American Pie [Bonus Tracks]by Don McLean
Don McLean's second album, American Pie, which was his first to gain recognition after the negligible initial sales of 1970's Tapestry, is necessarily dominated by its title track, a lengthy, allegorical history of rock & roll, because it became an unlikely hit, topping the singles chart and putting the LP at Number One as well. It has been 31-plus years between the release of the original ten-track album, and this 12-track edition containing two bonus recordings from the same sessions. "American Pie" has remained as much a cultural touchstone as a song, sung by everyone from Garth Brooks to Madonna, its title borrowed for a pair of smutty teen comedies, while the record itself has earned a registered three million plays on U.S. radio stations. There may not be much more to note about it, then, except, perhaps, that even without a crib sheet to identify who's who, the song can still be enjoyed for its engaging melody and singable chorus, which may have more to do with its success than anything else. Of course, the album also included "Vincent," McLean's paean to Van Gogh, which has been played two million times. Nothing else on the album is as effective as the hits, but the other eight original songs range from sensitive fare like "Till Tomorrow," to the sarcastic, up-tempo "Everybody Loves Me, Baby." American Pie -- the album -- is very much a record of its time; it is imbued with the vague depression of the early '70s that infected the population and found expression in the works of singer/songwriters. "American Pie" -- the song -- is really a criticism of what happened in popular music in the '60s, and "Vincent" sympathizes with Van Gogh's suicide as a sane comment on an insane world. "Crossroads" and "Empty Chairs" are personal reflections full of regret and despondency, with the love song "Winterwood" providing the only respite. In the album's second half, the songs get more portentous, tracing society's ills into war and spiritual troubles in "The Grave" and "Sister Fatima." "Aftermath," the first of the bonus tracks, continues that theme, while the melodic "Mother Nature" is more hopeful, and might have become another hit if included on the initial album. The songs are made all the more poignant by the stately folk-pop arrangements and McLean's clear, direct tenor. It was that voice, equally effective on remakes of pop oldies, that was his salvation when he proved unable to match the songwriting standard set on Tapestry and this collection. But then, the album has an overall elegiac quality that makes it sound like a final statement. After all, if the music has died, what else is there to say?
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsDon McLean Primary Artist,Banjo,Guitar,Vocals
Warren Bernhardt Piano
Ray Colcord Electric Piano
Tom Flye Drums
Paul Griffin Piano
Mike Mainieri Marimbas,Vibes
Roy Markowitz Percussion,Drums
Gene Orloff Concert Master
Rob Rothstein Bass
David Spinozza Electric Guitar
Technical CreditsDon McLean Arranger,Composer,Liner Notes,Quotes Researched & Compiled
Tom Flye Engineer
Ed Freeman Producer,String Arrangements
Lee Hays Arranger
Paul Grein Liner Notes,Annotation
Michelle Azzopardi Art Direction
Mitch Steele Reissue Producer
George Whiteman Cover Photo,Original Design Concept
Mark Copeland Reissue Producer
Bryan Kelley Producer
Shannon Ward Producer
Lance Whitaker Producer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I've owned this album since the 70s and it is my all time favorite. I never get tired of any of it. All the songs are great and Mc lean's voice is pure.
I truely believe that this is the greatest albumn on the planet.
In kindergarden I took this albumn to show and tell only to return dejected. The other students (and teachers for that matter) 'just didn't understand' my mom told me. I'm not going to say anything about it's power to last decades or anything. I don't need to this albumn, and it it and albumn, can stand on it's own.
This is simply a MUST HAVE in any albumn - tape - or cd collection.
So many people bought this record for the title song (which is much more dense than anything heard today). But what listeners -- like me -- found out is that McLean was a fabulous writer. If ''Crossroads'' doesn't hit your heart, you've got some contemplating to do. There is no weak song here just as there is no poor song on the follow-up, a self-titled disc. You'll find yourself singing songs from both much more often than you'd think.