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40 Odd Years [5 CD] Box set

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, May 3, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

40 Odd Years into an exceptionally prolific and storied career, Loudon Wainwright III is being celebrated with an aptly named career-spanning 4-CD/1-DVD box set, including a 40-page book, with an essay by renowned journalist/author David Wild and an introduction by filmmaker and box set co-producer Judd Apatow.

40 Odd Years features songs from throughout Wainwright s career, including works of brilliance such as "The Man Who Couldn t Cry" from 1973's Attempted Mustache, which Johnny Cash would record with producer Rick Rubin decades later, to the genuinely weird "Dead Skunk," which became a #16 pop hit and thus a true novelty in the Wainwright canon, to highlights from his most recent projects, including cuts from the Grammy®-winning album High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project. The 3-hour-plus DVD includes an extremely rare documentary made for Dutch television entitled One Man Guy, numerous TV appearances (for the BBC, Saturday Night Live, Austin City Limits and others), as well as previously unreleased concert performances.

The New York-born Grammy-winning songwriter has traveled a remarkable path. Discovered by Atlantic s Nesuhi Ertegun and John Hammond, Sr., the Columbia A&R man who had already signed Bob Dylan and would soon sign Bruce Springsteen, Wainwright established his literary yet utterly unpretentious take on the grand folk music tradition right from the start. He also has a parallel career as an actor, which credits include M*A*S*H, Undeclared, Jacknife, 28 Days, Big Fish, The Aviator, Elizabethtown, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. School Days
  2. I Don't Care
  3. Uptown
  4. Be Careful There's a Baby in the House
  5. Saw Your Name in the Paper
  6. Dead Skunk
  7. New Paint
  8. Drinking Song
  9. The Swimming Song
  10. Dilated to Meet You
  11. Down Drinking at the Bar
  12. The Man Who Couldn't Cry
  13. Whatever Happened to Us? [Live]
  14. Crime of Passion [Live]
  15. Kick in the Head [Live]
  16. Summer's Almost Over
  17. Just Like President Thieu
  18. Golfin' Blues
  19. The Heckler
  20. Natural Disaster
  21. Red Guitar
  22. Hollywood Hopeful
  24. The Grammy Song

Disc: 2

  1. Westchester County
  2. I'm Alright
  3. Screaming Issue
  4. Unhappy Anniversary
  5. Your Mother and I
  6. Synchronicity
  7. Hard Day on the Planet
  8. You Don't Want to Know
  9. Bill of Goods
  10. Thanksgiving
  11. Your Father's Car
  12. When I'm at Your House
  13. The Picture
  14. Men
  15. So Many Songs
  16. Tip That Waitress
  17. I'd Rather Be Lonely
  18. April Fool's Day Morn
  19. The Acid Song
  20. IWIWAL
  21. A Year
  22. Dreaming

Disc: 3

  1. So Damn Happy
  2. Primrose Hill
  3. Bein' a Dad
  4. Four Mirrors
  5. It's Love and I Hate It
  6. Christmas Morning
  7. Pretty Good Day
  8. White Winos
  9. Bed
  10. Surviving Twin
  11. The Shit Song [Live]
  12. Between [Live]
  13. My Biggest Fan
  14. When You Leave
  15. Make Your Mother Mad
  16. Daughter
  17. Grey in L.A.
  18. Muse Blues
  19. Motel Blues
  20. The Deal
  21. Rowena
  22. High Wide & Handsome

Disc: 4

  1. Weave Room Blues
  2. McSorley's
  3. Black Uncle Remus [Demo] [Demo Version]
  4. Funny Having Money
  5. The Hardy Boys at the Y
  6. Laid [Live]
  7. Outsidey [Live]
  8. That Cat
  9. Surfin' Queen [Demo] [Demo Version]
  10. Newt
  11. 4X10 [Live]
  12. Somethin' Stupid
  13. The Miles [Live]
  14. So Good So Far [Live]
  15. Big Fish
  16. No Sure Way
  17. Hey There 2nd Grader
  18. More I Cannot Wish You
  19. Florida (Lucky You)
  20. Hank and Fred [Live]
  21. Your Eyes [Demo] [Demo Version]
  22. Dead Man
  23. At the End of a Long Lonely Day

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 3, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Shout Factory
  • ASIN: B004OAPF5M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,995 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Loudon Wainwright III Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
It ain't easy to make people laugh about their troubles, and this guy's been doing it for 40 years. I've been a fan of Loudon Wainwright III since I saw him on Saturday Night Live in 1975 (the videos of those performances are included on the excellent DVD in this set, by the way). I was 13 and right away, when he sang about the United States Bicentennial madness of the day with humor and insight, I loved this guy. In between verses, his tongue stuck out, his body writhed and stomped, and his face changed every second, acting out the emotions in the lyrics with outrageous abandon. This was a guy who gave it his all, but who still managed to laugh at himself.

I got this handsome box set yesterday and just wanted to say that it's well worth it. If you're a Loudon Wainwright III fan on the fence about whether to spring some of your hard-earned dough for it, let me say that I, for one, am quite happy I took the plunge. This is a well-crafted box set. I wish they all were done this well! It's obviously a work of love. Probably just getting the release rights from all those various labels Loudon has made records for was a monumental task in itself. Thank you, SHOUT! In one month, you released the amazing Ernie Kovacs DVD set, and now this gem. Wow!

Inside, you'll find 4 CD jewel cases and a book. The first 3 CDs offer a huge selection of songs from the start of L III's career to now, culled from almost 30 different records. I'm not sure if they were remastered, or just digitally cleaned up, but these tracks sound really terrific. I hadn't expected that, and was pleasantly surprised. Each CD is about 80 minutes long, and has unique artwork that relates to that period in Wainwright's career. It's a great selection and perfectly sequenced.
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Format: Audio CD
I cannot think of anything - except perhaps Man City's next trophy and the second coming of the Messiah - that has been longer awaited than a Loudon Wainwright career retrospective. But finally this new sumptuous box set arrives, co-produced by Hollywood director Judd Apatow ('Knocked Up' etc) and with all the tracks selected by Loudon himself. It's a major document - four CDs, 3-hour DVD and booklet - and so please forgive the length of this review. LWIII fans will hopefully find some information of value here. Non-devotees will probably have already clicked off.

The DVD -
First the bad news: The DVD contributes significantly to the high launch price (44.99 on Amazon, up to 61.09 in-store if you can find one which stocks it - HMV Manchester, the UK's largest retail music store outside London, only took one copy into stock upon release). But unfortunately many of Loudon's UK fans are discovering the DVD is unplayable. Just whom exactly is responsible is unclear but the advertising/packaging is totally inadequate. A large coloured sticker on the box says "...Also includes a DVD of unreleased TV and Video Appearances" but way down at the bottom a much smaller (10x30mm) inconspicuous white sticker says "DVD Format, MTSC Region 1" - the meaning of which will be lost on most UK consumers. It all smells of a rip-off but I would be willing to bet my last cent that Loudon himself knew nothing about this PR disaster when he landed in Glasgow last weekend (6-May) to commence his 15-gig UK tour. If this had been an import - and labelled as such - then consumers would rightly be wary about the DVD format. But for a UK release to be unsuitable for UK DVD players?! Something has gone seriously wrong.
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Format: Audio CD
The singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor Loudon Wainwright III has performed for so long, written so many idiosyncratic songs that reflect their eras, and produced so much music of penetrating and endearing quality that no single compilation could adequately summarize his work. In the process of assembling this anthology, he had hundreds of songs to select from -- silly and sad, sweet and sarcastic -- so he was forced to omit many great tunes. As he writes in his "apology" (a coda to the booklet in the box), "after three or four culls it began to feel like I was engaged in a kind of self-mutilation or the drowning of kittens. I even left off a few of my own faves."

Most of Wainwright's songs are very personal and autobiographical, the product of a privileged childhood and adolescence in what was clearly a high-strung family. He was scarred by his parents' alcoholism and turbulent marriage and later by his own bitter divorce and depression, all of which he deals with in music that seems to function as a kind of public therapy. He mines his flawed relationships and personal failings for creative purposes, a painful process leavened by mordant, often hilarious wit and by the joys of being a father (his late ex-wife Kate McGarrigle and their children Rufus and Martha Wainwright are all well-known musicians). The landscape is littered with lyrics about broken hearts and sexual desperation and mortifying regret, but he also explores politics and current events, music and celebrity, and such weirdness as a dead skunk, a smashed guitar, LSD, and poop. He gives everything a cockeyed, ironic twist.
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