Most helpful positive review
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ABSOLUTELY GLORIOUS...THE VOICE OF AN ANGEL...
on March 10, 2004
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!