Not quite as comprehensive a compilation of the Youngbloods' early years as Raven's Euphoria 1965-1969, which starts a few years earlier and has four more tracks, this 2002 release is still the best American collection from the seminal '60s folk
ock/jug band group's formative and most artistically vibrant period. It follows the quartet through their nascent days of the dated, whimsical psychedelic pop of "Merry-Go-Round" and the Jefferson Airplane rock of "Four in the Morning" (complete with a guitar solo that's a ringer for Jorma Kaukonen's style) to their final, mellower period as original member Jerry Corbitt's exit transferred the creative reins to Jesse Colin Young. Seven tracks are selected from each of their three RCA albums, with the only rarity being the previously mentioned "Merry-Go-Round," the B-side to "Foolin' Around (The Waltz)." Even with Corbitt in the band, it was Young's tender, yearning voice, exemplified best on "Get Together," that gave them their identity. Without that song and his singing, they would have likely faded into the mists of history as another '60s combo trying their hands at a moderately successful combination of folk, jazz, and jug band; a wannabe Lovin' Spoonful without a songwriter as memorable as John Sebastian. The Youngbloods' sound never really gelled until their third release, Elephant Mountain, not coincidentally the first album without Corbitt. Here, Young's songs like the ominous "Darkness, Darkness" -- arguably the band's finest moment -- the lovely "Sunlight," "Quicksand," and the beautiful "Ride the Wind" showed the melodic promise only hinted at on their first few discs. The group moved on to Warner Brothers, where they never fulfilled the promise Elephant Mountain hinted at, and they disbanded for good in 1972.