"As the frontman for the Lovin' Spoonful, there were high expectations for his solo work. And overall he didn't disappoint. This collection starts with six tracks taken from his 1970 self-titled debut following the breakup of the Spoonful, and they feature his aw-shucks good humor. "Red-Eye Express" and "I Had a Dream" are especially strong tracks from this album.The following year he released The Four of Us which is represented by only two tracks: the title song and "Well, Well, Well."It would be three years before John released Tarzana Kid--my personal bid for his best solo effort. Tracks from this 1974 album inlcude "Face of Appalachia," "Sitting in Limbo," and "Stories We Could Tell"--a song that was later covered by the Everly Brothers (and Phil sings back-up on John's version here). Four tracks from Welcome Back seems a bit excessive(not his strongest album), but the title track provided John with his only hit single from his solo years and went all the way to No. 1.My only other complaint is, though the album gets mentioned in the liner notes, there are no tracks from Cheapo-Cheapo Productions Presents Real Live John Sebastian. I have the album on vinyl (like all of the rest of his solo stuff in my collection) and while it's a bit ragged in spots, John works well in front of an audience and it would have been nice to see this Reprise album represented as well.If you already have Rhino's Lovin' Spoonful Anthology, then you're ready to move on to The Best of John Sebastian. As I write this I'm looking at the photo of John in the middle of the CD booklet and the smile on his face matches the smile his music will put on yours. HIGHLY Recommended"
Great, but not definitive
Steve Vrana | 01/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This "best-of" from Sebastian's years at Warners/Reprise is a good enough digest of that time, but it doesn't begin to give the listener the full scope of what this terrific performer was doing back then. Sebastian really can do it all, namely write, sing, play and ENTERTAIN, all with great results. Lest you think that all you're in for is a bunch of hippy day-glo tunes, there's "The Room Nobody Lives In," as moving a portrait of sad solitude as anything Randy Newman ever wrote when he wasn't trying to be funny; there's "Well, Well Well," a re-write of the old blues "In My Time Of Dying" which has Sebastian singing at his most crazed; there's "Hills Of Appalachia," a folk-tune by way of Little Feat that has strong lasting images. And SO WHAT if he also did the theme to "Welcome Back, Kotter?" You're gonna tell me you don't find yourself singing along when they play it over the sound system at the local supermarket? C'mon, own up!Unfortunately what're missing are tracks which showed how good a live performer John Sebastian was and is. Something from his CHEAPO-CHEAPO PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS REAL LIVE JOHN SEBASTIAN album would've been nice, especially his lovely rendition of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene." And it leaves out a LOT of mighty good stuff Sebastian did back in the Seventies. Granted, you can possibly still get one of the limited editions of the three-CD box-set showcasing all of Sebastian's Warners/Reprise recordings; Rhino sells it exclusively on their "Rhino Handmade" website for close to 70 bucks. But this sort of narrow-marketing really isn't fair to a lot of people who would enjoy hearing these recordings again after so long or, for that matter, to newer listeners who'd find a real treat in store given the chance.So, get this set by all means and hope maybe the powers that be might see fit to realease all of John Sebastian's back catalogue so that EVERYBODY has a chance to hear what he's done."
Best sing-along songs ever!!
jayhikkss | 06/13/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These are great songs and really fun to sing along with. Simple, great themes and great for children. If you only like hard rock, you'll hate it; otherwise you're gonna love it!!"
Could've been more thorough
Steve Vrana | 09/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This CD devotes itself to the more mellow side of John Sebastian. Many classics are missing (regrettably, since so few Sebastian CDs available) like "What She Thinks About," "Hideaway" (which was issued as a single), "One Step Forward, One Step Back," and "Rainbow All Over Your Blues." I more highly recommend the Rhino limited time box set (which may still be purchased through their website, for a rather high price of $70.00, though) of his complete 70s discography. I recommend this because, for a Spoonful fan, Sebastian's solo songwriting is consistently good, though sometimes his production and choice of support is lacking. For instance, the support for the first side of the largely popish "Four Of Us" LP was inadequately raw (though it does work for the blues of 'Well, Well, Well,' included here in the Best Of). Overall, each project was rewarding, though. Especially good LPs of his were "John B. Sebastian" (was a big hit, where's the CD version of it?) "Welcome Back," and the first side of the "Tarzana Kid" LP, which, unlike the second side, devoted itself to original songs. Overall, good listening material while waiting for the next J-Band CD. However, the ideal "Best Of," excluding Spoonful and J-Band cuts, would be as follows (listen up Rhino):
Red Eye Express / She's a Lady / What She Thinks About / Rainbow All Over Your Blues (live from Woodstock?) / Magical Connection / I Had a Dream / Mobile Line (live from Cheapo) / Rooty-Toot (live) / Apple Hill / I Don't Want Nobody Else / Well Well Well / We'll See / Give Us a Break / Stories We Could Tell / Face Of Appalachia / Welcome Back / Hideaway / She's Funny / I Needed Her Most When I Told Her To Go / One Step Forward (Two Steps Back) / Looking For Something Better (live 79) / Freezin' From the Inside Out / Tar Beach / Don't You Run With Him / Walking With Someone New
Even this would be missing "How Have You Been," "Four Of Us" (short version)," and "Sitting In Limbo" among others, but heck, there's only 80 minutes available on a CD!"
Hello people, give a warm welcome to John Sebastian!
jayhikkss | 10/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This excellent CD compiles sixteen tracks released on John Sebastian's four studio albums issued on the Reprise label between 1970 and 1976.
When he began his solo career, John Sebastian already had a prestigious past. His early career as a studio folk-blues musician was followed by an incredibly successful stint with the Lovin' Spoonful. He wrote (or co-wrote) their seven Top 10 and four further Top 50 singles. He also sang lead on all of them.
Sebastian quit the band in 1967 to become more of a "singer-songwriter" (which he had, actually, been all along within the ranks of the Lovin' Spoonful, just as, say, Paul McCartney had been within the Beatles). With the Spoonful, John Sebastian experimented with a potent mixture of folk, jug band, rock & roll, country and even orchestrated movie scoring. This sense of experimentation remained a constant during his solo career as well, especially as he was able to draw on numerous supporting musicians.
Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 come from his first Top 20 LP titled "John B. Sebastian" (1970) recorded with a bunch of L.A. luminaries. This is widely considered his best LP. All the selections are very, very good, although I have personally never like "The Room Nobody Lives In". The studio version of Woodstock's "Rainbow All Over Your Blues" might have been a better choice. "You're A Big Boy Now" (track 4) is more fully realized than on the original Lovin' Spoonful soundtrack LP and I like this interpretation better.
Two tracks are lifted from "The Four Of Us" (1971), the best being a rocking version of "Well, Well, Well" (track 15) with John in splendid voice on this old blues tune first waxed by Blind Willie Johnson as "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed" (1927). The title track is also superb, with its tuneful, relaxing voice and instrumentation backing.
Tracks 7, 12, 13 are taken from the eclectic, superlative and underrated "Tarzana Kid" (1974.) These songs are truly wonderful and I wish that more tracks had been chosen from this album. The most glaring omissions are John's renditions of Lowell George "Dixie Chicken" and of Melvin Endsley's "Singing the Blues". The backing musicians are stellar, featuring Ry Cooder, David Lindley, Amos Garrett, David Grisman, Buddy Emmons, etc. Famed Spoonful producer Erik Jacobsen reunited with John for this album.
Tracks 8, 9, 10 and 14 are from John's last major label album "Welcome Back" (1976). The title track topped the US pop singles charts. "Didn't Want To Have To Do It" (track 10) is really top-notch. It is delivered in a weary voice that slightly betters, IMO, the already superfine original Spoonful track. The two other original are also very effective.
Finally, ""Give Us a Break" is a quiet, nice, non-LP single from 1972 that is welcome.
The sound is pretty good for a 1989 digital mastering, although not quite up to the standard of the Rhino Handmade box set released in 2001.
A final word: Collector's Choice will release all of the aforementioned albums (as well as the live "Cheapo-Cheapo Productions") in 2007, using Rhino's remasters.
If you only want a single CD collection from John Sebastian, do consider buying this one while it is still around. You will not be disappointed. "