nothing forced or awkward about it from a technical standpoint -- but what it says is important as well: I think that no other poem or song so poignantly captures the plight of the true artist. The refrain --"They would not listen -- they did not know how; perhaps they'll listen now", changed at the end to "They would not listen-- they're not listening still: perhaps they never will" -- is almost painfully sad, and nothing but the honest truth about the way the "general public" or the "common man" approaches Art (Capitalized!) in general. The image the song creates of an artist striving to reach people, yearning for their understanding and acceptance-- in a metaphor equating it with unrequited love -- is a brilliant and psychologically true stroke. And the bleakness of the thought that despite the beauty of his creations and the struggle and pain he underwent, most people continue insensitive to his -- or indeed, most-- Art-- is conveyed in rich and powerful imagery. Now, all the songs on this album (with the exception of "Everybody Loves Me, Baby" I must admit) are of this ilk: deep, intellectual, alienated and yet longing to connect. The feeling of not belonging and of disillusionment is strong in most of the songs ("Winterwood" and Sister Fatima" for example). Even his rendition of the one song he didn't write -- the tradional lament "Babylon" -- is excellent: he neither changes nor embellishes it, and the simplicity of his canonic treatment is perfect and moving. There is an inchoate yearning and bittersweetness to his lyrics in general, and his music matches beautifully. His performance is splendid. Music and lyrics for people with brains as well as emotions: an example where "popular music" can be at the same time the highest art. A classic album. A final note, for those who may not have known it: the song "Killing Me Softly With His Song" was written about Don McLean.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Pie + +,
Although I own the original 10-track American Pie CD, I still ordered this for the liner notes and the two bonus tracks, "Mother Nature" and "Aftermath". I understand that Don McLean intended these to be included in the original 1971 American Pie album, but they somehow got left out and only later issued in Favorites and Rarities (1992).
Every song on this CD is superb and different from its companions. The epic "American Pie" has won its due share of recognition and elicited perhaps too much commentary. The intense and poetic "Vincent", known to many as "Starry Starry Night" has rightly had its share of praise, and has been covered by Chet Atkins, Julio Iglesias, and lately Josh Groban.
However, not enough credit has been given to the other songs on this album, which range in mood from the bleak poignancy of "Empty Chairs" to the playful audacity of "Everybody Loves Me, Baby". Many a fan who became 'hooked' on McLean in their youth has spoken of identifying with the feelings in some of the songs, especially the youthful turmoil expressed in "Till Tomorrow" and "Crossroads" and the tender idealisation of the beloved in "Winterwood". The pathos of a young soldier killed in battle (reminiscent of the poems of Wilfred Owen) is captured in "The Grave", which George Michael recently covered as his protest against the war on Iraq. "Babylon", the only song not by McLean in this album, was arranged with Lee Hays of the Weavers, with words from a biblical psalm. It is captivatingly sung in parts to the accompaniment of a banjo. The last of the original ten songs, "Sister Fatima", about a spiritual healer in New York city, has a unique semi-playful charm.
Something that needs to be said about the lyrics of most of the songs here is the amount of sheer poetry they contain. This is also true of those of the bonus songs, "Mother Nature" and "Aftermath". The first, which McLean refers to as a teenage song , may not be as polished as the other love-songs in this album, but interesting in its expression of the young singer's helplessness against the hold that Mother Nature (his libido/hormones) has on him. Its primal refrain of "I want her so ba-a-d!!" is an unsublimated version of the Beatles' "I want to hold your hand", but there are more poetic descriptions of the object of his desire, like "Her beauty falls upon me in a fragrant spring-time spell". "Aftermath" the last song in the reissued album, is fascinating not just for the enigma of its meaning, but for what McLean calls its "atonal chords". The sounds seem to come from the depths of a cave, a cell, an isolated consciousness.
With all the variety and wealth in the songs, this CD is certainly worth buying. Add to those the liner notes with an introduction by Paul Grein, the McLean quotes for each of the songs, the lyrics, the McLean poem "So Long Hopalong Cassidy" (included in the inner sleeve of the original LP), and the pictures -- the whole thing becomes an attractive and historically significant package.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's still "American Pie",
For years, the character actor Bud Cort hated the movie "Harold and Maude." His bravo performance in that film overshadows every other thing he's ever done. So it is with Don McLean and "American Pie." I can understand McLean's ambivalence; even so, "American Pie" is still the greatest song of all time.
That nine-minute wonder captures the essence of the 1960s -- Buddy Holly, of course, but also gymnasium proms, the "God is dead" controversy, Lenny Bruce, the Vietnam War and the protests, the threat of nuclear annihilation, the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, Charles Manson, the Beatles and "Sergeant Pepper," Janis Joplin, even the Rolling Stones' tragic performance at Altamont Speedway. Despite McLean's protestations, the references are much too spot-on to be accidental.
"American Pie" is simply a work of genius.
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