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Play Me Backwards


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Audio CD, November 12, 1996
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How do you build a narrative for a story as rich and multifaceted as the life of Joan Baez? Baez herself is not especially inclined to introspection, or to the backwards glance. Often wrongly perceived as a naïve idealist, she is, in her own distinctive way, a pragmatist to the core with her eyes fixed squarely on what’s right in front of her. As an activist, she has viewed her life ... Read more in Amazon's Joan Baez Store

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Play Me Backwards + Gone from Danger (2CD) + Day After Tomorrow
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 12, 1996)
  • Original Release Date: 1992
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Angel Records
  • ASIN: B000002UJ3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #755,292 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Play Me Backwards
2. Amsterdam
3. Isaac & Abraham
4. Stones In The Road
5. Steal Across The Border
6. I'm With You
7. I'm With You (Reprise)
8. Strange Rivers
9. Through Your Hands
10. The Dream Song
11. Edge of Glory

Editorial Reviews

Joan sings Janis Ian, Hiatt, Mary Chapin

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Mar Thivierge on January 28, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Without a record deal for over a decade, many considered Joan Baez to be a washed-up icon from another era by the early '90s. Though her influence was certainly felt -- in artists ranging from Tracy Chapman to the Indigo Girls -- she had hardly been "present" in any tangible sense (save for a benefit concert here and there and a couple of independent releases).
In planning her first major label release since 1979, Baez was faced with a nearly insurmountable task: Appear fresh and "hip" enough to attract attention of the new audiences (a good deal of which weren't even born when she released her first album), while at the same time drawing on her rich musical legacy. And to say that she accomplished both goals would be a gargantuan understatement.
The mood of PLAY ME BACKWARDS is contemporary -- with crisp ballads and uptempo acoustic rockers setting the tone -- while at the same time, graceful, honest and very much in keeping with the type of music Baez should be making at this stage of her career. She avoids the desperate attempts to be trendy and cool that other rock "legends" have made, relying instead on integrity and understated elegance.
About half of these tunes are self-penned (either on her own or in collaboration with other tunesmiths), and the rest are provided by younger composers (Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Janis Ian, John Hiatt) who openly acknowledge Baez' influence on their work. The result is a remarkably coherent and satisfying album, perhaps Joan's best work since DIAMONDS & RUST.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By William S. Rothstein on March 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD
A good CD will entertain and perhaps, even entice. A great CD will also make you think. And then there are those handful of artists who create an enchanting, magical work that takes the listener to a place they've never before been. Joan Baez has created such a piece with her CD "PLAY ME BACKWARDS". Filled with ethereal sounds and exotic beats, Ms. Baez is lightyears away from the acoustic simplicity of her early work, yet the purity and crystal clarity of her voice still eminates directly from her soul and commands center stage. Never one to shy away from controversy, this experimental piece is filled with risks, and they all pay off in the end. For instance, the title track "PLAY ME BACKWARDS" deals with religious ritual and child abuse-hardly the stuff that top 40 music is made of-and in the hands of a less skilled writer and singer, this song could have been a disaster. Instead, it is a brilliantly understated and magnificently presented work that sends shivers up the listener's spine. Juxtapose this with a gospel-inspired "I'm With You" and the CD begins to take you on an up-and-down journey of monumental proportions. Hidden in between the "big" music are tiny little gems which, upon second and third (and more) listening begin to coax you further along the journey. On "Amsterdam", a delicate love song by Janis Ian, Ms. Baez achieves exactly the right tone to bring this paper-thin song to life, and Mary-Chapin Carpenter's "Stones In The Road" is given a breath of fresh air in this wonderful rendition.Read more ›
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Nanci on February 23, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Yes, Joan still has it. In fact I enjoyed this album more than any she has made save Diamonds and Rust. While the songs still have substance, and still can fit the folk genre (if genres you must have), the rhythms & music are more complex than previous works. And on this album Joan sings, not showcases her voice, just sings. I enjoyed it greatly for this. My main attraction in picking up the CD was the song "Amsterdam" penned by Janis Ian. Other songs hold up, and I wouldn't not recommend any. Let's hear it for a singer with substance and integrity.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen J. Schmidt on May 20, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The demo disc is reason enough to buy this pricey album. It is a complete album by itself, more intimate and reflective than the album that was originally released, and many of the cuts are very beautiful. The instrumental accompaniments are spare, so you mostly hear Baez in all her glory.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Kyle TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 4, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is not a solo effort. Paul Simon, Jackson Browne helped with this collection. Baez also covered Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Stones in the Road" and Janis Ian's "Amsterdam." The meaning is complex, but the music is simple and beautiful. It's probably not the first Baez album I would buy, but definitely needs to be included in a collection of her work!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Movielovr777 on April 20, 2011
Format: Audio CD
In 1992 'Play Me Backwards' was one of Joan's first cd's to put her glorious voice to a whole new generation of folk/country/rock music composers' songs (it has since become her standard practice to champion new songwriters' works).

New rhythms, new lyrics, new subject matter to explore, and all with the exquisite sensibilities Baez has been known for for more than 50 years.

The 'Queen of Folk' reaches a new level of comfort, a new inspiration, and, I expect, a new joy in recording and performing with this splendid collection of songs that explore issues of the heart, our culture, and the human experience.

And now, with this 2-disc 'Collector's Edition', we are privy to the original demo recordings that formed the basis of the final product. It is a rare and unique opportunity to hear the creative process that goes into Baez' impeccable artistry.

Brava, Joan, for another solidly beautiful recording!
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