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Best of the Vanguard Years
Ian & Sylvia
Best of the Vanguard Years
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #1

Along with Gordon Lightfoot, the team of Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker represented the best that Canada had to offer during the folk boom of the early and mid- '60s. The duo's earthy voices and wraparound harmonies helped ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Ian & Sylvia
Title: Best of the Vanguard Years
Members Wishing: 6
Total Copies: 0
Label: Vanguard Records
Original Release Date: 8/11/1998
Release Date: 8/11/1998
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock
Styles: Traditional Folk, Folk Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 015707951623, 0090204663248

Along with Gordon Lightfoot, the team of Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker represented the best that Canada had to offer during the folk boom of the early and mid- '60s. The duo's earthy voices and wraparound harmonies helped them become one of the most commercially successful '60s folk acts. And while they gained much attention for their interpretations of songs by the likes of Bob Dylan ("This Wheel's on Fire"), Joni Mitchell ("The Circle Game"), and the aforementioned Lightfoot ("Early Morning Rain"), it's their originals that remain evergreens 20-odd years after their mid-'70s split- up. To wit: Tyson's "Four Strong Winds" (covered memorably by Neil Young) and "Someday Soon" (a longtime staple of Judy Collins's repertoire), and Fricker's "You Were on My Mind" (a mid-'60s hit for the We Five). All of these, and plenty more, are found on this highly satisfying 25-song collection. --Billy Altman

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CD Reviews

Music built to last
Jerome Clark | Canby, Minnesota | 01/08/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Amazing how Ian and Sylvia's music, which some purists once foolishly dissed as too slick and commercial-sounding to pass the authenticity test, holds up more than three decades after the passing of the folk revival that brought them out of Canada and onto the international stage. Ian Tyson, once again a significant figure on the folk scene, is today the undisputed king of the new cowboy music. Probably he has fans who've never heard, or even heard of, the songs he and partner, subsequent wife, and finally ex-wife Sylvia Fricker Tyson recorded in the 1960s. This generally well-chosen set, taken from their classic Vanguard recordings, is a chance to hear the duo, depending on where you're coming from, for the first or yet one more time. There's a good mix of the couple's originals, including hits such as "You Were on My Mind," "Four Strong Winds," and "Some Day Soon," covers of Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash, Phil Ochs (whose "Changes" is a highlight here), and Bob Dylan, and traditional songs and ballads. Among these last are the gorgeous French-Canadian "Un Canadien Errant" and an affecting rendition of the Caribbean sailor's lament "Mary Ann," plus solid readings of Anglo-Celtic-American standards "Nancy Whiskey," "Katy Dear," and "The Greenwood Sidie." On the other hand, "Rocks and Gravel," from the African-American prison-song tradition, needs more vocal heft than the Tysons are able to bring to it. Among the newer material David Rea's pretentious "Ninety Degrees by Ninety Degrees" makes an unwelcome reappearance. Ian's "Play One More," surely his most uninspired composition (hobbled, moreover, with a clumsy arrangement), comes inexplicably out of moth balls, leaving the listener to wonder why a neglected masterpiece like "Four Rode by" was left hanging in the closet. On the other hand, another overlooked jewel, "The Renegade," among the finest of the many splendid songs Ian has composed, is here in all its tragic glory. All in all, with the exceptions noted, this is music built to last."
A great folk duo
Smallchief | 12/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I may be a minority of one but Ian and Sylvia are my favorite of the 60s folk groups. Sylvia has an earth-mother voice, Ian is a good picker and writes great songs, and they had a Canadian accent to their music which made them different from the legions of American groups. Cowboys are Ian's favorite subject and his "Four Strong Winds" is one of the greatest folk songs ever. It's about a drifter, and his girl, and goin' out to Alberta in the Fall. He also wrote the definitive rodeo song: "Some Day Soon." Judy Collins possibly did it better than Ian and Sylvia, but just barely.
One of the best songs is "The Renegade" by Ian, a defiant declaration by an American -- or rather Canadian -- Indian. Sylvia does a Dylan song, "This Wheel's on Fire," and makes it sound like a song that Dylan didn't write. "Nancy Whiskey" is a anti-drinking song, that made me want a drink. "Rocks and Gravel" is a bluesey, bass-heavy chain gang song. Ian and Sylvia's version of "Early Morning Rain" is one of the best. "Ninety Degrees by Ninety Degrees" is incomprehensible and un-folk, but the vocal harmonies are intriguing.
Ian bought a ranch in Alberta with the money he made from "Four Strong Winds." Just like in the song, Sylvia chose not to live out there where the "winds blow lonely" and there "ain't too much to do." That was the end of Ian and Sylvia. Life imitates art."