Baptism [Bonus Tracks]

Baptism [Bonus Tracks]

by Joan Baez

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Baptism [Bonus Tracks]

Joan Baez's most unusual album, Baptism is of a piece with the "concept" albums of the late '60s, but more ambitious than most and different from all of them. Baez by this time was immersed in various causes, concerning the Vietnam War, the human condition, and the general state of the world, and it seemed as though every note of music that she sang was treated as important -- sometimes in a negative way by her opponents; additionally, popular music was changing rapidly, and even rock groups that had seldom worried in their music about too much beyond the singer's next sexual conquest were getting serious. Baptism was Baez getting more serious than she already was, right down to the settings of her music, and redirecting her talent from folk song to art song, complete with orchestral accompaniment. Naturally, her idea of a concept album would differ from that of, say, Frank Sinatra or the Beatles. Baptism was a body of poetry selected, edited, and read and sung by Baez, and set to music by Peter Schickele (better known for his comical musical "discoveries" associated with "P.D.Q. Bach", but also a serious musician and composer). In 1968, amid the strife spreading across the world, the album had a built-in urgency that made it work as a mixture of art and message -- today, it seems like a precious and overly self-absorbed period piece. Baez lacks the speaking voice to pull off an album's worth of readings, though her interpretations of Federico García Lorca's "Casida of the Lament" and "Gacela of the Dark Death" show her achieving a level of compelling expressiveness that is lacking elsewhere; and the recording of Countee Cullen's "Epitaph for a Poet" features some beautiful accompaniment by Schickele. Additionally, the sung portions, including "Old Welsh Song," "Who Murdered the Minutes," "The Magic Wood," and "Oh, Little Child" by Henry Treece, "Of the Dark Past" by James Joyce, "All in Green Went My Love Riding" by e.e. cummings, and the lullaby "All the Pretty Little Horses" are beautiful and sustain those portions of the album. Baptism is primarily for Baez completists, however, although it is also a singular reminder for '60s history buffs that not all of the antiwar movement's music, or the work coming out of the folk scene in 1968, was necessarily loud, harsh, or bitter. [The 2003 reissue adds three previously unreleased tracks from the original recording sessions, Treece's "Mystic Numbers: 36. Wedding Song," Joyce's "When the Shy Star Goes Forth in Heaven," and William Blake's "The Angel." It's easy to see why these minor additions from writers already represented on the album were left off the original release, but their inclusion gives a fuller sense of the creators' intentions. Arthur Levy's 2003 liner notes provide a sense of historical context and emphasize Vanguard Records co-founder Maynard Solomon's primacy in the creation of the album. How many label heads would sign off on, much less initiate, as seemingly uncommercial an idea as this one for a flagship artist? Probably only one.] ~ Bruce Eder & William Ruhlmann

Product Details

Release Date: 09/27/2004
Label: Vanguard Imports
UPC: 0029667003926
catalogNumber: 6700392

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Joan Baez   Primary Artist,Vocals,Voices
Peter Schickele   Conductor

Technical Credits

Willie Dixon   Composer
Tim Hart   Composer
Peter Knight   Composer
Maddy Prior   Composer
Walt Whitman & the Soul Children   Composer
Donovan   Composer
Kenneth Rexroth   Composer,translation
Lawrence Ferlinghetti   translation
William Blake   Composer
Norman Rosten   Composer
James Joyce   Composer
Edgar Froese   Composer
Ed Friedner   Engineer
Paul Haslinger   Composer
Robert Johnson   Composer
Rick Kemp   Composer
Maynard Solomon   Producer,Concept
Jacques Prévert   Composer
Mark Spector   Reissue Producer
Arthur Levy   Liner Notes
Norman Moore   Art Direction
Jules Halfant   Art Direction
Georgette Cartwright   Creative Services Coordinator
e.e. cummings   Composer
J.L. Gili   translation
Federico García Lorca   Composer
Arthur Waley   Composer,translation
Louise Varese   translation
Robert Peak   Cover Art
Peter Schickele   Composer
Arthur Rimbaud   Composer
Countee Cullen   Composer
John Donne   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Jim Coyne   Cover Photo
Peter Levi   translation
Robin Milner Gulland   translation
Wilfred Owen   Composer
Stephen Spender   translation
Chris Franke   Composer
Henry Treece   Composer

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