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1. Live at Fillmore West
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2. What I Really Mean
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3. Greatest Hits
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4. The Best of Simon & Garfunkel
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5. Essential Bob Dylan
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6. Songs of a Prairie Girl
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7. Live from Austin, TX
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8. There Will Be a Light
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9. The Best of James Taylor
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10. Pink Moon
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11. Blue
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12. Revolution Starts Now
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13. The Very Best of Cat Stevens
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14. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
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15. Hits
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16. Tracy Chapman
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17. Both Sides Now
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18. The Essential Leonard Cohen
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19. Celtic Woman
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20. Hunky Dory

1. Live at Fillmore West
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Asin: B000641A2C
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 55164
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2. What I Really Mean
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Asin: B0007Y8A74
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 164
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Few songwriters are as cinematic as Robert Earl Keen. In the tradition of Keen's classic "The Road Goes on Forever" and "Merry Christmas from the Family," his eleventh album finds the Texas troubadour transforming indelible characters, vivid description, and narrative drive into movies for the ear. He delves into the surreal with "The Great Hank," a spoken-word barroom vignette that features Hank Williams in a time warp (and in drag). He turns a fable about animals into a tale as dark and twisted as film noir in "Mr. Wolf and Mama Bear," and enlists a vocal cameo from Ray Price and a serenade from Mariachi Estrella to provide the soundtrack for the droll story of cantina overindulgence in "A Border Tragedy." Even the tender title song, about the touring musician missing his wife, shows his eye for evocative detail, with one of Keen's warmest vocals to date. Produced by his bandleader/guitarist Rich Brotherton, the album's musically expansive arrangements match the ambition of the storytelling, with guest banjo from the Bad Livers' Danny Barnes, a lovely soprano sax by John Mills on the title cut, and Celtic pipes from E.J. Jones on "The Traveling Storm." Keen may well expand his audience along with his musical range, as the uptempo "The Wild Ones" could pass as a John Hiatt cut, while "Broken End of Love" has an echo of Tom Petty. --Don McLeese ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great American Songwriter, Singer and Performer
I bought this cd at a recent live show by REK that I attended and have to say this one's a good one.He performed some of the songs on the cd at the show and everyone there was very accepting, especially when he sang the Hank song.REK is one of America's treasures, a great songwriter, performer and vocalist.Get this one, you will not be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars A MUST HAVE
This is REK's finest album yet.Some instant classics that will be must plays at all of his concerts - For Love, What I Really Mean and Broken End of Love.The whole album from start to end is a winner.Buy it now!You will not want to take it out of your cd player.

5-0 out of 5 stars REK returns to form
I cant tell you how happy I was when I first listened to this CD.
REK is back in good form. good songs and good production. Highly recommend it.
This is a very happy surprise after his last 2 releases.
Gravitational Forces had BAD production and decent songs.
Farm Fresh Onions had BAD production AND Bad songs.

yeeehaahes back and Im loving it

5-0 out of 5 stars REK you did it!!!!!!!!!!!
FANTASTIC!!!! BUY THIS ALBUM!! Ever sInce Gringo Honeymoon REK has been working. Searching. Trying different things. I applaud his efforts and have always loved the music, but let me say Robert Earl Keen has finally done it. This album is fantastic. This is the first album I have listened to each track TWICE before moving on to the next song. His songwriting is superb. This CD has the old school REK that we all fell in love with but with that twist he has been working towards for nearly 10 years. He is NOT the pluck pluck yuk yuk performer that he was afraid of becoming. Superb. You just gotta buy this CD. Sit back with a cold one and enjoy. What I really mean is this possibly the best REK album yet!

5-0 out of 5 stars What I Really Mean is Buy This CD
I have been listening to an advance copy of this album for almost two months. I have played it so often that my wife wants me to leave the house. She thinks I have a weird sickness for REK music, which I probably do. That said, I can tell you that this is an amazing CD and probably the best effort of Robert's long career. I think it could be the break out album for the premier singer songwriter from Texas.

Although I liked Farm Fresh Onions, I am really a bigger fan of some of his earlier stuff. Several songs off Bigger Piece of Sky, especially Paint the Town Beige and Crazy Cowboy Dream have always been my favorite REK tunes. I still listen to Picnic often. My favorite songs on it are: Over The Waterfall, Running With The Night and 4th of July.

If you share my love for those early songs, you are really going to like What I Really Mean. The song writing is vintage REK, and the band is excellent. Rich Brotherton may be the most under rated guitar player in the world. The rhythm section is as solid (game) as always on every song. The addition of Danny Barnes on banjo adds nicely to the sound of several tracks.

My favorite cuts on the CD are the title track with its catchy sax, banjo and wonderfully descriptive lyrics. I also love Broken End of Love. Even Bob Dylan hasn't written a song that uses the word metamorphosis. I also like the last cut, Ride, with its bouncy kind of rhythm and great lyrics.My 3-year-old daughter, who is a huge REK fan, likes Ride the best, along with Mama Bear.

If you are already a fan or just curious about Robert's music, you need to buy this CD. You will not be disappointed. Buy it and tell a friend. ... Read more

3. Greatest Hits
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Asin: B00063EMJ6
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 6
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One question would be: What took him so long? After all, a contemporary like Van Morrison has sold boatloads of his single-disc best-of set to buyers wary of diving into that deep catalog without a primer to get them started. So three and a half decades into his solo career, Neil Young finally delivers his version of that most modest of albums--the pre-holiday "hits" overview. What's surprising, coming from such a proud maverick, is its conventionality. Granted, the original master mixes are a boon for fans, but otherwise, there's not much here for loyalists who quite likely already possess the original "Like a Hurricane" on a couple of albums, as well as a handful of live interpretations scanning the years. Since Young cracked the Top 10 only once (1972's "Heart of Gold"), this set is built around concert staples as "Cinnamon Girl," "Rockin' in the Free World," and "Hey, Hey, My My" rather than chart favorites. Despite Young's honorable standing as a still-vital graybeard, the disc is skewed heavily toward his early work, shortchanging some mighty productive recent years. Peripheral fans may find this set of interest, but faithful followers are better advised to investigate the DVD version, which, at least, includes videos, photos, lyrics, and Web links. --Steven Stolder ... Read more

4. The Best of Simon & Garfunkel
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Asin: B00002MZ41
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 301
Average Customer Review: 4.69 out of 5 stars
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Augmenting 1972's Greatest Hits with additional tracks, Best of... now stands as the preeminent one-disc introduction to the music of Simon & Garfunkel. Containing everything Greatest Hits offered except for the live version of "59th Street Bridge Song" (the original studio hit resurfaces here) and the incandescent "Kathy's Song," the updated retrospective boasts 20 tracks, in contrast to its predecessor's 14 selections. Added to the mix are the likes of "Hazy Shade of Winter," "The Only Living Boy in New York," "Song for the Asking," and "My Little Town," a one-off the twosome did five years after they ended their phenomenally successful partnership. Remastered from the original source tapes, Best of... also boasts far superior sound to the earlier hits collection. --Steven Stolder ... Read more

Reviews (88)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great compilation
I purchased this CD in August the day after I heard Art Garfunkel in concert at Croton Point Park. Parenthetically, I had quite a summer for great duos, having also seen the Everly brothers in concert. As the "voice" of the duo, Art gave a comprehensive retrospective of Simon & Garfunkel's greatest hits and this CD does the same. Unless your favorite song is some obscure album track, your favorite is sure to be included here. My own particular favorite is El Condor Pasa. However, I know some people who literally choke up when they hear "Sounds of Silence." Whichever Simon and Garfunkel song moves you is likely to be included here. To be sure, there is a double CD and I suppose (but don't know for sure) there's a boxed set, however, if you are looking for their top 40 hits, go no further than here. Simon & Garfunkel are very evocative for many baby boomers and I believe that those who remember the duo in their heyday will find the particular cut, on this CD, that brings a lump to their throats. This is a fine, single CD collection and I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Treat yourself to the No. 1 DUO!
DON'T FORGET GARFUNKEL! Hey, Paul Simon has had a great solo career, but you need a greatest hits album that includes Garfunkel also, for this harmony has been oft-imitated but never duplicated in such grandeur.

Garfunkel adds that extra special something that made MRS. ROBINSON, CECELIA and 59TH STREET BRIDGE SONG sing-along favorites, and revived the traditional favorite SCARBOROUGH FAIR.

Of course, Simon still gets top billing for his phenomenal singing and songwriting skills and works his solo magic on two of the album's greatest cuts, FOR EMILY WHEREVER I MAY FIND HER and BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER.

It's a real testament to the duo's tremendous appeal that a 20-song "greatest hits" CD can only marginally capture their music. Still, the selection is one that will keep old fans happy and win over a few new fans along the way. It's too bad that their inspiring cover of THE TIMES ARE A'CHANGIN' wasn't included. This album is still guaranteed to stay in your player for a long time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Collection
Here it is, the first affordable collection of Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits. All the esential hits are here. If you could never buy the box set and multi disc hit sets from them, this is perfect because only the really popular tracks are on here.
This is one of my favorite CDs out right now along with Bond's "Classified" and Mr.Deviant's "Techno Obsession" which is a mix of power rock and hard dance music to make some killer instrumentals.

5-0 out of 5 stars Do I smell spices?
These guys are the reason I've sung a mantra for twenty-five years, *every single time* I've looked at spices... and often when I walk into a kitchen, or simply walk down the street.... The mantra I sing is this: "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme" (Scarborough Fair). I don't know whether to be thankful, or get shock therapy (kidding!)!! But every time I think of spices, or walk into SF Bay Area shops that smell of spices, I sing the mantra: "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme." If Simon & Garfunkel's corporate lawyers don't mind, I'd like my gravestone to read: "Are you going to heaven's fair? Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Time." (My cemetery plot has a small patch where herbs may be planted). Anyway, S&G are a class act! During some tough times in this great country of ours, they kept their cool, they were cool, and they created some of the best songs (classiest pop songs) of an era! Kudos!

1-0 out of 5 stars Just Listen
I give this 1 star, and I have no doubt that such a rating will PO some Simon and Garfunkel fans. But just listen to my reasoning, give me a fair chance. You won't be sorry.

"I Am a Rock" is a good song, about loneliness and isolation. I listen to this myself a good bit. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is a good love song, and the conclusive proof that Art Garfunkel was by far the better singer of the two. BY FAR. But Paul Simon writes the songs and plays guitar (which he does fairly well). Aside from these songs, there is nothing at all here that I like. "Sounds of Silence" is the most popular thing here, but there is much in the way of BIG HIT all over this disc.

These guys were not really folk, or folk rock, as they are often categorized. They are a poet and a one man band (Paul Simon)(as they sing in homeward bound), and Art G. on the side, contributing as much with his singing as Paul S. does with everything else. The problem I have is that they have no feeling. Peter,Paul& Mary had the same problem-they had good songs, smooth harmonies, and this got them hits, but the real feeling, the real SOUL, is in the grittier stuff, like Bob Dylan. A good guitarist and songwriter, a bad singer and harmonica player, but he had so much heart, and it more than compensates for what he lacks. Simon and Garfunkel, Like Peter Paul & Mary, have what Dylan does/did not-fine vocal harmonies and a smooth production. But the emotional content, the RAW part, is missing. You probably love S & G, and you'll buy this. I appreciate that. All I ask is that you give Bob Dylan a chance. Buy the early folk stuff, and/or "Bringing it all Back Home" or "Highway 61". If you can't stand the thought of something as grating as Dylan, buy the first Byrds album, the one with "Mr.Tambourine Man". Just give it a chance. If you don't care about the lyrical aspect and just dig the harmonies, listen to "The Way You Look Tonight" by the Jaguars. If you still think the poet/one-man-band with his underappreciated buddy Art are better, that's cool. maybe you think I'm way off, that there's plenty of feeling here-and maybe that's because compared to what you normally listen to, this IS more emotional. But feeling in music goes much deeper than these guys ever did. I wouldn't lie to you, give Dylan and the Byrds a chance. Give the Jaguars and classic Doo-wop a chance. I can convert you, if you give me the chance.

Whether or not you take my advice, at least "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is done one hell of a lot better here than the way that bozo did it on American Idol. ... Read more

5. Essential Bob Dylan
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Asin: B000050HTO
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 305
Average Customer Review: 4.12 out of 5 stars
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Two discs of music don't exactly provide for a thorough overview of four decades of recording, particularly if the subject of the retrospective is one of the most important and prolific performers of his time. So The Essential Bob Dylan definitely skates over the leagues-deep oeuvre of Dylan, summarizing his monumental first half-dozen years in disc one and skirting over the following 34 years in disc two. Delving into Columbia's three Dylan greatest-hits packages (though curiously purging "I Want You," a genuine hit single in its day), Essential offers only a few surprises, opting for The Basement Tapes version of "Quinn the Eskimo" over the Self Portrait remake that made it onto Greatest Hits Volume II and tossing in "Things Have Changed" from the Wonder Boys soundtrack for completists. But this 30-track overview is designed with newcomers, not Dylanologists, in mind. --Steven Stolder ... Read more

Reviews (83)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not essential really...
Bob Dylan has enough essential recordings to fill 3 CDs and more. But, lets face it, in 4 decades, Bob has had his up's and down's. This collection tries to pick some recordings from all periods of Bob's recording carrer, and unfortunately, Bob has had made some lousy albums and for CD 2 they did not picked the greatest songs and included some preety average songs, to represent some periods in his recording career. I am glad they included 'dont think twice', but I miss something like 'masters of war', 'with god on our side', 'its allright ma', 'a hard rain's a gonna fall', which show a side of Dylan that this collection fails to represent. On the other side, 'quinn the eskimo' and 'I'll be your baby tonight' although are some of his greatest hits, are pretty lame songs. But overall, CD 1 is as good as it can get. CD2 sounds sometimes like a collection of B-sides: 'if not for you', 'you aint going nowhere', 'forever young', 'jokerman', 'silvio', 'not dark yet' , 'everything is broken', could have traded places with 'license to kill', 'I believe in you', 'foot of pride', 'love sick', 'series of dreams' or include more stuff from the 60's, when he really pulled all the stops and changed the face of popular music forever: 'memphis blues again', 'just like tom thumbs blues', 'to ramona', 'hatie carrol', etc.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mediocre song selection, particularly on disc 2
I can't really give this collection less than four stars, can I? Most of this music is superb, showing both the breadth and depth of Bob Dylan's talent, and the huge impact he had on popular music.

But I do believe that the compilers could have made a considerable better record than this one. Dylan's seminal "Blood On The Tracks" album is almost ignored, and the last twenty-five years of his career is (mis)represented by only six songs, most of which aren't among his best.

Sure, most of the classics are here, including "Mr Tambourine Man", "Lay Lady Lay", "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", "I Shall Be Released" and "Tangled Up In Blue", but "The Essential Bob Dylan" isn't really all that essential. If you are just starting your Dylan collection you should pick up either his two original Greatest Hits-albums, "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits" from 1966, and 1971s excellent "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits vol. 2" (the double-disc version), or his two best records of the 60s, "Bringing It All Back Home" and "Highway 61 Revisited". That'll get you started in the best possible manner. And remember - "Blood On The Tracks" is a must-have either way!

5-0 out of 5 stars bob dylan is great
this is one of the most beatiful box sets of one of the most talented singers of all times and most of his gems find a place here like times there are a changing,mr tambourine man and blowin in the wind.this is highly recommended for the first time listener who wants an overview into dylan

1-0 out of 5 stars Aw for chrissake people!!
Aw for chrissake people!! Just spent 10 or 11 bucks a pop on the newly released and remastered original albums. ITS BOB DYLAN!! There are plenty of superior album tracks on the original albums that these cuts are culled from. For example, you can't have appreciated Bob without ever having heard "Visions of Johana."

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential
The key word is essential in many ways. It was a smart move no to call it "The best of" or any of those hokey catch phrases for someone's idea of sample mix.
There is enough Dylan to satisfy just about anyone. The first hand full of songs were also made famous by other singers and you have to get over trying to compare, unless like me it has always been Dylan first. Later you get to the good songs; He may not have personally thought so, but many of the songs struck a cord with me such as "Subterranean Homesick Blues."
To understand most of theses songs it would be best to buy a biography or watch one fro A&E. However with out knowing the man behind the song they will still standout in your mind for years.

Still "The Times They Are A-Changin" ... Read more

6. Songs of a Prairie Girl
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Asin: B0007UMMHC
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1435
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Album Description

One of the most important and influential artists in contemporary music, Joni Mitchell is a legendary icon of unmatched significance. The Canadian-born star and five-time Grammy-winner has released a long string of stellar albums as emotionally powerful as they are stlistically diverse. For this latest, very personal compilation, Joni handpicked an exquisite set of music that she felt thematically spoke to her varied experiences growing up and how it shaped both her life and music. ... Read more

Reviews (7)

3-0 out of 5 stars Paprika Plains - the remix
This is the latest in a series of Joni Mitchell repackagings, and consists entirely of previously released material. However, engineers went back to the original tapes to remix the epic Paprika Plains anew. This new mix will mainly be of interest to Joniphiles and those who love this 17 plus minute opus.
I've had the opportunity to do some careful listening to the new mix of Paprika Plains on SoaPG, and to compare it to the first pressing CD (not the HDCD version).
This is only the second time an original catalog Joni song has been remixed, the first being the Big Yellow Taxi version without the doo-wop vocals from the Big Yellow Taxi Remix EP (I'm not counting the espresso/taxi remixes since those were essentially new recordings).
I consider Paprika Plains to be a religious experience. It is Joni's longest composition, and unique in it's conception. It started with 4 half hour piano improvisations recorded in LA at a time when Joni was feeling very 'in the groove' musically. These were edited to form one seven minute piece, then seven months after starting the project, she wrote a song inspired in part from a conversation with Bob Dylan, and inserted the original improv piece into the middle of this. Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter and John Guerin were added to the last section, recorded in London.
It was orchestrated by English composer Michael Gibbs who also conducted the sessions in New York.
[A little background on PP is in order. When Joni met Charles Mingus, he commented that the strings on PP went in and out of tune. Joni had been saying this all along, but no one else involved in the project could hear it. The reason given for the pitch variation is that the beginning and end piano parts were recorded seven months after the center section, and the piano had been retuned. Joni specifically refers to the edit points where the new and old pianos start and stop, where the orchestra plays over the edits, as being out of tune. I can't really hear this. See if you can-the center section "January piano" starts at 5:14, the "August piano" comes back in at 11:13 on the original PP (11:11 in the new version). I don't know if anything was digitally retuned for this new mix, or if it's even possible, given that the orchestra players would probably automatically adjust their intonation as they played to the tape.]
A couple of hard to explain oddities: One of the vocal lines, "I gotta get some air" is missing. Also, there is a pop sound at 9:56 that does not appear in the original mix.
The sonic dynamics are handled differently on this new mix. The problem (if it is one) is that, in the old mix, if you turn up the volume in order to clearly hear the first part, then when the band comes in at the end, it's REALLY loud. So the new mix makes the volume on both parts more consistant.
The old mix was fairly dry, with the vocal right up front. The new mix has more ambient space, and sounds very 3D, and the vocal is not as loud. The orchestra has dimension, and feels more unified with Joni's parts. The piano has a nice stereo spread. Joni's voice is clear and detailed, and has a reverb ambience around it. Maybe a little too much compression, robbing her voice of power during a few louder refrains. The orchestra sounds excellent, much better than the original. Strings have texture, percussion is deep and natural.Also, different orchestra mikes are emphasized, resulting in different sounds at times. My one complaint about the orchestra is where Joni sings "I dream Paprika Plains" and the orchestra hits a big crash (twice). On the original mix, especially the second hit, there is a luscious, wicked, thunderous roll looming ominously. This effect is tamer on the new mix. (Rolling Thunder may have been a literal inclusion-PP is based on a dream Joni had while on the Dylan tour of the same name. The poem written inside DJRD and reprinted in SoaPG is that dream.)
Another thing about the new mix is that it has much more low frequency information. This was not audible without a subwoofer, but it is there. You can hear the orchestra room breathing. Jaco's bass at the end is the voice of god, you can see the notes slither through the air. On the original, Guerin's drums are a bit more in your face, especially the snare. On the new one, they are more refined. The cymbals are pristine, the toms rich, and a good stereo panorama. Shorter's soprano sax is more detailed and nuanced; you can hear him squeezing and stretching the notes out of his horn. Joni's piano sound on the first and end parts is very present and crisp, a beautiful piano sound.
The piano in the center part has a darker sound, perhaps because the lid is down. This section sounds better and has a better stereo spread than the original, but still sounds markedly different than the "August" piano. You can hear the change in sound at the edit points mentioned above.
On the new mix, check out around 4:45, the recording is so clear you can hear Joni's nails clicking on the ivories.
All in all, very well done, and a great way to spend 17 plus minutes.
I don't know how much difference you would hear on a boombox, but through headphones or on a good stereo, you will.
Concerning the package, it's a digi-pak (boo). But the layout is very nice, mainly due to the B&W photos of Joni on skates, in her black crow dress, and, contrary to the seriousness of Hejira, looking playful. Thankfully no Joni self portrait this time. The sticker on the cover says "A new collection curated by Joni Mitchell. Musical Tales of Long, Cold Winters. With a Hint of Short but Glorious Summers." Art direction and design are credited to Joni Mitchell and Masaki Koike. The photos are great, and would make a good print series.

4-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful prairie...
Joni Mitchell's latest compilation of songs are very well done, especially in view of the fact that it's an homage to the land of her roots. The cold, the brittle frost are warmed by Joni's sweet sometimes harsh tales of childhood and womanhood .

"Urge for going" is a previously unreleased song ( except for the HITS album ) which beautifully explores the innocence of childhood and that feeling of first love." I had me a man in summertime. He had summer colored skin...He got the urge for going and I had to let him go". The need to leave, get out, grow up comes through very strongly. If you remember your'll know exactly what Joni is talking about. To me this song is one of the highlights.

SONGS OF A PRAIRIE GIRL has a good enough balance of old and new Joni. The theme seems to transcend time. I've never been a fan of her later voice, but somehow it works very well on this album. "Come in from the Cold" from her 1991 NIGHT RIDE HOME album, is a great example of older Joni but still remains one of her greatest songs. Another favourite of mine will always be "Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody". It's clever and sad - Joni's best song from her questionable 80's catalogue. Other favourites include the evergreen "River", "Raised on Robbery","Let the wind carry me" and "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter". I'm not sure which other songs might have made the cut to fit the album's concept but I kinda miss "Coyote" and "A Case of You".

A remarkable album by one of the greatest female singer/songwriters of all time. Not for new fans, but certainly a welcome collection to all Joni-philes. To me, next to HEJIRA, this is the new album to listen to on the road.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mitchell's Third Personally Chosen Collection
As you may know Joni Mitchell has decided a while back to stop writing and singing -sad, sad news- so since Travelogue, her album of full orchestra arrangements of many of her great songs, fans of her stunning songbook have been confined to compilations like this.
Now, the question is why would you add this album to your collection? Well, if you are relatively unfamiliar with Mitchell, or do not own much of her discography this release or the earlier"Beginning of Survival," are valuable places to go for surveying such extensive and extraordinary body of work.
In both cases, Joni has selected each of the songs included herself and, rather than doing so based on personal preferences or sentimental attachments, these anthologies were created with a certain theme in mind.
Whereas the earlier, above mentioned predecessor focus on songs that showed Ms. Mitchell's personal philosophy on the state of the world through her lifetime," Songs of a Prairie Girl reunites those songs, through the years, where she's looked back at her childhood growing up in Canada.
In that sense, this collection is quite revealing of someone's life, a diary of how a powerful and sensitive soul came to be what it is, moments of youth that may even bring to mind memories of yours. Certainly, a more interesting proposition than the typical "greatest hits" fare that merely tries to milk past successes.
Still, other than a remix of "Paprika Plains" and the beautiful "Urge for Going" which was released before on a prior anthology, there's nothing "new" here. And this fact, for someone like me who owns most of her albums, it's hardly enough to justify its purchase.
All that said, most of the selections contained here, spanning over thirty-plus years, are remarkable proof of the breadth and longevity of Mitchell's talent. Quite a feat given the praise bestowed to people who do not have half the track record and influential power of Mitchell's music.
Four stars, then, on the strength of these stunning songs, the nature of the anthology and the gorgeous packaging in which this CD is presented.
As far as the complaints some other people have expressed about Mitchell compromising of her values by releasing anthologies, I believe Joni's integrity over almost forty years of honest and intelligent songwriting outweigh any indictments. Besides, would you accuse a painter of selling his soul for mounting a retrospective of his earlier works?
So, buy it or don't buy it. Either way, celebrate a woman who gave us some of the most touching and courageous music of the last four decades.

3-0 out of 5 stars Geez Louise
What's with all the rehashing? She's written some great songs, but it's not like she has 40 albums to pick from for a thematic album ... at this rate in a few years she'll have more compilations and greatest hits than actual albums. At the very least she could dig up a high-fidelity live recording from an overlooked era.

Here we have yet ANOTHER in the long line of Joni Mitchell
compilation CD's.First there was "Hits", then "Misses",
then "Travelogue" where she reinterpreted (with a syrupy
orchestra to enhance what's left of her voice) her catalog,
then "Dreamland", then "The Beginning of Survival", and now
"Songs Of A Prairie Girl".I find it interesting that an
artist who has criticized corporate greed on many occasions
feels the need to milk her fans for yet another $15 bucks a
pop.Yes, the songs are strung together to present them in
a different context, but so what?Anyone can do that themselves.
Joni, if you're serious about retiring, then RETIRE.If you
want to release a legit boxed set with rarities, live cuts,
etc. I'm all for it.But enough of these stale repackagings
of your songs!You're using up a lot of your fans' goodwill. ... Read more

7. Live from Austin, TX
list price: $17.98
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Asin: B0007Z9R0W
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1021
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Austin City Limits tends to bring out the best in the musicians it showcases, and Richard Thompson is the sort of artist that the series reveres most. The veteran British folk-rock troubadour remains an instrumental virtuoso, a soulful singer, and a songwriter whose depth and emotional complexity rival Dylan's. This 15-song set provides neither a career-spanning retrospective nor a greatest-hits rehash, as Thompson's selection of some of his lesser-known material shows that he's incapable of writing a throwaway. The rhythm section of bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Michael Jerome gives his guitar plenty of room to maneuver on the acoustic numbers that dominate the performance before the set builds to the electrifying climax of the lacerating "She Twists the Knife Again" and the explosive "Shoot Out the Lights." On "Uninhabited Man," Thomspon combines a guitar progression that recalls the Byrds with a lyric that gives a sinister twist to the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, while the pensive, sinuous "Ghosts in the Wind" extends his exploration into the recesses of the psyche. Though Thompson's droll humor typically provides a change-of-pace respite from the dark intensity of his material, this disc edits out all the between-song patter in favor of more music. --Don McLeese

Recommended Richard Thompson Discography

Fairport Convention, Unhalfbricking

Fairport Convention, Liege & Lief

Fairport Convention, Full House

Richard & Linda Thompson, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight

Richard & Linda Thompson, Shoot Out the Lights

Hand of Kindness

... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best singer/songwriter of our time
The other day, my best friend, whose name happens to be 'Rich',
was trying to explain to me how much he liked this song, "1952 Vincent Black Lightning." I had never heard it before. Odd, considering I've been an avid Richard Thompson fan for over 30 years, since seeing Fairport during their last tour - in 1976 - before Sandy died. At any rate, Rich went on to tell me how he had found out the song was written by Richard Thompson. And he said, "Man, does that guy write everything??"

The more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that Richard Thompson has written every song with any meaning that I've heard for at least the last 15 years. From the haunting "Just The Motion," with its rocking guitar solo and suicidal edge, to the venerable "Genesis Hall" (a song RT performed at my request twice); from the wonderfully manic
"Little Blue Number", woven with an out-of-the box krummhorn accompaniment that just isn't allowed, to the intense rocker "Living On Borrowed Time," this gifted musician is neither predictable nor limited, and he gives a hell of a performance, besides!

It really doesn't get better than this. Oh, by the way, I finally got to hear "1952 Vincent Black Lightning." Kinda like Dylan -- only better!

5-0 out of 5 stars A lively, muscular sesson
I think nearly everyone has heard a Richard Thompson recording, seen him in concert, or both, so many folks may bypass "Live from Austin, TX," figuring why do I need this one? To do so would be a mistake, even for those with a stack of Mr. Thompson's CDs.

This performance, which was recorded live to tape for the "Austin City Limits" PBS show, features songs from throughout Mr. Thompson's long and steady career, some of which are not as well known as the tracks 1952 Vintage Black Lightning or Shoot Out the Lights. But throughout, Mr. Thompson brandishes his guitars like a weapon, ripping off searing solos or letting his fingers do the talking to convey emotional nuances. He is equally adroit on his vocals, conveying pain, adding a dash of humor, underscoring a turn of events with a bit of a sneer or a sustained note.

Every track has its merits and its own story, from the self-effacing Walking the Long Miles Home to the undeterred love-struck soul in Persuasion. Hearing Mr. Thompson take an image, such as the jackknifed truck in Easy There, Steady Now, and using that as metaphor for lost love makes one appreciate what a fine writer he is. The angst that builds through She Twists the Knife Again mercifully culminates into a fiery guitar finale, making one wonder if the strings are infused with magnesium.

Much of Mr. Thompson's work is as a solo artist, and while that work is enduring, hearing this collection performed with the excellent rhythm section of Danny Thompson on bass and Michael Jerome on drums is a revelation. This trio of veteran musicians never sounds at cross purposes but displays a subtle interplay equally effective with on the jazzy Al Bowling's in Heaven or the punchy rocker Crawl Back (Under My Stone).

The sound quality is excellent, but Mr. Thompson's typical onstage banter (if you have seen him live, you know what I mean) and enough of the applause has been snipped out---which I think improves the overall flow and energy of this lively, muscular session.

... Read more

8. There Will Be a Light
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Asin: B0002MPPVK
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 215
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Jam Nation hero Ben Harper tones down his lap-slide guitar flash in favor of the holy spirit for this blend of originals and gospel classics, his first full-length album with the historic singing group. They've worked together before, on the Blind Boys' excellent Higher Ground and Spirit of the Century, but here the pairing that Harper has termed "a spiritual soul movement" sounds like an outright tent-revival mission. His fevered wah-wah strutting and sweet high voice take their places in the chorus alongside the raw-throated howl of Blind Boys leader Clarence Fountain and his fellow bass George Scott, who plead for salvation like powerful old lions on "Take My Hand." The group's alto, Jimmy Carter, sails over the funky, hiccupping blues beat put down by Harper's Innocent Criminals on the classic "Satisfied Mind." The best cut may be Harper's "Picture of Jesus," a country-music-informed adventure in old-school church harmonizing with the passionate power to touch souls. --Ted Drozdowski ... Read more

9. The Best of James Taylor
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Asin: B00007IT8S
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 314
Average Customer Review: 4.24 out of 5 stars
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Any good singer can interpret a song, but it takes a stylist to make it his own. James Taylor is a stylist. This 20-track anthology obviously can't chronicle much more than the hits and high points of Taylor's career, but it nonetheless captures the artistic essence of a performer who's become a virtual synonym for "singer-songwriter" since his emergence in the late '60s. A lot of ink has been spilled ruminating about Taylor's role in soothing a '60s-burned generation, but given his own well-known demons (depression, addiction) his gentle voice often sounds like the physician wisely healing himself. His muse seems fully formed from the opening "Something in the Way She Moves," a track cut for the Beatles' Apple label in late ‘68 (and one that seems to share some symbiotic relationship with George Harrison's own classic "Something" from the period), its tone at once familiar and inviting--if ripe for a few decades of parody--as it wends its way from his seminal early '70s hits through a slate of later originals, R&B ("How Sweet It Is," "Handy Man") and pop ("Up On the Roof") covers. Tellingly, he delivers those chestnuts with an offhand confidence and illumination that makes them his own, a sense that informs even his jazz and Brazilian ("Only a Dream a Rio") flirtations. The set's newly recorded bonus cut, John Sheldon's "Bittersweet," is a pleasant pop confection that showcases Taylor's knack for being laconic and upbeat in the same breath. --Jerry McCulley ... Read more

Reviews (46)

4-0 out of 5 stars One for the JT Newbies
Couple of notes: the version of "Something In The Way She Moves" is the Apple Records version from 1969, but "Carolina In My Mind" is the 1976 re-recording. Also "Steamroller Blues" is the live 1975 cut. Among the odd surprises on this Collection are "You Can Close Your Eyes" a great album track from Mud Slide Slim, and "Golden Moments" a forgotten track from 1976's In The Pocket. This CD swallows the whole of the first Gr. Hits album, save for "Something" which is remade on the first (but not this) Hits CD. Because this is a WB Records release, 15 of the 20 songs are from JT's WB days. The Columbia years are sorely lacking. Where's "Her Town Too" or "Copperline" or "Secret O'Life" to name three. So, if you're a beginner to JT's catalog and you like what you hear on this CD then seek out his Greatest Hits Vol. 2 on Columbia Records. The one new song, "Bittersweet" is a good uptempo song that wasn't written by Taylor. There are no liner notes, except for a quick paragraph from JT. If you're a JT newbie this is for you. The rest can do with the other 2 Greatest Hits albums.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great remastering, just a few flaws...
Ok, so if you're like me, you've been waiting for a newly packaged remastered edition of JT's earlier work. All in all, this cd sounds great.. much better than the classic "James Taylor's Greatest Hits" (white cover) that's been on the shelves for such a long time. My only glitch though is that "Something In The Way She Moves" is the original version from his '68 debut, and not the recut (and better) version on the old greatest hits. The version for "Country Road" is also different, and not nearly as good. However, they did manage to include the old greatest hits version for "Carolina In My Mind" (thank God). Songs like "Up On The Roof" and "Only A Dream In Rio" are good, but not needed since they're already covered on the James Taylor Greatest Hits 2 (Columbia) release. It would have been nice to have other older tunes. The cd is great though.

5-0 out of 5 stars True talent and ability
This CD is great! The collection is perfect for any James Taylor fan.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
This CD has all my favorite James Taylor songs all in one high-quality compilation. What a great addition to any music collection! My entire family enjoys James Taylor and it is wonderful to take on roadtrips. I highly recommend this CD!

4-0 out of 5 stars easy listening
The Cd was great and it has all the songs i like although it would have been a better cd if it was a double because he's missing a lot of songs that should have been on the cd other than that it was a great cd ... Read more

10. Pink Moon
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Asin: B000025XKM
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 911
Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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Album Description

Reissue of the late British folk icon's final full-lengthalbum, released in 1972. 11 tracks. Slipcase. Island. ... Read more

Reviews (214)

5-0 out of 5 stars Raw. Dark. Inspired.
Nick Drake has been an underground hero for musicians for many years now but only recently got any real public attention because of a VW commerical. There's nothing wrong with VW using his song, it's just a shame that commercial success never happened for Nick when he was alive. He deserved the attention he has received in 1999 way back in 1970.

Nick was an incredible acoustic guitarist with a diverse fingerstyle technique with great finger-rolls and clever melodies woven throughout complex harmonies and various tunings.

Pink Moon is raw and dark but absolutely pretty at the same time --and precisely played with just one acoustic guitar and an occasional piano. His baritone voice is delivered in an often slurred and breathy haze with lyrics that convey a sense of despair and emotional nakedness. The chords in his songs will weave a Minor progression of almost hopeless despair then break into a Major bridge and rising vocal melodies that brings a hope of soaring transcendence into the light - only to have it dashed back down to the ground. Beautiful.

My favorite track is "Parasite." His guitar line brings a sense of calm and reassurance -even thorugh lyrics filled with personal inadequacy and despair. "Pink Moon" is the lead-off track that was used by VW and gave Nick life after death. If this album came out today, it would sound completely fresh and new, unlike many other folk albums from the same time. Timeless.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best of a genius
I "discovered" Nick Drake in a roundabout way, through the fiction of his fellow Brit, author Phil Rickman, who seems to have been profoundly affected by Drake's music. The only album of his that I could find in print way back then was "Way to Blue," a sort of "Best of" collection. And I thought that Pink Moon was the best of the songs. when the CD was remastered and released, I bought it,and although this phrase is trite and overused, I was blown away. I've listened to his first two albums, and read about arguments with his producer about whether or not to add the (unnecessary, IMO)horn and string sections. Nick, quite correctly, felt his music could stand alone. Why he was not successful in his lifetime, I'll never know. I don't think he was having a breakdown as he wrote and recorded "Pink Moon," I think he was finally allowing himself to speak without euphemisms or too much symbolism. It is Nick being Nick, and it is his best. Finally, you can hear his guitar clearly. Listen closely, and you'll see that he has been sadly underrated; I believe he was the best acoustic guitarist in the 20th century (no offense to Robert Johnson and Eric Clapton fans). The song "Which Will" is my favorite track from the CD; the theme of love lost and watching the beloved move on is not unusual, but what he does with it is magical. I also love "Pink Moon;" some months after hearing it, I learned that in British superstition, the sight of a pinkish or reddish full moon means that someone is going to die. Perhaps a foreshadowing of "Black-Eyed Dog"?

If you only buy one Nick Drake album, make it this one. You won't regret it.

5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite CD by my favorite musician.
This has to be the most beautiful album ever created. I have probably listened to this CD 75 times, in full, since I got it, and every time I am almost put in a trance by the beauty that is Nick Drake's music. Nick Drake uses differen't tunings for his guitar that sometimes make it sound as if a mini-orchestra is playing on his albums, but is just the sweet, melancholy tunes of a hushed voice singing out lyrics and the strings of a lone guitar slowely winding an environment of peace and serenity around your life, letting you fully relax, and see the beauty in things. I may sound like a hippy, but this is no exaggeration, you must get this CD now, and cherish it forever, for once you hear these beautiful songs your life will never be the same, it will be better.

5-0 out of 5 stars Let's get one thing straight about this record.
Its average -- heh, virtually unanimous -- rating of five here probably has something to do with this: Nick Drake died, not certainly but quite likely a suicide, about two years after its release, and in retrospect this sounds like his suicide note, whether it was or not. It also has something to do with a car commercial that came out about 26 years too late to help Nick.

And none of us should be ashamed of this.

The facts of an artist's life are an inextricable part of his work. We've known this, cherished it in fact, since the first artist put a voice into music, or drew pictures and made gestures that expressed thoughts without words. Nick Drake was one depressed dude at the end. Either he killed himself deliberately or the drugs that did it -- and they were antidepressants -- were powerful enough to do it by accident.

I got "Pink Moon" about five days ago and have played it about 35 times. The title track and the final one ("From the Morning") move me about as much as anything I've heard. Everything in between establishes a mood that could be interpreted as heavily flavored by sadness, if not dominated by depression. Even "Morning," a song of hope and uplift if ever was, is tinted by the small, haunting ache that attends the knowledge of death as an inevitable part of life. And the death that's on our minds is, unavoidably, Nick Drake's. It matters not why and how he died; it was too soon, this was his last record before it happened, and it colors -- unavoidably and rightly -- what we hear. When one knows how an artist's pain worked itself out in the artist's own life, it has an inevitable impact on how one receives the record.

I join the people who thank Volkswagen for this record. I never saw the VW ad; I don't watch TV enough to do that. But I sure read enough about it here; and I only recently found that the wonderful lavish sounds I'd been hearing as sign-on music back in the early-mid '70s on good ol' WMAL-FM were Nick's own "Bryter Later." So I can claim to be one of the fogies who Knew Him (sorta) When. But only the one piece. That and the VW ad -- what's all this about a damn ad? -- prompted one of my best album purchases ever. I'm torn -- just run back to the store where they have his other two studio releases, nine-ninety-nine the pop? Or spring for "Fruit Tree"?

Drake's first two albums are lusher, more lavish, more produced, more, well, what? optimistic. Then this one. Nick, his guitar, and a smattering of overdubbed but perfect piano. It would be interesting to have heard "Pink Moon" AFTER his first two records, instead of hearing it first. The contrast between those discs and this one is startling enough as it is. If you want to hear folk guitar played about as well as it can be, accompanied by a voice that, light and almost airy as it is, seems to triple the weight of the lyrics, Do not pass Go. Head straight to this record. If you don't have "Pink Moon" yet, and kind of wish there wasn't quite so much production on those two lovely Drake discs you do have, pick this one up. 'Cause the production is, well, not. I think it's wonderful that we got to hear not only as much of Nick Drake as we did, but as many different sides. I wouldn't want the first two records without the overdubbed strings and keyboards. This one, likewise, is perfect, just as is. Stark, painful, full of despair and full also of hope and appreciation for the beauty the artist saw in the world. It's just as in the first two records, but expressed differently and just as spot-on beautifully.

Don't feel bad that you first heard about Nick Drake from a car salesman. Carlos Santana was right: It's getting it, not how, that counts. You have the music now, is what matters. The world is beautiful and it's OK. Play "Pink Moon" again, and again. That's Nick, telling you so.

5-0 out of 5 stars Buy two copies
It is a damn good thing that this man is not alive today. His purity and ethics would have left him in an even deeper state of depression if he were to suffer the fandom his music has earned him as well as the use of his music for commerical purposes. People this sensitive are gifts to the world, but they usually implode and lack the coping mechanisms to survive in modern society. Nick was a walking open wound, a raw exposed nerve and one listen to his art will reveal this. What an amazing thing that he was open enough and talented enough to bear his soul in a way that makes us feel ours so.

The second track, "Place to Be" makes my chin quiver every time and cry most of the time I hear it, and I am not ashamed to admit it. There is something exquisite, decadent and enlightening about indulging in this artist's "dark" music. Depressing and melancholy? Yes, certainly. Beautiful, nuanced, and intimate? More so. I can say, as a heterosexual male that if I had a time machine, I would go back to 1972 and embrace this guy, tell him everything will be alright, and take him of a road trip through the wilderness. And I'd bring a tape recorder. ... Read more

11. Blue
list price: $11.98
our price: $7.99
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Asin: B000002KBU
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 441
Average Customer Review: 4.75 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan essential recording

Joni Mitchell would go on from this '71 recording to make more popular, more ambitious, and more challenging albums, but she's never made a better one. Working with minimal accompaniment (Stephen Stills and James Taylor are two of the four sidemen), the Canadian thrush summoned an involving song cycle of romance found and lost. Though Blue is an uncommonly intimate representation, it's also astonishingly open and gracious. Songs such as "All I Want," "Carey," "California," and "A Case of You" work equally well as poetry and pop music. --Steve Stolder ... Read more

Reviews (166)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Very Best
There is little to criticize on Joni Mitchell's brilliant album. (Oh, perhaps that "My Old Man" is about 40 seconds too long?) It is an almost perfect package. From the free-flying rhythms of "Carey" to the intimacy of "Little Green," Mitchell's emotional and vocal range is unsurpassed. The opener, "All I Want," immediately hints at her jazz sensibilities. Her fluid voice paints pictures, dipping and soaring through emotional draft winds.

Joni sounds like she singing directly to you. She seems unafraid of where her voice will take her, and vocal and musical risk-taking (listen to the very brief Rolling Stones-like riff on "This Flight Tonight") are incredibly rewarding. The dominant themes are longing ("Little Green, " "River"), love lost and found ("A Case of You," "All I Want") disillusionment ("The Last Time I Saw Richard") and hope ("California").

This 1971 effort is one of the finest vocal albums ever made. The restrained accompaniment is superb, with guitars by Stephen Stills, James Taylor, and Sneeky Pete, and drums by Russ Kunkel. By the way, let's make "California" the official state song.) Highly recommended, very deserving of its reputation, you simply must hear this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars a true blue classic
every song here tells a sorry, usually a sad one. even the apparently cheery 'carey'is wrought with a painful sense of resignation. the melancholic mood throughout is evoked by joni's plaintive singing, accompanied sometimes by only the piano or hushed drumming of the acoustic guitar. she's not singing to an audience, not even to herself. sometime the singing turns into a desperate wail, as in the last bars of 'the last time i saw richard',one of the most profoundly personal song ever written by joni, or anyone. joni's usual deeply felt lyrics is once again evidence of her unique ability to express an emotion with utmost economy. for 'green' the little girl who has never seen her father, there'll be 'icicles and birthday clothes, and sometimes there'll be sorrow.' life goes on but the regret of an incomplete life is real and lasting. a lover is a case of wine, it's bitter, bitter and so sweet. it's poetry that has stood 'blue' up as a landmark album by joni mitchell, and it has remained one of her best loved and most enduring.

5-0 out of 5 stars the most addicting album ever
"Just before our love got lost you said, I am as constant as a northern star, and I said, constant in the darkness,
where is that at? If you want me I'll be in the bar..." -Case of You, Blue

It takes alot for me to listen to an album over and over and over and over... and still not get sick of it.
i've had "Blue" for about 3 years and Joni still makes it into my cd player more than once every few days.
There are at least 2 songs that most passerbyers would recognize: "California" and "River", but many more to be appreciated.
This album has a beautiful balance of alternating very rich, almost sorrowful songs and whimsical upbeat songs...

"My Old Man" exhibits such simplisticly passionate poetry-
'...but when he's gone me and them lonesome blues collide; the bed's too big the frying pan's too wide...'
"All I Want" gives us an all-around bold, declarative statement that shows her desire to be a part of the grand 'adventure'/excitement that life offers through loving.
'..alive alive! I wanna get up and jive, i wanna wreck my stockings in some jukebox dive. do you want, do you want, do you want to dance with me baby? do you wanna take a chance in maybe finding some sweet romance with me...?'

With the occasional accompaniment from James Taylor and Stephen Stills, this album is worth much more than it's priced.
And as always, the mixture of Joni's voice, her beautiful piano playing, and her amazing lyrics are pure proof
that she is a true uninhibited musician... and she's still going strong.

1-0 out of 5 stars housewife mediocrity
this album might fly when the hippy flag was not yet torn to complete shreds and everyone was feeling a little blue but i'm sorry joni i just don't care about you and your songs are self-indulgent in a way that just makes me feel annoyed and further from christlove that even Prince Myshkin could ever imagine. When joni is blue i don't want to come in your kitchen. . . period.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Oh Carey, get out your cane."
There have been arguements over what was the greatest year in Rock and Roll history. Some will say 1964, others 1967, 1969, 1975, 1991, 1983, 1968, or even 1977. But for me 1971 is hands down the greatest year ever. Just look at the albums that were released:

Carole King-TAPESTY (Amazingly, won Grammy for Album of the Year)
The Rolling Stones-STICKY FINGERS
John Lennon-IMAGINE
The Altman Brothers Band-AT FILLMORE EAST

And at the heart of these remarkable landmarks was Joni Mitchell's BLUE. What she does to the songs CAREY and CALIFORNIA are truly amazing. There were a couple of X factors as to why I think '71 is the greatest ever: It was the first full year that there wasn't a song by The Beatles and it marked Rock's unsolved mystery with the mysterious demise of The Doors' Jim Morrison(Did he really fake his death in Paris to escape prison like what happened to Roman Polaski?). Could it be possible that the incident inspired Mitchell to write "Free Man in Paris" three years later? ("But for the work I've taken on/Stoking the star maker machinery/Behind the popular song) Above all, BLUE was the beginning of what made Joni Mitchell great. ... Read more

12. Revolution Starts Now
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Asin: B0002IQHV6
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 423
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Earle rushed The Revolution Starts ... Now to stores ahead of the 2004 presidential election, and given that timing and the songwriter's righteous lefty stance, the disc's topical content should surprise exactly no one. Even still, it's light on invective, allowing Earle's deftly drawn characters to make his points for him. Plainspoken people swept up by larger events, they include the truck-driving protagonist of rig-rocker "Home to Houston," who dodges rockets while running supplies in Iraq, the disaffected vet in "The Gringo's Tale," and the American soldiers and Palestinian boys whose lives run parallel in "Rich Man's War." At times, Earle is less artful, and the going gets patchy: the title cut is a guitars-blazing call to arms, but "Warrior" (a ponderous spoken-word piece that apes Shakespeare), "F the CC" (a ragged denunciation of culture cops), and "Condi, Condi" (a faux-reggae mash note to Condoleezza Rice) don't hold up as well. Interestingly, the less-pointed material finds the cantankerous crusader at his best, as on the aching Emmylou Harris duet "Comin' Around," a late-night barroom blues called "I Thought You Should Know," and the hopeful closer "The Seeker." There, Earle slips in one last, subtle message: "There's a new day tomorrow and maybe I'll hold, something brighter than gold to a seeker." --Anders Smith Lindall ... Read more

13. The Very Best of Cat Stevens
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Asin: B00004S51Y
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 767
Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan essential recording

Kicking off A&M's ambitious Cat Stevens reissue program is this 20-song introduction. The set surveys all of Stevens's stages, from the orchestrated late-1960s sides through his early-'70s peak to his more eclectic late-1970s experiments. Following the progression makes for an interesting endeavor as Stevens learns to harness his ambitious ideas with arrangements that don't obscure his rhapsodic messages. Few artists of his generation were more gifted when it came to plucking timeless melodies out of thin air, and his sumptuous voice was always able to movingly convey his bittersweet lyrics. As a career overview (including one previously unreleased cut) this set achieves its goal, hitting all of the chart successes along the way and basically defining his role as a sensitive '70s singer-songwriter, but some fans may opt for the classic early-'70s studio records, which find Stevens at his most consistently touching. --Marc Greilsamer ... Read more

Reviews (78)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection!
Cat Stevens came out of the U.K. in the early 70's with the very rare talent of writing great and meaningful lyrics with beautiful music. This collection starts off with some of his early work that earned him fans in Britain and includes "The First Cut is the Deepest" an eventual smash hit bt Rod Stewart. It's interesting to follow the evolution of his art as he gains international star status. His U.S. debut album, Tea for the Tillerman, begins to show his ability to put his heart into his lyrics. Songs such as "Where do the Children Play" (questioning what price we pay for progress) and Father and Son (a song about the different paths fathers and sons travel) demonstrate a deep passion for life. As his music progresses through his other albums he continues to explore the world and relationships while searching for his own path. "Morning has Broken" is a hymm he found in a religous section of a bookstore that he arrainged and recorded. Moonshadow is nice and catchy, if not a little morbid. Also his last album really demostrates his final conversion and the sense of awareness and acceptance he found within. If you only buy 1 Cat Stevens CD, this is it!

5-0 out of 5 stars The 5th Time's The Charm
It is impossible to compile a single-disc greatest-hits compilation for Cat Stevens that will come close to satisfying all of his admirers. The Very Best of Cat Stevens is the fifth major attempt to do so and, like its predecessors, it is challenged by its subject's success.

Stevens was practically a permanent resident of the British and American pop charts from his debut as a teen star in 1966 until the late '70s when his conversion to Islam prompted him to abandon his music career. Add to the hit singles the many enormously popular album tracks and it becomes extremely difficult to identify the "very best" 20 songs.

The first Greatest Hits was released in 1975, too early to include material from the last three albums. It also ignored the early pop albums, excluding catchy hits like "Matthew & Son" and "Lady D'Arbanville." The second volume was dominated by weaker album tracks from the late albums. The Stevens edition of the A&M Classics series suffered from some peculiar song choices ("New York Times"?) and it, too, ignored the early albums. Remember Cat Stevens - The Ultimate Collection is the longest of the five (24 tracks) and may be the most comprehensive.

But The Very Best of Cat Stevens, released just a year later, has several advantages that make it more appealing. To begin with, it is the only compilation to sequence chronologically songs from every one of Stevens' albums, including the experimental Foreigner. It also contains the delightful folk creed "The Wind," which was a glaring omission from the so-called Ultimate Collection.

Most significantly, it contains the previously unreleased "I've Got a Thing About Seeing My Grandson Grow Old." Stevens recorded a demo of the song during the Mona Bone Jakon sessions in 1970, but it never saw the light of day until it was remixed for this collection.

Perhaps this was because it was considered too eccentric for public consumption, straddling the line between the hook-rich pop of Stevens' '60s records and the groundbreaking folk-rock of his '70s efforts. If so, the public was vastly underestimated. The song is a buried treasure that fits in perfectly in the company of Stevens' best work.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is the one your collection needs.
I consider this the most dope collection of Cat Stevens (in a single CD form). It has the most prolific of his songs from "The First Cut is the Deepest" and "Another Saturday Night". But it also has the most Treasured Cat Stevens song ever (by my opinion). If you Don't have "Morning has Broken" do yourself a favor even if you have to bust out an illegal download. This song actually started out as a church hymn, but stands alone as no other song does. Powerful and emotional, you can almost feel the lyrics hit you. Buy this CD.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Cat Stevens Collection...
There are other "best of Cat Stevens" collections out there, but this is the one to buy. It is the only one that I know of which features The First Cut is the Deepest (my primary reason for buying it). It is a fairly comprehensive overview of his career from earliest onwards. All of his "greatest hits" really are included.

5-0 out of 5 stars A New Fan
I wasn't very familiar with the work of Cat Stevens when I purchased this album. The extent of my exposure to his music was "Wild World" and "Father and Son". Well, since I bought this CD last year, I have become hooked. I have this playing in the background on a regular basis these days. Every song on here is a quality piece of work and the meaning behind the lyrics is more meanful than most of what you hear on the radio today. His voice just makes the songs perfect and they aren't the same if he's not singing them. ... Read more

14. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
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Asin: B000007Q8J
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Sales Rank: 947
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Six years in the making, Car Wheels somehow lives up to its lofty expectations because of Williams's direct songwriting and her wonderfully unaffected vocals. With assistance from cohorts such as Steve Earle, Williams uses the acoustic accents of Dobros, mandolins, slide guitars, and accordions to add color to her grooves, whispers, and rumbles. Her lyrics are undisguised as she presents to us the travelogue of her memory. We can't wait for 2004! --Marc Greilsamer ... Read more

Reviews (247)

2-0 out of 5 stars Two great songs, lots of lousy filler
This album contains perhaps the broadest range in music in recent memory, ranging from fantastic to unbearable slop. "Can't let go" and "Joy" are excellent songs and since this is not a one-hit wonder cd, you probably won't go too wrong buying it just for those two songs, which are great hard driving blues songs with nifty slide guitar work. However, the bulk of the rest of the album is incomprehensibly boring, slow, dreary country pop. This album is a prime example of why so many women musicians fail to live up to their real potential: instead of devoting a whole album to her strengths - as a blues guitarist and singer with the ability to really belt some tunes - Lucinda Williams spends most of the album playing silly folk-country-pop like dozens of other currently trendy female artists, essentially sounding like a Jewel single played at 33 rpm instead of 45. If Williams had the guts to try to rock, instead of settling for pop mediocrity, she would be one of the best acts around.

4-0 out of 5 stars Superb--soulful with an understanding of human frailities.
This is truly a very good CD by a great artist. Her voice and her music are both unique, but with roots in well recognized folk, rock and blues genres. She sings a Louiana version of folk and blues with a voice that sometimes has to stretch and strain. Her music doesn't fit easliy into predescribed categories. Sometimes it's quiet, sometimes its loud. Sometimes its blusy and sometimes it's just plain "folk". Usually its a blend. If you want sharp crisp Madison Avenue packaged lyrics that fit perfectly into tight little melodies, this is NOT your CD. Her music and lyrics are often rough around the edges. But if you've ever left or lost a lover, ever felt "lost" or even "found", and like --or hate-- the emotions those memories recall, or if you have a soul that understands the human journey through life, you'll like this CD. For example, the lyrics in "Lake Charles" don't rhyme, don't alwys fit exacly into the music, and are sung by Lucinda in a voice that sounds like Janis Joplin in a quiet mood. But this haunting and tender song about a dead lover/friend also invokes the feeling that the singer has come to grips with the loss as well, and teaches more about remembering your loss and letting it go than any other song I've ever heard. The chorus of "Did an angel whisper in your ear? Hold you close, and take away your fear, in that long last moment?"still affects me, in a way I don't understand, whenever I hear it. Maybe it reminds me that someday I'll face a "long, last moment", too. This is the first Lucinda Williams CD I've listened to. I gave the CD 4 stars simply because the CD tells me that this is an artist capable of even greater heights. If you want to know my tastes in music, they're probably not much help. I was raised on rock n' roll with an emphasis on the Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen--but I always had a collection of quieter folk music lying around, too --Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Bob Dylan. Springsteen's quieter releases--"The Ballad of Tom Joad" and "Nebraska" remain my 2 favorites of his CD's. Today I listen to just about anything--Frank Sinatra, Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline, Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen being my mainstays. These singers and their music have very little in common--except that each can evoke some facet of the human condition and put it into words and music. Lucina Williams is the same.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lucinda's Got It All
Trying to find the words to praise this album is difficult. It is without a doubt one of my top 5 albums. Her lyrics show her soul and sometimes my own. One has to wonder about the life she's lead when one listens to her music. Much pain and much happiness! Contradiction...I think if you had to describe her music...that would be the word. She is bar none one of the greatest songwriters of our time...and her concerts are not to be missed!

5-0 out of 5 stars Lucinda Wms
Awsome Vocals Catchy Tunes The Female Bob Dylan In A
Singer/Songwriter Kinda Way She Jams

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best albums ever
I had a few Lucinda Williams albums, including "World Without Tears", before I finally bought "Car Wheels".

I was totally unprepared for the perfection of this work.

If these lyrics don't move you, if the music doesn't get your foot tapping, then you must be dead. I guarantee that three listens to this collection and you'll have at least one of the songs stuck looping in your head, but it is impossible to say which song, because all are nearly perfect. And the title track may just be as close to a perfect transference of a feeling from a song that I've ever experienced. This isn't country, folk, rock or blues, this is m-u-s-i-c at its finest.

The listener and critical reviews for "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road", here or on any other site or forum, show this to be perhaps the most consistently well-loved album in history. To the few who gave it two or three stars, I'll communicate with you at your level: Duh. ... Read more

15. Hits
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Asin: B000002N9Z
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 707
Average Customer Review: 4.56 out of 5 stars
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She's only had four bona fide Top-40 American hits, and one was a Miles of Aisles live version of "Big Yellow Taxi" that's not included here. But after almost 30 years, she's finally delivered a 15-song compilation of her signature songs that will be a CD point-of-departure for casual fans and newcomers well into the new millennium. The companion Misses volume is an intriguing curio that might rather more generously have been marketed as a bonus disc. --Jeff Bateman ... Read more

Reviews (48)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great compilation CD
I was not a Joni Mitchell fan when I bought this CD. I heard "Circle Game" in of all places, the grocery store, and asked my friend who sang it. I have always like folk-type music and I loved the lyrics of Circle Game. So, I decided to get "Hits" and check out the other songs. Her voice is beautiful, esp. on "The River" (which is probably my favorite song on the album). I loved singing her songs to my son when he was a baby...there is something so earthy and soothing about them. Very poignant. I like this CD a lot.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Well Chosen Anthology
As single discs Best Of albums go, Joni Mitchell's "Hits" is very well done, collecting 15 of the best and most well known songs of Mitchell's long career. Mitchell is primarily known as a folk singer, but she's always had a rock and roll heart as she shows most particularly on "Big Yellow Taxi" (recently remade to excellent effect by The Counting Crows), the tropical paradise evoking "Carey" and the sweet love song "Help Me" that was one of her biggest hits.

On the folkier side of things, there is the standard "Both Sides Now," which for my money is more tuneful and superior to Judy Collins's hit version of the song. "Woodstock" is a postcard from another era, while the childhood memory-evoking "The Circle Game" is as poigniant as it is sweet. The collection gets a bonus star for including Mitchell's 1991 "comeback" tune "Come in from the Cold," which evokes the strain of being a flower child at heart growing up in the McCarthy-ite 1950s. The CD booklet is also excellent, containing a full lyrics sheet.

Overall, an outstanding single disc anthology album from an important American popular music artist.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Blonde In The Bleachers
joni is the blonde in the bleachers to graham nash..that interesting circle of talented artists that hung around laurel canyon....sharing and inspiring the great american music that followed the Byrds breakthrough...joni was one of the matriarchs, along with cass elliot, of that important movement...its repeated, crosby stills and nash sang their first official harmonies together at joni's house...and joni could easily hang with the boys...she could write and chord with the best of this "Hits" album to sample joni, understanding you omit so much when you deny yourself the opportunity to play her stand alone albums and grow your mitchell ear organically...joni said recently "once people awaited me like the rain,now the janitors of shadowland flick their brooms at me",...quite a journey,no,yes...?? however,to "get joni" you really ought to go back to the beginning and play the olde stuff....follow the incredible anthology of this chain smoking,smart,hip,golden girl...though joni wrote woodstock,her agent denied her the opportunity to actually be there because of time constraints of a concert committment that weekend...all in all "Hits" is just a shortcut to meaningful understanding of joni and her music...better than nothing....but you owe yourself the experience of getting back to the roots of this artists prolific body of this cd first if you must, and then graduate to Clouds,Blue,For the Roses,Court and Hemingway,you cant appreciate The Old Man And The Sea...without first reading A Farewell To Arms...this cd though,is just a swatch of joni's body of work.. better perhaps than no beginning at all...listen to joni's rendition of chinese cafe/unchained melody,an old righteous brothers hit at your earlist convenience..."the blonde in the bleachers,she flips her hair for you...she tapes her regrets to the microphone stand..she says you cant hold the hand of a rock and roll man,very long"...i submit youll hold the hand of this rock and roll lady for a very long time...without regrets...

5-0 out of 5 stars hippie flowerchild Joni Mitchell's Hits
I love this album. It has many of her early and best songs. I listened to it constantly when I first got it. Several of the songs gave me just the most incredible inner spiritual experience of delight, that almost otherworldly feeling you get when you're deeply moved or stimulated by a work of art, be it a painting, a book, or a piece of music. If you get this "Hits" album, don't lend it to a friend. I did, and never got it back :)

David Rehak
author of "A Young Girl's Crimes"

5-0 out of 5 stars New Joni Fan
Ok, so i wasn't around in the late-60's and early-70's when Joni Mitchell came onto the scene. So I obviously missed this music the first time around. I've always been a fan of the singer songwriters of this era such as Carole King, Carly Simon, and Elton John, but seemed to overlook Joni Mitchell *big mistake.* I got this for Christmas and enjoy it very much. I'm a teenager so I'm not very knowledgable about this type of music, but I love Joni Mitchell's voice and songwriting style. True, she only had four top 40 hits, her biggest being the top 10 hit "Help Me" yet she has managed to be one of the most influential women in music. My favorites are "The Circle Game", "Help Me", "Come In From the Cold", "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Both Sides Now."

This collection definitely made me a fan and has intrigued me to check out her muisic catolgue furthur. :) ... Read more

16. Tracy Chapman
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Asin: B000002H5I
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2045
Average Customer Review: 4.74 out of 5 stars
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One of the most striking debut albums ever released, this disc instantlyestablished Chapman as a musical force, and with good reason. Immediacy, integrity ofpurpose, and unqualified artistry are apparent in nearly every song. And while "Fast Cars"remains Chapman's best-known work, "Talkin' Bout a Revolution" is that rarest breed: asong which is both topical and timeless. Any exploration into Chapman's work shouldbegin with this at times stunning effort; it's a disc of remarkable uniformity and claritythat Chapman has yet to improve on. --Wayne Pernu ... Read more

Reviews (73)

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolute perfection
I genuinely don't think this disk could be any better. There is not a single song on here that isn't a work of art. I owned this on tape initially, but I had to get the CD because the tape was getting worn out, because I listened to it constantly - particulary to Baby Can I Hold You, Why, and Talking About A Revolution.

Chapman's voice is stunning, particularly on the a capella Behind The Wall, which never ceases to bring a chill down my spine. I always thought I didn't like folk music, but Chapman has made me reconsider that belief. Her lyrics are meaningful, and the collection of songs come together to form an overall feel, a mood, that is extremely moving and empowering. She exemplifies how music can bring people together and be an impetus to change, ala the greats like Bob Dylan. Make no mistake -- this is a political album and Chapman wears her left wing leanings like a badge of honour. If you can't tolerate her political views, you probably won't like the album as much as her core fans. That said, her voice and the music itself may make it possible for you to give it at least an intial listen. Chapman is more than a singer and musician - she's a poet, and her message is one that I believe we all need to heed.

I highly reccommend this album to everyone. Even if you don't agree with her politics, hopefully she'll make you think. At the very least, you'll be listening to one of the purest, best voices in modern folk/r&b/soul around today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tracy tingles your soul with her lyrics & voice
Tracy Chapman's first album "Tracy Chapman" shows depth & bredth of an artist with at least 20 years more maturity and experience. The lyrics to her songs are deceptively simple yet manage to touch deep social issues and provoke contemplations on your world-outlooks. The songs "Talkin' Bout A Revolution" and "Fast Car" were her big breakout hits, but the entire album is stellar. A special standout is her chilling acapella " Behind The Wall"--if that doesn't wound you to the core, then turn in your membership card to the human race!

5-0 out of 5 stars Time to call it a classic
I think enough time has gone by that this album should finally be called a classic.

With a voice this expressive, lyrics this blunt, and a musical sensibility this exciting and haunting ... Tracy Chapman deserves legendary status for this album alone -- even though she's made more good ones since.

Hard to imagine anyone going through teenaged years without lying in bed and listening to this at least once or twice. It's gritty and honest -- brutal, yet strangely comforting all at once. Made a whole generation want to buy guitars and make up their own songs!

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the essential albums of the 80's!
Winner of 3 Grammys in 1988 for Best New Artist (one of the few winners that were the best of their years), Pop Female performance (Fast Car), and Folk Album. It was also nominated for Album of the Year, and Best Song & Record. I was shocked to find out that she lost Best Song to Bobby McFerrin for "Don't Worry, Be Happy". While I remember McFerrin's song, it has not aged well. But "Fast Car" still sounds relevant, with its telling lyrics about people who reach for a better life. A theme in her album is a cry to the lowly to try to rise above their conditions. While she doesn't give an answer how, she gives words of encouragement to let others know that there is hope.
On this album a lot of musical genre influences can be heard. You can hear things from Pop (Fast Car) to Reggae (She's Got Her Ticket). This was labeled as Folk music but it has such a blend of styles that you really can't categorize it. It's a great album and is mentioned many times when people talk of great debuts and great albums of the 80's.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unparalleled
After almost 16 years and over 7 million copies of this album sold, each of these songs still bears an importance to just about anyone who is willing to listen carefully. Tracy Chapman tells stories, sometimes entertaining, always emotional, through her songs. Whether she is singing acapella or with accompaniment, her voice, lyrics, tone, and just about every facet of her tracks are inspiringly unique. Tracy Chapman is without imitation or contenders, for this album is truly without flaws. Besides being a work of art, it is excellent listening as well. ... Read more

17. Both Sides Now
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Sales Rank: 469
Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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Joni Mitchell has long dabbled in the jazz world, forging alliances with the likes of Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, and Wayne Shorter, while incorporating elements of fusion into her more intrepid recordings. Both Sides Now, however, comes at jazz from a different angle than the experimental likes of Mingus and The Hissing of Summer Lawns. Here is Joni the chanteuse, tackling smoky standards such as "At Last," "Sometimes I'm Happy," and "Stormy Weather" in the embrace of lush pop arrangements that owe a debt to Nelson Riddle and Gordon Jenkins, though some stray over the line from stately into staid. The focus here is on Mitchell the vocalist, and she displays a real commitment to the music. She has the chops and the smarts to tackle these staples, but at times she seems intimidated by their illustrious pedigrees. Two of Mitchell's own songs are revived here--"A Case of You" and the title track. The results are mixed: the former takes on a new weight while the latter seems adolescent in such mature company. Ultimately, Both Sides Now is more a valentine to classic pop by a woman who can--and should--be off making more touchstones of her own. --Steven Stolder ... Read more

Reviews (128)

5-0 out of 5 stars Joni is Perrenial
Here Miss Mitchell combines her love of colour in art with her whiskey coloured voice. The nuance is particularly heart felt.The songs seem tinged with pain, and poetry. The echoes of Billie Holiday( Lady in Satin) are pronounced and reverant.If ever Joni has made an effort to send someone a love letter it is to Holiday in her phrasing and smokey vocals. Her Canadian American directness is a metaphor to her artworks included within the cd cover. There is a Hopper-esque lonely solitude that pulls one into a vintage American sensibility. The cd is one that grows on you and penetrates the heart with every layer of listening. A superb rendition of "A Case of You", reminds us that Joni is a classic writer, as well as performer.This cd could have been called "The four seasons of Love".Like Leonard Cohen she sits perfectly with those that enjoy their personal torments and share the depth of the human condition with their listeners.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Logical and Lovely Step for Joni Mitchell
Given Joni Mitchell's established success with nearly every other genre of pop music and her own World War II era childhood, it is only logical that she would reach back to mid-century American popular standards to craft her own millenium collection, a superior work that is likely one of the last few of her outstanding career. And it couldn't be much prettier - the lush orchestration complements the seasoned singing of an older-and-wiser Joni. A couple of these standards might have been better interpreted without the strings, with just a jazz quintet or quartet. But on the whole, Mitchell and crew deliver a smart, sultry, sometimes sad, and sometimes sassy set, worthy of inclusion on 2000's year's best list. Joni's smoke-burnished voice is well-suited for these romantic gems. Highlights include the richly vocaled At Last (even the usually caustic David Letterman called this one 'beautiful'), the Sinatra-esque Comes Love, and a re-interpretation of Mitchell's heartbreaking classic, A Case of You. As a long-time Joni fan who has followed her carefully through an ongoing musical metamorphosis, I'll rate Both Sides Now at five stars and include it among her classics. Reviews on this site indicate this is a love-it or hate-it CD. I say it's a safe bet for tried-and-true Joni fans or nearly anyone who appreciates quality, complex pop music.

1-0 out of 5 stars Both Sides Now -She sings like the CD picture looks POOR
I can't believe this is Joni ... a poor attempt. Nothing like Joni ... I guess she needs the money. I was ripped-off on this one

5-0 out of 5 stars Joni enters a mature, new era
I have to admit, I'm one of those people who have listened to "Court And Spark," "Blue" and the like for years, never getting into some of those experimental albums some fans seem to adore. But this album is Joni in a very new place. Like Billie Holiday (whose "You've Changed" she covers), Joni has reworked the music to fit the changes in her voice over the course of decades. Don't excpect the old stuff here-- you won't even recognize her voice. But this is a sultry, smoke-filled, fragile, absolutely magnificent Joni. This album rightfully can not be considered among her others, although like Bowie, she has always been a chameleon. But this... this stuff is jazzy, raw, sensitive, so very much like the later Billie Holiday it's amazing. The fact that she covers two of her own songs ("A Case Of You" and the title track) shows how she, and her music, have matured. If this is Joni's new style, she could easily do an Ella Fitzgerald-style collection of songbooks; her work is that good. Congratulations, Joni. You've done it yet again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Collection
This is a wonderful retro album. I am only sorry it took me until 2003 to discover it. This is an album for lovers. Time to pour a glass of wine, cuddle up with the one you love and enjoy a romantic evening with Joni and her fantastic vocals backed by some creative orchestration. ... Read more

18. The Essential Leonard Cohen
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Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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This two-disc retrospective traces the Canadian bard's musical maturity from poet and novelist who sang a little to multidimensional artist whose oracular vocals and increasingly rich arrangements are every bit as compelling as his verse. Even when Cohen came to prominence through the 1960s songcraft of "Suzanne" and "Bird on a Wire," the "folksinger" tag never really fit. Later highlights ranging from the deadpan drollery of "Tower of Song" and "Everybody Knows" to the apocalyptic anthemry of "First We Take Manhattan" and "Democracy" suggest that other labels might be more appropriate: cabaret surrealist, spiritual gadfly, sensual prophet, agent provocateur. Cohen chose the selections, drawing more than half of the 31 tracks from three landmark albums--his 1967 debut Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1988's I'm Your Man, and 1992's The Future--along with four from 2001's Ten New Songs. The collection justifies its title as deep as it goes, though it's a shame that Cohen's commercial profile couldn't justify the more elaborate box set his artistry warrants (one that would at least include lyrics and musician credits). Those who sample the consistently inspired music here might come to the conclusion that everything Cohen records is essential. --Don McLeese ... Read more

Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars Is There Such a Thing as Non-Essential Leonard Cohen?
LC, I'm your fan. Have been since I first heard Suzanne going on four decades ago. I used to sing it walking down Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley; it was a phenomenal song then and it still is. This 31 song double CD covers Cohen's career from Suzanne taking your hand and leading to the river to Alexandra leaving with her lord. There is nothing that should not be on this collection, unlike many so-called Essential collections when there is almost always one or more "what the heck is THAT song doing here" moment. My only complaint is that it could easily have had 7 or 8 more cuts; Songs from a Room is badly underrepresented -- where is the unbelievably sad Seems So Long Ago, Nancy and the Hours-like Tonight Will Be Fine, with its lyric that captured Cohen then and does now as well, "I choose the rooms I live in with care/the windows are small and the walls almost bare?" And while I'm mighty happy to have Cohen's version of Famous Blue Raincoat, why not his definitive Joan of Arc? Oh, well, enough carping. Those who have most or all of Cohen's work may not need this -- although popped into the CD player it is a magnificant overview of how consistently strong his work has been for decades, none of the Dylan peaks and valleys. But for those who have only a couple of the albums or are looking to get introduced, this CD is definitive and, oh, yes, essential.

5-0 out of 5 stars essential Cohen
From such early classics as "Suzanne" and "Sisters of Mercy" to such recent gems as "Democracy" and "Leaving Alexandra," Leonard Cohen has been a consistently stunning songwriter and the best of all the song-writing poets. His singing is perhaps an acquired taste - some love it and some hate it - but it complements the songs.

Any Cohen fan will argue with some of the choices here - the albums _Recent Songs_ and _Death of a Ladies Man_, in particular, are underrepresented, and the classic "Joan of Arc" is left off - but every song is poetic and thought provoking. Listening to this CD has renewed my interest in some songs that I hadn't noticed much before, such as "Night Comes On" and "Everybody Knows."

This CD is a major release by an important artist. Cohen's songs will be remembered long after 98% of our contemporary pop music is forgotten.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Essential Leonard Cohen [LIMITED EDITION] [ORIGINAL RECO
The Essential Leonard Cohen [LIMITED EDITION] [ORIGINAL RECORDING REMASTERED]~ Leonard Cohen is an amazing collection of cohens awesome tallent for lyric writing and his scrappy but loveable vocals. He is a serious man: yet it is never pretentious or boring. Which often happens with other vocalists of his God given tallent.

5-0 out of 5 stars cheatin' and stuff
Leonard Cohen is the one man I would cheat on my husband with. Yes, ma'am.

5-0 out of 5 stars Potrait of An Artist As Both A Sage and Sinner
The beauty of Leonard Cohen is he has always followed his own eccentric path and I see no duality between Cohen, the young romantic rake who ages into the embittered sensualist. It was always clear that Field Commander L. Cohen was going to dance us to the end of love, regardless of the consequences. Wheter it's the young revolutionary partisan, or the world weary cynic railing against the excesses of "democracy", Cohen has never been satisfied with the political or moral status quo. His career is based on dissatisfaction with the things as they are. For Cohen, redemption is impossible without wallowing in the mire. I can't imagine living the last 35 years of my life without the music of L. Cohen. It is the autobiography of a man unafraid to be both master and slave to desire. There is no contradiction between Cohen the folk singer and Cohen the post-modern electronic poet, just as it's difficult to draw distinctions between Dylan the folk singer and Dylan the rock and roll star. Two sides of the same man that coexist as complimentary halves of the same man.

Cohen may well be the most poetic songwriter of his generation. Well before he ever released "Songs of Leonard Cohen", he was a published poet and a literary icon in Canada. His more recent appeal among younger Bohemians for his existential honesty, differs from first generation hippies who celebrated Cohen as the embodiment of Eros and free love. His minmalist musical approach is a stark counterpoint to his poetic text which is lush with imagery, double meanings and ambivalent wordplay. "Sisters of Mercy" can be read as either a celebration of the good works of, either nuns or prostitutes depending on your viewpoint. "Hallelujah" makes a holy sacrament of uninhibited sexuality. Cohen always challenged the notion of duality in his themes by equating the sacred with the profane. His life's mission his been afflict discomfort on those who see the world in mutally exlusive terms of moral postivism.

Cohen was the reckless romantic who spent several years in a Bhuddist monastary and now he has returned as an aging Siddartha to challenge our conventional wisdom about life, love and morality. "The Essential Leonard Cohen" is the journey of a seeker of the truth beginning with a potrait of an artist as a young man, and ending with jaded musings of a sage and sinner who discovers the more he learns about life, the less he really knows. This is Cohen the zen-master who has nothing left to prove. We are wiser people for Cohen's long jouney into the heart of darkness and if you want the unadulterated truth about love and life, Leonard Cohen will be the first to step forward and fearlessly proclaim, "I'm your man." ... Read more

19. Celtic Woman
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Asin: B00000FC34
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 7323
Average Customer Review: 3.25 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars buy vol.2
Few selections good. If you love Loreena McKennitt
keep buying her work, skip this cd and buy vol.2 of this title.
Vol. 1 will not keep your ear interested for long.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful voices
This CD is a beautiful compilation of many of today's contemporary female Celtic artists. Loreena McKennitt singing Annachie Gorden is a perfect example of the beauty that can be found in this edition - almost as beautiful as Mother Eire herself. Marian Bradfield, Melanie O'Reilly and Aine Furey, all contributing tracks show the wide variety of singing styles and popularity of many of the artists including. The songs selected tend to be traditional, but with a new spin such as Rita Connolly singing Ripples in the Rockpools. All of the songs whether traditional or contemporary are all timeless classics.

3-0 out of 5 stars new celtic woman cd
I was disappointed with this cd only because I had thought the music would be in a more traditional celtic style. Although the musical and recording quality is quite fine, most of these sections are in a pop/rock or folk sound. The selections that are more traditional celtic sound include only those by McKennitt and Ni Dhomhnaill. If you're looking for a contemporary vocal female sound in general, you will probably like this recording but the composers could be from a number of Western countries besides those of Celtic origin.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great compilation of contemporary celtic music
This is a terrific album. Some compilation albums can be uneven, this is consistently good. Loreena McKennitt's Anachie Gordon is very good, from one of her earlier albums. I especially like the 4th track, Tonight Is Just For Us. This is a CD I'll listen to a lot.

I also like the fact that they published the lyrics in the liner notes.

With the explosion of celtic music, there is a lot available - good, bad, and mediocre, and of course a lot of it depends on personal taste. To gauge similar tastes, I also like Loreena McKennitt, Clannad/Maire Brennan, Sinead O'Connor, the Putamayo Celtic Women of the World 1 (but not 2), and the Women of Heart series. ... Read more

20. Hunky Dory
list price: $16.98
our price: $13.99
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Asin: B00001OH7O
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 5784
Average Customer Review: 4.65 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (51)

5-0 out of 5 stars I'm sinking in the quicksand of my thought
Before the arrival of the Thin White Duke or Ziggy Stardust, there was Bowie, just before the Spiders were about to take England and the world by storm. Hunky Dory came out the year before and to me, was the best album he put out in the 1970's.

"Changes" is classic Bowie from opening note to the closing saxophone, done by Bowie himself. It's a hand-up to the younger generation who have problems from the old fogies who look down on them with contempt and pity.

I'm also partial to the sauntering piano and vocal of "Oh! You Pretty Things." which comes alive with Mick Woodmansey's drums mid-song. The mellowness continues with "Eight Line Poem."

"Life On Mars?" is one of the biggest justifications for Bowie's existence. Well, that and "Space Oddity." Oh then there's "Time Will Crawl" and then, ... well, the symphonic wall and piano surrounding the chorus that break in beginning with "Sailors fighting in the dance hall..." The line about "the Lawmen beating up the wrong guy" brings to mind Rodney King.

It would've been interesting to have the kind of parents on the light-hearted "Kooks." A click or so away from conventionality, it seems. Classic line: "And if the homework brings you down/Then we'll throw it on the fire." Equally light is "Fill Your Heart" a quick jazz-swingy number of freeing one's heart with love and forgetting one's mind. Apart from Sgt Peppers, the people of Pepperland might accept this song heartily.

The reflective "Quicksand" is the opposite and presents a gloomy, dark vision, having the guitar of "Space Oddity." The piano and strings come into play effectively as in "Life On Mars?" especially when juxtaposed with the apocalyptic "Don't believe in yourself/Don't deceive with belief/Knowledge comes with death's release."

Sound bites: The acoustic guitar is really strong on rhythm in "Andy Warhol" With Mick Ronson's snarling glam-rock guitar, "Queen B-tch" can be considered the first volley by the Spiders. Compare this to "Suffragette City." And finally, "Song For Bob Dylan" is exactly what it sounds like, a nod to one of if not America's greatest songwriter and storyteller.

To say that his recent album 'hours' was close to this misses the mark, although there are overtones. Alternately upbeat and melancholy, with not too many traces of the Spiders invasion that would suddenly come the following year.

5-0 out of 5 stars Let Me Make it Plain: Gotta Make Way for the Homo Superior!
Hunky Dory (1971) is David Bowie's second album--released after The Man Who Sold the World and prior to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. Hunky Dory is the most enjoyable and entertaining of all of Bowie's albums to me--unlike most, every song is very entertaining and pleasant here. If you don't know any other of his records, I certainly recommend that you start with this one. Albeit this is the most commercial of all his works, it still possesses that guaranteed Bowie "edge." Even though Ziggy Stardust--the supreme concept album of the 1970s--is more purposeful and focused, Hunky Dory is more musically amusing and accessible than that one. While most of the tracks are not incredibly intellectual or may not require deep analysis, when it comes to writing great pop songs, Bowie is a genius. Although he doesn't usually write cheesily or with cliché, he [along with Bob Dylan] is one of the few people who can successfully pull it off when he decides to--"Kooks" is one of the silliest and funniest songs ever written, and even though it is ridiculous, it's without a question my favorite. I also really like, of course, the fittingly mournful "Song for Bob Dylan"--it's quite possibly the best tribute ever written! "Changes," the hit of the album, along with "Fill Your Heart," both integrate well and embellish the rest of Hunky Dory's childish animation and hopefulness. Directly following the release of Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie publicly announced his bisexuality, and Hunky Dory certainly has more than a few hints of this budding flamboyance. Though many of the songs are very light, many of them also expound upon Bowie's frustration with his bland society, especially "Oh! You Pretty Things:" "What are we coming to? ...Homo sapiens have outgrown their use... Gotta make way for the Homo Superior!" Bowie's style changes from album to album, but the songs on Hunky Dory are upbeat and extravagant, yet still very simple [if that's possible]. I really don't have much else to say, except that this album is very good and very nice and you should hear it as soon as you can.

3-0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars - Still finding his way
Hunky Dory (1971.) David Bowie's fourth album.

David Bowie had only been making music for about half a decade when the seventies came around, but he had already shifted his sound more times than most artists do in their entire careers. He'd gone from an oldies-pop sound to more of an acoustic-style folk rock one. And come the new decade, and he was about to shift his stylings once again, in more of a rock-style direction. With guitarist Mick Ronson, he recorded his third album, The Man Who Sold The World. One year later, he recorded his fourth LP, Hunky Dory, also featuring Ronson. Read on for my review.

Let me start by saying that this album is a step up from Bowie's previous albums (I feel each one of the first five David Bowie albums is an improvement over its predecessor), but he still hadn't found his voice as a rock star yet (that wouldn't happened until 1972's Ziggy Stardust.) Despite this, Bowie serves up a pretty good album. Changes would become one of Bowie's biggest hits, and why not? It's seventies-style pop rock at its very best. The other tracks are hit and miss, but there are a few gems here. Life On Mars would become a fairly popular track, and the favorite of many Bowie fans. It's not my favorite, but solid nonetheless. The acoustic stylings of Quicksand are also excellent - you've gotta love the lyrics here. Andy Warhol, Song For Bob Dylan, and Queen Bitch are also very good. In the end, this album seems like a definite improvement over its predecessors, but at the same time, it leaves a lot to be desired - some of the tracks are subpar.

Like with the other David Bowie remasters, the foreign Ryko versions have bonus tracks that can't be found on the American reissues. If you're a Bowie maniac, I suggest shelling out the extra cash and getting the remasters; you may enjoy the extra tracks. However, if you're just a typical Bowie fan, the American reissues will do just fine.

In the end, this is a good album, but I remain confident that it could have been done better. I really only recommend this album to David Bowie die-hards - It may give his casual fans the wrong idea about his music, and we sure as hell don't want that happening (getting the wrong first impression of a musical artist is NEVER a good thing - and David Bowie is no exception.)

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic
(...)All I can say is that I'm glad I gave this time the propper amount of time to really seep in because now I'm a full blown David Bowie convert. As far as this album goes this is the one where David Bowie really finds his sound. If you hear Space Oddity first that one has it's moments but it doesn't resonate as well as the next 4 albums. Also, I'd just like to add that Queen Bitch is one of the most underrated songs and I just gotta say that song is one of my all time favorite Bowie songs.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bowie at his Best!
I was not alive during the highlights of David Bowie's career. My mom is a huge Bowie fan though, and I often listen to her cds. Hunky Dory caught my attention because of its title, but I finally listened to it when looking for quotes to put in my paper about Andy Warhol. I couldn't stop listening. It's fantastic. No one song on this is bad, although some I like better than others. This is a must have for the Bowie fanatic or anybody just interested in an introduction to the amazin David Bowie. ... Read more

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