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Folk/Americana - Released February 1, 1972 | Columbia - Legacy

With mid-'60s gems like Violets of Dawn, Thirsty Boots, and Close the Door Lightly, Eric Andersen became the archetypal, literate romantic before the likes of James Taylor and Jackson Browne had even cut their first records, but at the same time seemed to lack direction from album to album. With his eighth album, Blue River, recorded in Nashville in 1972, he found the perfect setting for his gentle, poetic songs. After nearly seven years of dabbling in folk, folk-rock, pop, and country, Andersen found a smart, sympathetic ear in producer Norbert Putnam. Putnam, whose production here is rarely extraneous, utilizes subtle touches of bass, drums, accordion, and organ along with Andersen's own guitar, piano, and harmonica to frame the material. The record, Andersen's first effort for Columbia, also featured his best collection of tunes to date. Blue River, with its themes of uncertainty and struggle, is by no means a casual record, although songs such as the bittersweet "Is It Really Love at All" and the title track, featuring Joni Mitchell's ethereal supporting vocal, will draw the listener in with their sheer beauty. Andersen, then in his late twenties, was dealing with questions of love, life, and desire with a maturity matched only by a handful of songwriters at the time. Never overly precious or maudlin, nearly every cut resonates with eloquence and grace. Although continuing to grow as a writer in the years to come, Blue River remains Eric Andersen's masterwork and one of the true classics of the genre. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 14, 1975 | Arista - Legacy

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Folk/Americana - Released June 16, 1989 | Earecords

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Rock - Released November 15, 1991 | Legacy - Columbia

Eric Andersen's long-thought lost album Stages features superior versions of six tunes which were reworked for Be True to You, as well as three previously unavailable tracks. The record's centerpiece, the 8½-minute meditation "Time Run Like a Freight Train," and is as good as anything Andersen has written, while "Woman, She Was Gentle" (with Joan Baez on backing vocals) and "Moonchild River Song" (presented for the first time on record with all three verses) are exquisite examples of his romanticism at its best. He also shows a tougher side here with cuts like the Beat-inspired paean to Patti Smith, "Wild Crow Blues," and the tongue-in-cheek rocker "I Love to Sing My Ballad Mama (But They Only Wanna Hear Me Rock and Roll)." Also included along with the nine original tracks, is the entrancing "Dream to Rimbaud," recorded around the time of Blue River, and three new songs -- the Band-inspired ballad "Make It Last (Angel in the Wind)" (featuring Garth Hudson and Rick Danko), the tender "Lie With Me" and "Soul of My Song," an English translation of a song by Norwegian singer/songwriter Jonas Fjeld. The new tunes which fit nicely on the record, also featured appearances by Fjeld, Shawn Colvin, Willie Nile and Eric Brazilian of the Hooters. Whether or not Stages would have boosted Eric Andersen into mainstream acceptance is anybody's guess, but it does give us a chance to hear a timeless piece of work by an artist at the height of his craft. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released September 3, 1999 | Earecords

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Folk/Americana - Released February 22, 2000 | Appleseed

This umpteenth collection from veteran folkie Andersen is his most diverse and adventurous in years. Pairing Andersen with Lou Reed on the affecting title cut here may seem like a strange idea, but it makes sense when you hear it. There are also four excellent, recently unearthed tracks that Andersen co-wrote with the late Townes Van Zandt, and a couple of strong original ballads, the best of which -- the moody "Magdalena" about a close friend who died in a car crash -- may alone be worth the price of admission. Less successful are some of the tracks Andersen recorded with Delta blues musicians. The backup is excellent but as Andersen admits in the liner notes, he is not a blues artist, and these tracks fail to take full advantage of his strengths. They also seem tossed off, and indeed they were. Andersen says that since it took him eight years to record his last album, he decided to make this one "quickly and simply." He recorded the blues tracks in two days, and they may leave you wondering whether there might have been some good middle ground between two days and eight years. Overall, though, this is terrific stuff. Particularly if you're already a fan, you won't be disappointed with the lion's share of it. © Jeff Burger /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released February 22, 2000 | Appleseed

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Folk/Americana - Released February 25, 2003 | Appleseed

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Folk/Americana - Released September 21, 2004 | Appleseed

This is the first of a projected two-volume set by singer/songwriter Eric Andersen showcasing the songs of his youth, by some of its best-known as well as by all-but-forgotten songwriters from the New York Greenwich Village scene of the early- to mid-'60s. There are modern versions of classics like Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier," Bob Dylan's "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall," Tim Hardin's "Misty Roses," and Fred Neil's "The Other Side of This Life," and Phil Ochs' "I Ain't Marching Anymore." There are tunes that are now considered obscure tunes too, such as Paul Siebel's "Louise," David Blue's "These 23 Days in September," Patrick Sky's "Many a Mile," Peter La Farge's "Johnny Half-Breed." As well as a pair of originals, in the title track and "Waves of Freedom." What this all amounts to is nothing more than nostalgia. First there's the package: There are no less than three sets of liner notes including an utterly verbose, florid, self-indulgent insult to the intelligence by writer Glenn O'Brien. Next is the music itself. Andersen, despite his plethora of musical guests like Pete Kennedy, Wyclef Jean, Happy Traum, John Sebastian and Sky adds nothing to this material. Andersen's voice is shot; it's ragged and his delivery ridiculously stresses how "important" these songs are, or at least how important they are supposed to be. Make no mistake, they made a difference once, they were anthems and road signs for what was at that time a new consciousness among America's youth -- not the least of which is Andersen's "Waves of Freedom," which is easily the best song on the set. Most of the arrangements here don't work either. A case in point is the army of bagpipes, penny whistles and military drums that overwhelm "I Ain't Marching Anymore": they utterly undermine the poignant meaning and intention of the tune. Actually, in almost every instance, Andersen's ragged manner makes these songs seem like ghosts who've been haunting the landscape for far too long and wish to move on to their rest. Rather than inspire, Andersen's recording comes off as beaten, lost, and bewildered. It feels as if he's trying to convince himself that these songs still mean something, rather than his listeners. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released September 21, 2004 | Appleseed

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Folk/Americana - Released October 18, 2005 | Appleseed

The folk music movement centered in New York's Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, although it was steeped in traditional repertoire, it quickly focused on new, original songs written by the performers themselves, songs that explored mature personal concerns and commented on the social and political issues of the day. Eric Andersen was a part of that movement while it was happening, so his "Great American Song Series," the second volume of which is called Waves (following the first volume, 2004's The Street Was Always There) represents a participant interpreting the compositions of his peers. Unlike, say, Rod Stewart recording his Great American Songbook series of pre-rock standards with little sense of what those songs were about, this is more what you might get if, for example, Hoagy Carmichael had made an album of the songs of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin. In fact, that comparison is particularly apt because Carmichael, though of the same generation as those songwriters, was actually just a little younger, which is also true of Andersen, who was born after, but within a few years, of every songwriter he covers on this album except John Sebastian (and Sebastian is less than a year younger). Andersen may have been closest to Phil Ochs personally among these musical friends, but he did not share Ochs' focus on politics, which tended to make his interpretations of songs like "I Ain't Marching Anymore" on The Street Was Always There less than convincing. Here, he sticks to Ochs' sad, lovely, and apolitical "Changes," to which he is much more suited. But he shows the greatest affinity for moody, introspective singer/songwriters like Tim Buckley ("Once I Was") and Fred Neil ("I've Got a Secret"), recalling their phrasing while adding his own style as a gloss. (Similarly, the Neil and Tim Hardin songs provided the best moments on The Street Was Always There.) Andersen himself probably wouldn't claim to have improved upon the original artists' versions of these songs, but covering them provides a different perspective, brings them up to date, and may help rescue some of them from obscurity. "If Eric has done his job," writes annotator Robbie Woliver, "I hope you will trek down to your local record store ...." As the two albums appear to have been recorded at the same sessions, this is probably the end of Andersen's musical reminiscence, and he seems to have covered the obvious bases. Still, there's more where these came from, and there are still a few people (Richie Havens and Mark Spoelstra, to name two) so far unrepresented, so a third volume would not be amiss. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released October 18, 2005 | Appleseed

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

Between 1965 and 1969, Eric Andersen made his mark as the resident romantic of the East Coast folk scene. He also drifted through various musical styles and phases during this period. The Best of Eric Andersen (originally two LPs, reissued on one CD) covers his journeys through Woody Guthrie-style folk ("Dusty Box Car Wall," "My Land Is a Good Land"), Dylanesque imagery ("The Hustler, "a diatribe written for Dylan), folk-rock (he rerecorded his most popular album of the time, 'Bout Changes and Things, with a three-piece band), country ("Just a Country Dream") and poetic love songs ("Violets of Dawn"), and it's a good introduction to Andersen's inconsistent early career. All of his best-known songs from the Vanguard years are here, including "Thirsty Boots," inspired by civil rights organizer Gil Turner, the country-folk "Close the Door Lightly," the exquisite "Violets of Dawn" and the tradition-based American folk of "Dusty Box Car Wall." Andersen, whose long and varied career has ranged from brilliant to lackluster, is an artist desperately in need of a comprehensive anthology. Of the three collections of his material released over the years (two concentrate on his work with particular labels), only the long-deleted The Best Songs (1977) included tracks from his best record, Blue River(1972), which is indispensable on its own and a must for any Eric Andersen retrospective. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

Vanguard Records' 1999 Eric Andersen compilation Violets of Dawn differs in only four tracks out of 18 from its 1970 compilation The Best of Eric Andersen, and the selection is marginally improved. (The major difference is that Violets of Dawn contains two rare tracks, "Boots of Blue" and "Rambler's Lament," from the 1964 compilation New Folks, Vol. 2.) The sound, remastered from the original analog tapes, is much improved. Like its similar predecessor, Violets of Dawn collects the most impressive efforts from Andersen's '60s Vanguard recordings, including the title track, "Thirsty Boots," "Close the Door Lightly When You Go," and "Come to My Bedside." It also traces Andersen's musical development from acoustic folk to folk-rock and country, a development that shadowed Bob Dylan's progression during the same period. And it stops short of the excellent work Andersen did with Blue River (1972) on Columbia and Be True to You (1975) on Arista. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2007 | Vanguard Records

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Folk/Americana - Released March 27, 2007 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Folk/Americana - Released March 27, 2007 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Folk/Americana - Released May 22, 2007 | Appleseed

Eric Andersen got his start as a singer/songwriter just about the time the folk revival went bust in the mid-'60s, when the phrase "singer/songwriter" wasn't familiar, as it is today. Now, some 40 years later, Andersen continues to follow his muse, which includes a deep investment in the blues on the live Blue Rain. Andersen's voice seems to have grown richer and has developed more texture over the span of time, something that rarely happens to rock singers; as a result, his readings of familiar lyrics carry more weight. He kicks off the set with a slow, menacing version of Fred Neil's "The Other Side of This Life." For folk fans, the song is overly familiar, but Andersen's vocal provides a darker underpinning than the usual, adding a new dimension to this well-worn classic. This and songs like "The Blues Keep Fallin' Like the Rain" might even leave one to wonder if Andersen is channeling Neil. To sweeten the blues mix, Andersen is joined by a solid band that never overplays, giving Blue Rain a simple, no-frills approach. There's more upbeat stuff, with Andersen exchanging his guitar for keyboards, but even here, certain titles -- "Don't It Make You Wanna Sing the Blues" -- can't get away from the album's overarching mood. Blue Rain is a good place to reacquaint oneself with a fine musician and singer. © Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released May 22, 2007 | Appleseed