All seven studio albums Ian & Sylvia recorded for Vanguard- Ian & Sylvia, Four Strong Winds, Northern Journey, Early Morning Rain, Play One More, So Much for Dreaming and Nashville -all on one 4-CD set. It was here that such now-standards as For Loving Me; Early Morning Rain; The Circle Game; Some Day Soon; Four Strong Winds , and You Were on My Mind were first heard; essential!
Of all the young lovers smitten by folk music in the '60s, Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker cut the most striking couple, and--as a couple--many of the most striking sides. Over seven Vanguard albums, recorded between 1963 and 1968, Ian & Sylvia lent their vibrato-heavy voices to traditional folk and country songs with strenuous and studied results. However, on indisputably classic Tyson tunes such as "Summer Wages" and "Four Strong Winds," and well-chosen (and, at the time, obscure) ballads by peers such as Bob Dylan
("Tomorrow Is a Long Time") and Steve Gillette
("Darcy Farrow"), their ethereal harmonies and uncluttered acoustic arrangements go a long way towards explaining the duo's popularity and influence. Hard-core fans may frown over the sole previously unreleased track (a toss off called "Je T'aime Marielle"), but they will also cherish Vanguard's sparkling remastering and packaging (a delightfully written appraisal by Colin Escott is included) of this much-needed collection. No better overview of Ian & Sylvia's art can be located. Although you won't find their best album (1970's country-rock gem Great Speckled Bird
) here, you will find a cache brimming with the strengths and weaknesses of the folk revival. --Roy Kasten