Best of the Vanguard Years

Best of the Vanguard Years

by Tom Paxton
     
 

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Since he first made his mark as a contemporary of Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs in the heyday of the 1960s folk revival, Tom Paxton has consistently tackled themes of love and politics with humor, insight, and gentle irony. This 25-track collection, drawn from Paxton's '70s tenure with the Vanguard label, offers an excellent sampling of the veteran singer-songwriter's…  See more details below

Overview

Since he first made his mark as a contemporary of Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs in the heyday of the 1960s folk revival, Tom Paxton has consistently tackled themes of love and politics with humor, insight, and gentle irony. This 25-track collection, drawn from Paxton's '70s tenure with the Vanguard label, offers an excellent sampling of the veteran singer-songwriter's talents, from righteous political broadsides to tender love songs. Along with a quintet of previously unreleased live tracks recorded at the 1963 and '64 Newport Folk Festivals, including the Paxton classics "Ramblin' Boy," "Bottle of Wine," and "Last Thing on My Mind," the collection features standout protest numbers such as the amusing "Talking Watergate" and the deadly serious "Death of Stephen Biko." Then there's Paxton's homages: "Phil," an evocative remembrance of fallen comrade Ochs, and the memorable tribute to another musical great, "Did You Hear John Hurt?" A fine listen for longtime Paxton fans and a good introduction for curious newcomers, Best of the Vanguard Years offers a first-rate portrait of an artist who knows just when to take politics -- and life -- seriously, and when to apply a lighter touch.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
Paxton's prime as a recording artist was spent on Elektra, not Vanguard. But Vanguard has managed to assemble a best-of for his slim output by taking most of the late-'70s albums he did on the label and adding a half-dozen live songs from the 1963 and 1964 Newport Folk Festivals. Those performances are going to be the tracks that attract most interest, particularly since all but one ("The Willing Conscript," from the 1963 festival) are previously unreleased. The five unissued cuts are all from the 1964 festival, and include some of his best songs: "Bottle of Wine," "The Last Thing on My Mind," "Ramblin' Boy," and "Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation." Paxton sounds a little more relaxed, perhaps due to the live setting, than he was on some of his Elektra studio efforts of the period. Pete Seeger adds some banjo and harmony vocal. All but one song ("Bring Back the Chair") from his live-in-the-studio 1977 album New Songs from the Briarpatch follow, after which we hear all but two songs from his 1978 album Heroes. The late-'70s material is convivial, mild folk-rock without much bite or edge. Steve Goodman plays acoustic guitar and does background vocals on New Songs from the Briarpatch, and Eric Weissberg is the backing musician of note for the more full-bodied arrangements of Heroes. Paxton's style and concerns had changed relatively little in the intervening dozen-plus years since the Newport fests, addressing contemporary topical issues that launched few specific commentaries in song (like Watergate, Anita Bryant's anti-gay campaign, and the death of Stephen Biko) and comedy ("You Can Eat Dog Food").

Product Details

Release Date:
06/20/2000
Label:
Vanguard Records
UPC:
0015707956123
catalogNumber:
79561
Rank:
211533

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