"This is arguably Jimmy Buffett's most obscure album - which is all the more reason why you should own it. These early glimpses of the man years before he was famous are really fascinating given the image most of us have of Jimmy today. Let's make one thing clear from the top, though: there are no steel drums or tropical rhythms on here. None of the songs deal exclusively with life-or-death parties (to borrow from a more recent Buffett CD) or the ocean. All that was quite a while into the future when these songs were recorded. What you do get is tuneful folk-rock, with enough country twang thrown in the mix to remind us that our hero started off in Nashville. There's also a sharper sense of social relevance here than in most of his better-known works: "Bend a Little" and "Ace" feature some of the most biting lyrics he's ever served up while "Rockefeller Square" (my favorite song on the album, with a deceptively energetic arrangement) is worthy of Dylan in its skewering of hypocrisy. It's too bad Buffett so rarely tries to take on serious issues anymore; this album proves he's quite good at it when he tries. Best of all are early versions of "In the Shelter" and "Livingston's Gone to Texas" which, for my money, top the better known recordings. Winding down the album in style is the title track, which progresses from a pretty, almost Beatlesque piano tune to a country rave-up featuring a terrific banjo break. It's an eclectic mix, but - like the album overall - it works!"
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 01/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"High Cumberland Jubilee unfortunately was released on the tiny Barnaby label or else it could have been Jimmy Buffett's breakout. It contains some of his best songs, "In The Shelter" and "Livingston's Gone To Texas" were later revived and re-recorded on future albums, and great singing. "Ace" & "Rockefeller Square" are songs about odd-ball characters. "Death Valley Lives" is one of his all-time best songs and pops along like a car on the open road. "God Don't Own A Car" & "The Hang-Out Gang" are typical Jimmy Buffett wry look at life songs. The album fulfills the promise of his debut and is a great hidden gem."
Not the same cuts as Before the Beach!
Thomas Magnum | 12/22/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you collect Buffett, you gotta have this one. So what if the songs here are on "Before the Beach", that's not the point. Besides, the songs on this CD have a more polished "Recorded in the Studio" sound than "Before the Beach" and with that "bonus track" you would be crazy not to add this to your Buffett library (it actually is on B4TB). So what if it isn't his greatest hits, It was a great start to a great career and the liner notes state what would have happened if..."
Songs slightly different from "Before the Beach" album
Thomas Magnum | 08/30/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having had "Before the Beach" for quite some time, I was surprised to hear the different versions on this re-release. Note the flute on "Ace", the electric guitar on "Death Valley Lives", and the slightly differently set-up version of "High Cumberland Jubilee/Comin' Down Slow". Excellent folk-rock album, recommended more to James Taylor and Gordon Lightfoot fans than those especially fond of "Songs You Know By Heart." Early versions of Livingston's Gone to Texas" and "In the Shelter" are also interesting to listen to."