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Folk - Released March 2, 2018 | Proper Records

Hi-Res Booklet
After a decade of discographic silence, the high priestess of folk comes out of her reservation to remind us of the aura and uniqueness of her voice. It is a necessary inner cry in respect of the still troubled times that is Trump’s America. The engaged artist that she has always been had to express herself, again and again, on her favorite themes. Time has admittedly left a mark on her singing, but not on the intensity of the performances that Joan Baez offers here of songs penned by Tom Waits, Josh Ritter, Anohi, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Joe Henry, who is also the disc’s producer. This is incidentally in her ability to appropriate other’s writings that always fascinated people. And when she revisits The President Sang Amazing Grace, that Zoe Mulford had composed after the Charleston church shooting in June 2015, the emotion is more than intense. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Pop - Released June 17, 2016 | Concord Jazz

Hi-Res Booklet
On the January 27, 2016 legendary folk artist Joan Baez celebrated her 75th birthday with a performance at the Beacon Theater in New York. Joined by all-star cast of musicians including Judy Collins, Emmylou Harris, Richard Thompson, and Jackson Browne, the concert was captured for posterity on this 21-track collection. ~ Rich Wilson
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Folk - Released November 20, 2000 | One World Productions

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Folk - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

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Folk - Released April 7, 2017 | Proper Records

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Folk - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

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Folk - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

Spanning three discs, the box set Rare, Live & Classic is an odd mix of Joan Baez's best-known songs and rarities. For the hardcore collector, there are plenty of interesting items here, including previously unreleased duets with Bob Dylan, Donovan, Bill Wood, and Jeffrey Shurtleff, but for the casual fan, there's too much material; they would be better off with her original albums or single-disc compilations. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Folk - Released October 16, 2015 | BDMUSIC

Booklet
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Folk - Released September 22, 2003 | A&M

A month-and-a-half after the release of her first studio recording in six years, and perhaps her finest recording since 1975's Diamonds & Rust, Joan Baez's complete A&M recordings offer a revelatory view of the artist at her most adventurous. Baez's tenure with A&M lasted from 1972-1976 and yielded five studio albums, a live recording, and three non-album singles. All of them are included here on four CDs with gorgeously remastered sound, a deluxe package with exhaustive, insightful, and unflinching liner notes by Arthur Levy, and a package that should win a Grammy for design and presentation if nothing else. Baez, regarded in the popular culture at large as a "folk" or "topical" singer (the latter term she would not refute, the former hasn't fit her for some time), has always been a restless artist. This box set offers proof that Baez's switch to A&M -- then an independent, now swallowed whole by Universal -- from Vanguard, facilitated a virtual renaissance for her not just creatively, but on the charts as well. This reappraisal is necessary, given Baez's most recent recordings have reflected another shift in her sound and concerns, away from being a songwriter to being an interpreter of fine, edgy, roots songs by a whole slew of younger writers -- and her seeming embrace of the electric guitar. The earliest evidence of Baez's rambling vision can be heard on her experimental album Baptism, from 1968. Upon moving to A&M, and recording from her Nashville studio base, Baez released her self-produced Come From The Shadows (with help from Norbert Putnam), featuring -- like her latter day Vanguard recordings -- a host of Nashville's finest musicians, which included David Paul Briggs, Pete Drake, Kenneth A. Buttrey, Charlie McCoy, and Grady Martin. It was certainly a political record, but it also included the stunning "Love Song To A Stranger," and her sister Mimi Fariña's "In The Quiet Morning," written in memory of Janis Joplin. The other half of Disc One is comprised of Where Are You Now, My Son from 1973, co-produced by Baez and Henry Lewy. It included a slew of originals by Baez, including the title track, a pair of songs by Fariña, and Hoyt Axton's "Less Than A Song." Most importantly, it was a move toward something outside of the country-rock realm she'd been toying with. That "something" first occurs on Disc Two with her traditional album of Latin folk and topical songs from Gracias a la Vida, and, of course, 1975's Diamonds and Rust with David Kershenbaum helping her out in the production room. The latter album, heard so many years after the fact of its inception and release, has Baez experimenting with soul -- Stevie Wonder's "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer"; hard country: Dickey Betts' "Blue Sky,"; and moving around toward Dylan once again, as she was part of the Rolling Thunder Review, with a stellar version of "Simple Twist Of Fate," as well as the legendary title track. Along with it, Baez wrote four songs, and recorded others by John Prine, and Jackson Browne, and offered a deeply moving rendition of Stephen Foster's "I Dream of Jeannie" melded with "Danny Boy." It was the masterpiece that both critics and fans knew she was capable of delivering and had been leading up to since Blessed Are.., her final album for Vanguard. It, along with most everything here, has aged well and endures. Disc Three features the second half of Diamonds and Rust, and another fine, if criminally under-appreciated, album Gulf Winds, released in October of 1976 and comprised entirely of Baez originals. Disc Four features one of the best live recordings from the 1970s, From Every Stage, compiled from a handful of shows and not enhanced in any way. Some of the members of her road band included no less than one of Motown's Funk Brothers in bassist James Jamerson, drummer Jim Gordon, pianist David Briggs, and guitarist Larry Carlton. Moving across the space of her entire career, it is a moving, engaging, and utterly transcendent recording, offered in an era when live records sucked -- they were no longer live but edited heavily in the studio. This box features each album's original liner notes, as well as a host of stunning photographs. But besides the elegant package, the music tells the story of an artist who pushed herself beyond the laurels of her living legend, who worked at trying to find, in the swirling winds of change, a complexity outside her accepted norm, and finally, a relevant, constantly evolving place for herself as an artist. The evidence is in: she succeeded in spades. ~ Thom Jurek
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Folk - Released September 8, 2014 | Stage Door

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Pop - Released March 7, 2017 | Rarity Music

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Folk - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

By late 1965, most members of the folk community were feeling the pressure of a changing music world -- between the presence of folk-rock bands like the Byrds and newer outfits like the Beau Brummels and the Leaves coming up, not to mention Bob Dylan himself going electric, they were now competing against some high-wattage (in the most literal sense) rivals for the attention of audiences. Most wilted in that environment, but Baez rose to the occasion, partly because she was able to; her voice was one of the most hauntingly beautiful in the world, and she was no slouch when it came to finding (and later writing) good songs. To be sure, her sixth album is top-heavy with Bob Dylan songs, including the title track, which he never officially recorded -- on that basis alone, it attracted a lot of attention from his fans -- and her epic rendition of "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," which can stand up next to Dylan's own for sheer, sustained power, and her falsetto-driven performance of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" didn't hurt in that department. But rather than relying on the Dylan repertory to sell the album, she made Farewell, Angelina worthwhile all the way through. Of the two traditional songs here, "The River in the Pines" is a throwback to Baez's simple, unadorned early sound; but "Wild Mountain Thyme" is something new and special, her understated yet jaunty-tempo rendition almost minimalist in its scoring, yet it sticks with the listener as long (or longer) than, say, the Byrds' recording. Her version of Woody Guthrie's "Ranger's Command" should be heard for its sheer lyricism and loveliness, and her recording of Donovan's "Colours" might even have been a hit single if it had been handled right -- Bruce Langhorne's amplifier turned up one notch, from 3 to 4, might've done it. "A Satisfied Mind" was not only a stunning recording (especially on the final verse), but took her one step closer to the country music sound and repertory that would enrich Baez's music in the second half of the '60s. And she even managed to give a special nod to Pete Seeger's universal notions of pacifism by including a German version of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." Beyond Baez's singing, the album is also worth hearing for Langhorne's guitar work and the performance of Richard Romoff on string bass on "Wild Mountain Thyme" and "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall." This would be the last time that Baez would work with so small, spare, or deceptively simple an accompaniment -- the next time out, she'd have a full orchestra and then a complement of Nashville musicians backing her. ~ Bruce Eder
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Folk - Released May 5, 1972 | A&M Records

After recording for the folk label Vanguard for more than a decade, Baez moved to A&M. On this label debut, she maintained her interest in country music, recording in Nashville with some of the city's session aces. She also continued to dedicate herself to radical politics, from her set opener "Prison Trilogy," which pledged, "We're gonna raze the prisons to the ground," to the closer, John Lennon's "Imagine." In between were her call on Bob Dylan to return to protest music ("To Bobby") and her sister Mimi Farina's touching tribute to Janis Joplin, "In the Quiet Morning." ~ William Ruhlmann
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World - Released January 1, 1974 | A&M

Despite her Latin heritage, Joan Baez probably wouldn't have been encouraged by her 1960s record label, the New York-based independent Vanguard, to sing an entire album in Spanish. At A&M Records, the Los Angeles firm co-founded by Herb Alpert that she joined in the early '70s, however, it would have been a different story, and it was A&M that released Gracias a la Vida ("Here's to Life") in 1974. Baez demonstrates an affinity for Mexican folk music on such obvious choices as "Cucurrucucu Paloma," but it's no surprise that, a year after the assassination of leading nueva canción folksinger Victor Jara in a military coup in Chile, an atrocity that shocked the American folk community, she has not backed away from her political commitments. There is "Guantanamera," a song that may have been a Top Ten U.S. hit for the Sandpipers in 1966, but that has political implications, as Pete Seeger has been reminding listeners for more than a decade. There is a Spanish version of "We Shall Not Be Moved" ("No Nos Moveran") with a lengthy spoken introduction. There are songs like "El Preso Numero Nueve" ("Prisoner Number Nine"; repeated from 1960's Joan Baez) and "Esquinazo del Guerrillero" ("The Guerillas Serenade"). And, inevitably, there is a song of Jara's, "Te Recuerdo Amanda" ("I Remember You Amanda"), which the slain singer wrote for his mother. But then there is also "Dida," a wordless duet with Joni Mitchell. Throughout, Baez demonstrates her mastery of Spanish singing over authentic arrangements while attempting to stir up her Spanish-speaking listeners just as she does their English-speaking compatriots. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Folk - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

This album draws tracks from Joan Baez's appearances at the 1963, 1964, and 1965 Newport Folk Festivals, a time period in which she was the very epicenter of the folk scene. With her clear, strong, and bell-like soprano, Baez brought together traditional-folk materials with some of the best songs of the then-emerging songwriters of the so-called folk revival (she was the introduction for many to the work of Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Richard Fariña, and others), projecting a thematic unity between the old and the new that was instrumental in the success of the 1960s folk boom. This collection isn't quite as striking as her other live albums from this period, although only by degree, and there are several interesting tracks here, including the opener, a live version of Dylan's beautiful "Farewell Angelina," which seems almost written for (or about?) Baez. A duet with Mary Travers on "Lonesome Valley" is another highlight, as is an audience singalong on "Johnny Cuckoo." The final two tracks, "It Ain't Me Babe" and "With God on Our Side," are duets with Dylan, and while these performances may have strong historical value, the truth is that Baez and Dylan didn't sing well together at this point in their association, with both singers dragging the song in two different directions at once, almost as if it were a battle for dominance, which, time suggests, it may well have been. ~ Steve Leggett
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Folk - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

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Folk - Released November 3, 2008 | Columbia

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Folk - Released April 3, 2011 | Proper Records

Proving that Joan Baez never really goes away, Play Me Backwards is a fine 1992 release from the legendary singer/songwriter. The smooth production of Wally Wilson and Kenny Greenberg frames her voice beautifully, with a contemporary, yet undated sound. And, with songs courtesy of Mary-Chapin Carpenter, John Hiatt, and Janis Ian, how can you go wrong? Although it's not a ground-breaking artistic achievement, it's Joan Baez, and it's definitely an enjoyable way to pass 40 minutes. Getting things started, the bouncy groove of the percussive title track belies its tale of a stolen childhood. The images drawn are vivid, and the pain recalled in the reclaiming is tangible, but forgiving. The wistful melancholy of Ian's "Amsterdam" is gorgeously handled with a delicate maturity, as is Hiatt's triumphantly hopeful "Through Your Hands." In another upbeat swing, "I'm With You" is one of the main highlights of the record. Dedicated to her son Gabe, Baez vows her steadfast support and presence as he makes his way into a life of his own. Any kid would be proud to have such a tribute showcasing their parent's unconditional love. The album closes with another loving family honor. Written for her father, "Edge of Glory" is the opposite bookend to "I'm With You," as it contemplates the attempts of pleasing and healing in the father-daughter relationship. From child to mother and all stops in between, Play Me Backwards details an emotional journey as seen through the eyes of Baez. It's a lovely trip. ~ Kelly McCartney
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Folk - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

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Folk - Released December 6, 2009 | Proper Records

By the mid-'90s, Joan Baez had been around long enough to assume the mantle of grand matron of the folk scene. Ring Them Bells finds her freshening her sound by tapping into the revivified singer/songwriter genre of the mid-'90s, an especially strong time for women artists. For this live album (recorded at the Bottom Line in New York City) Baez enlisted an impressive roster of women, sharing the stage with the likes of Indigo Girls, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Mary Black. And while the collaborations tend to be casual and lack a certain finish, there's added interest in hearing Baez backed up by those who were undoubtedly influenced by her style. That's obviously the raison d'etre for this disc, which otherwise might have been just another throwaway live album. The strength of the album lies in the diverse set list. It spans Baez's career: the usual standards like "Diamonds & Rust" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (sung a cappella), are bolstered by traditional folk songs like "Lily of the West." She peppers her own repertoire with an ample range of covers, including "Suzanne," Janis Ian's "Jesse," and more recent offerings from Dar Williams and Indigo Girls. Baez was still listening to Bob Dylan's work, as evidenced by her delicate treatment of "Ring Them Bells," a hymn-like gem from Oh Mercy. There's a gentle, unifying force in these performances -- as if Baez is tying up 30-plus years of folk and singer/songwriter tradition, sweeping across the land, and liking what she sees. ~ Jim Esch

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