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  • Joan
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4.6 out of 5 stars13
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This is a magnificent Joan Baez cd and one of her finest efforts. The music is glorious and her voice, well... Joan is Joan. What more need one say?

The orchestration on this recording may need getting used to, particularly if one is used to hearing Ms. Baez accompanied only by a strumming guitar. Once the listener gets used to hearing music other than that of a guitar accompanying Ms. Baez, however, the listener will fully appreciate this glorious recording. It is a rich, full bodied, musical orchestration that, at times, is replete with guitar, piano, organ, vibraphone, bass, drums, percussion, french horns, trumpets, trombones, oboes, bassoons, tambourine, harp and celesta. It is a fitting orchestration for a singer with the voice of an angel.

There is not one bad recording on this fourteen track cd. It is a wonderful blend of the traditional, the contemporary, and the political. Ms. Baez beautifully sings two beloved tunes by the late folk-minstrel Tim Hardin, "If I Were a Carpenter" (re-gendered for the recording as "If You Were a Carpenter) and "Lady Came from Baltimore". She does Tim Hardin proud with her rendition of these two songs, as she does Paul Simon with her superb version of "Dangling Conversation". I even find her rendition preferable to that by Simon and Garfunkel. Fans of The Beatles are also in for a treat with her stylized version of "Eleanor Rigby", a song that Ms. Baez, at the time, had been given to performing in concert.

Edgar Allen Poe's poem "Annabel Lee", a lamentation about the death of a young woman, put to music and sung by Ms. Baez, is absolutely haunting and one of the best tracks on this cd. Her sweet, true soprano makes its poetic beauty soar and come to life. It is an absolutely beautiful track and part of her early concert repertory. "North", a haunting poem about a search for a lost love, put to music and sung by Ms. Baez, is memorable.

In tribute to her folk roots, "The Greenwood Side" should satisfy those more traditional fans of Ms. Baez. She sings this track accompanied by her guitar. It is the Joan Baez with which many of her earliest fans are most familiar. At nearly eight minutes in length it is, by far, the longest track on the cd and simply glorious. The other tracks on this cd range between just over two minutes in length to just under five minutes. "Be Not Too Hard", written by British poet Christopher Logue and put to music by folk-rock singer, Donovan (Leitch), is also another nod to her more traditional folk roots. "Turquoise", with lyrics and music by Donovan (Leitch) is, likewise, a nod to the more traditional. So purists should find something to enjoy in this cd.

Ms. Baez sings "Saigon Bride" on this cd, one of the most moving anti-war songs of its time. This song is sure to tug at the listener's heart strings, as it is lyrically moving and melodically engaging. It is one of my favorite tracks. This cd also includes a moving English translation of "La Colombe-the Dove", a song by renowned Belgian troubadour Jacque Brel, to whom Ms. Baez pays tribute with its inclusion on this cd. As Ms. Baez was an anti-war activist, it is little wonder that this song so resonated with her, as it thematically deals with the act of the young going off to war. This is also the theme of "Child of Darkness", a song written by the late Richard Farina, talented brother-in-law to Ms. Baez, and set to a rousing martial tempo.

Moreover, this cd contains two bonus tracks. One is a folk/gospel version of Peter Seeger's "Oh, Had I a Golden Thread". It also includes the Jacques Prevert's poem, which was originally set to music by Joseph Kosma and later adapted by Johnny Mercer as "Autumn Leaves", which Ms. Baez sings in French. Both of these songs are a welcome addition to this musically rich, diverse recording, which serves to showcase the musical versatility and range of Ms. Baez. Moreover, Ms. Baez also wrote the music for "North" and "Saigon Bride".

This is, as you may have already guessed, my favorite recording by Ms. Baez, which is why, when my son lost my cd, I was heartbroken, thinking that I would be unable to replace it. Well, not only was I able to replace it, I gained two bonus tracks. It appears that this newer, 2003 release of this cd, includes two bonus tracks that were recorded during the original "Joan" recording sessions but were previously not included in its original release. Moreover, this 2003 release also contains a twelve page liner that contains ten pages of informative liner notes by Grammy-nominated music historian Arthur Levy. As the earlier release of this cd is, apparently still available, I recommend that one get the newer release, as it is a better value, despite the nominal difference in price.

This is a cd that all fans of Ms. Baez should have in their personal collection. Bravo!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2013
The first thing one noticed when seeing the new Joan Baez album, "Joan" in mid-1967 was the beautiful color cover (Shown here is a slipcase made for the CD reissue; the color cover is there beneath it). This already told you something new was going on here because Joan's albums had always been black-and-white (and her Christmas Album, Noel only barely more than sepia). And indeed there was a whole new sound for Joan here, a sound one might call artfully arranged and a selection of songs that relied more on the best contemporary songwriters of the day rather than the Child Ballads.

The period from 1965 through 1967 was one of the most incredibly creative periods of popular music ever experienced, popular music including Pop, R & B, Folk, Rock and Jazz. In fact it was a time, beginning with the merging of Folk and Rock, when all the artificially constructed walls came down between genres and everyone was picking up influences from everyone else. The overall vibe was one of total freedom for the artist to do whatever they felt was necessary for their art, a time for experimentation in all areas. The Sixties were in their full, dazzling, optimistic swing.

It is in this atmosphere that "Joan" was created. Bob Dylan had already gone one route and produced his electrified masterpieces, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde. By that point everyone in Folk knew that the folk-purist days were over and you couldn't just be the troubadour anymore. This was especially true for the major women in Folk, each of whom came up with their own experimental album: Judy Collins with In My Life, Buffy Sainte-Marie with Little Wheel Spin and Spin and Joan Baez with Joan. All three albums were successes with both critics and the public (in the limited way that sales of folk albums were compared to pop) and all three were somewhat contraversial with their fan base, who were still expecting them to remain in the "girl with a guitar".

Interestingly, none of the three went electric but instead opted for an eclectic mix of songs by young songwriters - almost all of whom became major song composers; these women all had a keen ear for talent. They also opted to change their sound by using small instrumental groups, more in the way of classical music than either Folk or Rock. Joan Baez made Joan with the producer/arranger Peter Schickele, a Julliard trained young man who had had success in creating the classical music comedy figure of P.D.Q. Bach. Their approach was to create unique arrangements for each song rather than have the same ensemble play everything. The results were stunning.

From minimal treatments with guitars and rhythm, the album retains the folk music feeling in its opening, Be Not Too Hard, and its longest piece, the murder-ghost story The Greenwood Side, but includes winds, horns and keyboards in an almost small orchestral range in its showpieces, Jacques Brel's La Colombe and Richard Farina's Children of Darkness. Some of the finest pop hits of the day were included: the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby, Simon & Garfunkel's The Dangling Conversation and Tim Hardin's If You Were a Carpenter, spotlighting how close to art-songs some areas of pop were becoming.

But the high points of the album were two of the most lovely and ethereal songs Joan ever recorded, both of which were made unforgettable by their superb arrangements. Annabel Lee opens with a combination of harp and celesta that in combination with Joan's heavenly soprano takes you away to a realm of pure magic and poetry that is chillingly transcendent. Then there is the anti-war song that ended the original album, not the usual strident, angry thing one would expect, but a delicate, gentle piece whose beauty is far more effective thnn all the angry polemics in the world.

There are two notable bonus tracks. First is a hymnlike, organ-accompanied version of Pete Seeger's Oh, Had I a Golden Thread which is perfectly fine. Then there is a unique take on Autumn Leaves which opens with full Gallic melancholy but then drifts into a gentle bossanova that is just as effective. This should have been included on the original album.

This album is a must for anyone who likes Joan Baez.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2006
I am diehard Joan Baez fan and I find this work to be one of her finest.It contains compositions by her as well as some written by others.Her angelical voice shines throughout but specifically in THe Lady Came From Baltimore and Allan Poe's Annabel Lee.The feelings of longing from a long gone love resonate in the self penned North whereas passion inundates her rendition of Paul Simon's Dangling Conversation.To sum it, a gem.
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on July 19, 2008
I've been familiar with this recording for decades. It was never a favorite of mine until now. In recent months, with some difficult personal experiences, I found myself thinking about this album until I finally purchased it on CD. I was open to its captivating beauty in a way I never was before.

This was, at the time of its original release, a big departure for Joan Baez. She had never recorded an album of contemporary music with orchestral accompaniment. Her collaborations with conductor Peter Schickele produced some of her most enigmatic recordings. As one reviewer here put it, it took some getting used to. Nat Hentoff, in an early review for the album, wrote that the material was perfect for Joan Baez, but not the accompaniment. I agreed with that assessment until now. This is a grand album musically and Joan's vocals are so beautiful. Schickele created some memorable musical arrangements that highlighted and complemented the vocals.

I suppose that I am open to what this album has to offer now because I'm feeling more introspective these days. Joan Baez's vocals run the gamut of emotional experience, and, in the words of Richard Farina, I am reminded: "Now in this age of confusion, I have need for your company."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2009
...though its more orchestration than pop.I adore Eleanor Rigby among the other hidden gems in this oft over looked album. I enjoy it, adore it and recommend it!
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on March 25, 2012
The Vanguard days were my favorites of Joan's. Listening to this work she did with Peter Schickele always takes me to other places I'd rather be, and makes connections for me in ways no other music has. The arrangements are truly perfection. That the collaboration ended when it did is a sad reflection. Maynard Solomon, Peter Schickele, and Joan came back to remaster this album in 2003, and added two other songs that I do not think fit - at all. Maybe I'm just an original die hard, with this original being my favorite of hers. I remember upon its release when, at the time, we were so into the Beatles, etc., and my older brother first put "Joan" on the turntable to introduce me to this "Joan Baez," asking me what I thought. Upon hearing her for the first time, I'll never forget the look on my brother's face while watching me as if discovering some precious metal all on his own. For me, listening to this was like opening up great literature to one so starved for it yet not knowing it even existed.
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on May 24, 2010
My review partially relates to the MP3 download as offered through Amazon. Though the sound is clear there are faint, muffled rattlings apparant on the transfer. The overall result is adaquate for casual listening but I'm prejudiced in favor of my LP recording that was purchased 1n the 1960's and still sounds perfect. The selections and arrangements were done with great care. The listener's attention is invited to drink in the sweetness of Joan's clear and unhurried voice. The efforts of the support performers results in a shimmering expression of music. This is my favorite recording by Joan Baez.
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on November 26, 2011
Joan Baez/ Joan: Joan gives her magnificent voice to songs from various writers. This is a very good recording but there is little attempt here to create an "album". It seems more like a selection of her favorite songs by other people to be given in a small concert. I like this selection, but when I think of one of these versions, I can never remember which album they came from.
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on June 17, 2012
Ah! What a beautiful, natural, lovely voice. Clear as a bell ... with nary a voice lesson.

"Saigon Bride" and "La Colombia-The Dove" are just as beautiful and poignant as when released.

A must for true Baez fans.
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on June 26, 2013
Used to have all her albums - when vinyl went the way of the Dodo - got rid of all of them - now I can get them on CD - which this format is on it's way to becoming a Dodo too.
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