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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Judy Collins

White Bird - Anthology Of Favorites

Review by Gary Hill

I know Judy Collins might not seem like the kind of artist that a prog and metal fan like myself enjoys. I've always liked her music, and especially her voice, though. This new collection features a number of songs she hand-picked for inclusion. At least one, the opener, is brand new. I'm not sure if the rest are new recordings or not. The liner notes seem a bit less than clear on that. The truth is, though, everything here is strong. There are quite a few musicians spread across the set. One of interest to prog fans is Tony Levin who plays bass on more than one song here. Featured guests are Joan Baez, Willie Nelson and Stephen Stills.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
White Bird
This 1960s song gets a gentle and quite pretty rendition here. I really love the vocals, and the musical arrangement has a great energy and vibe, but it's spacious enough to really allow the vocals to shine.
Chelsea Morning
This has a cool jazz groove as it gets underway. It's another strong piece. There is an intricate quality to it.
Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)
I like the almost country edge to this version of the classic number. This is a strong entry on a disc full of strong music.
Pack up Your Sorrows
With more of an energetic, traveling sort of vibe, this has plenty of folk music in the mix, but also has some hints of country.
When I Go feat. Willie Nelson
I like the dramatic folk music concepts of this. Willie Nelson's vocals are so great. It's quite a cool duet.
I Think It's Going to Rain Today
A mellower piece, this is built around piano and vocals at its core. There are other layers, but they are more of an icing on the cake thing.
Last Thing on My Mind feat. Stephen Stills
This does feel a bit like Crosby Stills and Nash. The acoustic guitar and piano based musical arrangement is very classy.
Blackbird
A cover of the classic Beatles song, this is a great rendition. It's not a stretch from what you would expect, but it doesn't need to be.
Both Sides Now
I have always loved this song. This arrangement feels more string oriented than I remember. The vocals are purely soaring. This is just such a powerful piece of music.
Diamonds and Rust
I first heard this song as done by Judas Priest. I remember finding out that it was a Joan Baez song and being shocked. I heard her version and didn't really care for it. Here Baez provides additional vocals to Collins', and I think this works so well. I'll always prefer the Priest version, but this is great, too. Everything about this screams "class," and there is so much passion packed into the arrangement.
Send in the Clowns
Now, this song, on the other hand, has never worked all that well for me. I do like the vocal performance, but the syrupy strings seem over the top.
 
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