Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Favorites & Rarities
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock
Listen to Samples
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A most beautiful voice partnered with songwriting mastery.
D. Mok | Los Angeles, CA | 04/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""American Pie" is Don McLean's most famous song, a misunderstood classic that because of its lyrical crypticism, bouncy imagery and classic-rock arrangement draws polarized responses. Supporters call it a classic; detractors call it a novelty. I fall firmly into the former category. "American Pie" is catchy, smart, and dares to be its own entity. Was there ever a song written quite like it? It was on a level all its own lyrically, as well, carving out one of popular music's most enjoyable and multilayered mysteries.
The one thing "American Pie" doesn't showcase as much is that Don McLean is one fine singer. With superhumanly accurate pitch, rich and narrative while evoking a romantic power, McLean's voice is a marvel, one of those classic voices that cross the generations. The first time I heard it was on the animated film The Flight of Dragons (McLean performed the beautiful title song, which I've been hunting for on CD for years) at the age of eight and I fell in love with that voice. And then there's his guitar playing -- in the words of Eric Clapton as quoted in the liner notes to Favorites & Rarities, "McLean's picking, like his singing, is par excellence".
So what we have here is a collection of beautiful songs (mostly written by McLean) performed immaculately. The pastoral, acoustic guitar-based "Castles in the Air", McLean's superlative cover of Roy Orbison's heartbreak classic "Crying", the romantic paean to Van Gogh "Vincent" and "American Pie" are the most well known songs here, but you'll also discover the lesser-known gems like "Babylon", the haunting traditional ballad that ended the American Pie album; "If We Try", one of the loveliest and most understated songs about romantic yearning I've ever heard, with an enchanting lyric; a newer, slower version of "Castles in the Air" that takes away some of the exuberance of the original but adds vocal ease and atmospheric richness; and "Empty Chairs", as usual a marvellously voiced ballad that ranks comfortably with "Crying" and "Vincent" as McLean balladeering at its best.
The second disc of "Rarities" contains songs that mostly belong in the Woody Guthrie tradition of good-humoured, earthy folk tunes. "Good Old Wagon", "Milkman's Matinee", "Yonkers Girl", "Black Sheep Boy" -- though McLean's lyrics are more celestial and ethereal than Guthrie's (or Guthrie's disciple, Bob Dylan), his vocal versatility allows him to achieve the playfulness and folk appeal that the stories behind the songs attempt to convey.
Cherish the legacy of a great American singer and songwriter, one of the strongest poets, musical and lyrical, ever to have graced popular music."
A bizarre combo -
A. Butterfield | 01/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"a package for neophytes and connoisseurs, highlighting McLean's wonderful songwriting skills and instrumental chops, this two CD set is incredible value at this price."
Almost like finding an undiscovered Don McLean album
A. Butterfield | UK | 06/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The FAVOURITES disc is as you'd expect, so treat it like any other BEST OF. Except, that the sound quality, particularly on the American Pie tracks, is better than I've ever heard before. The RARITIES disc is well worth having. There are quite a few excellent tracks that never made it to the albums, but were pretty good anyway. You can have fun spotting which session they came from. There are other bits too, live bits, and tiny clips.I'd almost say, though, that it's worth getting the whole thing for just one track: Good Old Wagon. Why this track has been gathering dust for all these years is a mystery. I love it!This is a great double CD. The bonus is the extensive notes about each track."