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Pop - Released May 19, 1992 | Geffen

Most listeners will be satisfied with the excellent Jimmy Buffett summary Songs You Know By Heart, but anyone that wants to dig deeper should bypass the albums (there are several that are first-rate, yet many are spotty) and pick up the four-disc, 72-track box set, Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads. Assembled thematically, with each disc devoted to one of the words in the title, this rounds up not just every Buffett hit, but pretty much every one of his noteworthy album tracks, plus a couple of rarities and unreleased cuts. For some, this much Buffett may cause sunstroke, yet this proves that he had some fine moments that weren't singles, and even those that aren't Parrotheads will be impressed by the consistency of his music -- if you like Jimmy, he usually delivers what you like. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Country - Released May 29, 2020 | Mailboat Records


Pop - Released January 1, 1985 | Geffen*

Combining aloof humor with a laid-back, devil-may-care island attitude, Jimmy Buffett sang songs about alcohol consumption, lazing around in the sun, and the freedom of not having to work for a living. Songs You Know By Heart is a solid offering of Buffett's greatest hits, pulling together his truly strongest material and avoiding the unnecessary filler that appears on his albums. His claim to fame, "Margaritaville," is the jewel in the crown here, which still harbors that tropical feel thanks to its Caribbean-styled rhythm and relaxed flow. "Come Monday" picks up where "Margaritaville" leaves off, only this ballad plays out with subdued sincerity and has Buffett sounding strangely serious, and romantic. Most of the songs from Buffett are centered around his frolicking lifestyle, like the comical "Cheeseburger in Paradise" or the naughtiness of "Why Don't We Get Drunk," an ode to his party-filled outlook on life. Buffett's voice shines on the clever "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes," which again spotlights his love of living without concern, especially in someplace warm. The catchy and whimsical "Fins" is lifted by a contagious pace with a smart chorus and serves as one of the highlights of this collection. As a compilation, this bunch of Jimmy Buffett's most famous tunes contains just the right amount of tracks. Any less would be inconsistent and any more would be deemed as overkill. © Mike DeGagne /TiVo

Pop - Released January 1, 1977 | Geffen*

One reason why Jimmy Buffett's sixth album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, is his best record yet is simply the sound. Buffett's move from Don Gant, who produced his last four albums, to Norbert Putnam is a serious upgrade. Putnam, a bassist by trade with a talent for string arranging, specializes in working in Nashville with artists who don't quite belong in Nashville. His production of Eric Andersen's Blue River resulted in a masterpiece, and he's done quality work with the likes of Joan Baez, Neil Young, and Dan Fogelberg, creating a country-pop sound that achieves the crossover such artists crave. Putnam is a perfect fit for Buffett; he gives the music the polish Buffett's always needed. But that only explains the reason why the album works so well sonically. The main reason it's Buffett's best is the songs, most of which he wrote. Buffett has always been a good songwriter when he had the time to apply himself, and he's been developing a persona that reaches its culmination here. Or, it might be said that the persona takes a logical next step. Buffett's alter ego is something of a screwup, a guy who's on the road, sometimes defined as a traveling musician, and who fuels himself on liquor and recreational drugs. He wants to get home to his loved ones, but he's actually not in that much of a hurry to do so. The guy who sang "Come Monday" in 1974 ("I just want you back by my side") has evolved into someone who's been on the road so long that he and his pals "Wonder Why We Ever Go Home." He may, as he claims, "Miss You So Badly," but he also acknowledges, "The longer I'm gone the closer I feel to you." When he is at home, he is clearly at loose ends, and this is where Buffett's observations are most acute, as he leads off the LP's two sides with its two best songs. The title tune finds him world-weary yet ready to head off again. "If I wasn't crazy I would go insane," goes the chorus. And the culmination of it all comes on the irresistibly catchy, completely self-deprecating "Margaritaville," a guitar-strumming beach bum's declaration of purpose (or purposelessness). He can't remember how he got a new tattoo, he has cut his foot on the "pop top" of a beer can, and his heart seems to have been broken some time in the past (he doesn't seem to remember all that well), but soon his blender will finish stirring up his favorite drink and all will be well. The song is an anthem for the Buffett character and likely to prove an archetype. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo

Country - Released July 13, 2004 | Mailboat Records

Early in the 2000s, Jimmy Buffett experienced one of his periodic revivals thanks to the legions of contemporary country singers indebted to his sunny, relaxed party music. His influence had been bubbling under during the latter half of the '90s, but in 2003 he suddenly was front and center, performing a duet with Alan Jackson on the "Margaritaville"-styled smash "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," while echoes of his music were clearly heard in country's first superstar of the new millennium, Kenny Chesney. Never one to miss an opportunity -- or, as he puts it in the liner notes, "not being one to let a cultural phenomenon pass me by like a misguided comet" -- Buffett decided to go the whole hog and record his own country album, License to Chill, for the summer of 2004. He calls in a lot of favors here, drafting Jackson, Chesney, Toby Keith, Clint Black, George Strait, Martina McBride, Nanci Griffith, and, for a change of pace, Bill Withers, for duets on this generous 16-track album. Usually, such a surplus of guest stars overwhelms the main artist, but that isn't the case here, since everybody bends to fit Buffett's style instead of the reverse. These guests not only give Buffett a straight man for his jokes, but also help focus his musical direction and song selection, since it all feeds into the album's sun-kissed contemporary country direction. Musically, this isn't all that far removed from either his early-'70s work or "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," which is hardly a surprise, but what is surprising is that it's one of the most enjoyable latter-day albums from this notoriously inconsistent artist. There are still some overly silly, even embarrassing moments, such as the frequent tossed-off puns and the cringe-inducing "Simply Complicated," but these are the exceptions on this cheery collection of laid-back country-rockers and beach ballads. Again, the difference on License to Chill isn't the music, but the consistency of the songwriting and the performances, resulting not only in Buffett's strongest record in years, but an album that sits comfortably next to that new Kenny Chesney album, and that means he accomplished exactly what he set out to do. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Pop - Released January 1, 1974 | Geffen*

Before Jimmy Buffett became a novelist, entrepreneur, and founder of a business empire, he was a prolific singer/songwriter and a great storyteller. In the song "Migration," which chronicles his failed first marriage and his subsequent move to Florida, he sings "I got a Caribbean soul I can barely control and some Texas hidden here in my heart." This perfectly describes the music of Jimmy Buffett, who incorporates steel drums, harmonica, and slide guitar to tell stories about life by the sea. While many of the songs for which he is famous involve a life of leisure told with a keen sense of humor, Buffett is more thoughtful than your average beachcomber. In fact, the best moments on this album are the slower tunes such as "A Pirate Looks at Forty" where a reflective Buffett looks back at his lifelong love of the ocean and his place in the universe. A-1-A may be Buffett's most autobiographical album, as he sings about making music on his own terms in the opening up-tempo "Makin' Music for Money" and tells stories of his idyllic childhood in "Life Is Just a Tire Swing." As with most of Buffett's work, his stories convey the importance of enjoying life, living free, and doing as you please. This is one of Jimmy Buffett's classic '70s albums that established his persona, and it is a perfect introduction to his music. © Vik Iyengar /TiVo

Rock - Released November 6, 2007 | Mailboat Records

The two-CD/one-DVD set Live in Anguilla is part of Mailboat's long line of live Jimmy Buffett releases, and even if this contains many of his familiar standards, there's a new twist here. This was a concert recorded in an intimate setting, at the bar of reggae vocalist Bankie Banx in Rendezvous Bay in Anguilla -- a very cozy surrounding for a singer/songwriter who often plays much larger venues back in the states. Just over 3,000 concert-goers were able to attend and they paid for the privilege, but the money was turned over to charities and the set was documented for the Parrotheads back home. Those Parrotheads will find this set to be appealing -- not too much different from the standard Buffett set, but there are a handful of songs previously unavailable on a Buffett live album, and there is an appropriately relaxed vibe here that makes for a good time. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Pop - Released January 1, 1974 | Geffen* Records

With his second album, 1973's A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, Jimmy Buffett broke into the country LPs chart, courtesy of a minor hit single, "The Great Filing Station Holdup." That would seem to mark him as a promising up-and-coming country artist, with his third album, Living and Dying in ¾ Time, the next step. But Buffett exhibits an ambivalent attitude toward his career and the music business in general in the LP's songs, most of which he wrote. In fact, the best of them is "Come Monday," a melancholy ballad about being on the road and missing a loved one. "I spent four lonely days/In a brown L.A. haze/And I just want you back by my side," he sings plaintively. That theme has been explored so much by songwriters that it's hard to find a new way to go at it, and Buffett's success is indicative of his writing talent. He devotes that talent largely to talking about how much he dislikes Nashville, notably in such songs as "Brand New Country Star" (co-written by Vernon Arnold) and "Saxophones." In the former, he castigates a product of Nashville equally capable of going country or pop (which is odd, since he himself is hardly a traditional country musician), while in the latter he complains that he can't get radio play in his hometown of Mobile, AL. It may be that Buffett is determined to make it only on his own terms, and that those terms are more those of Texas singer/songwriters like Jerry Jeff Walker and Willis Alan Ramsey (whose "Ballad of Spider John" he covers here), or Gulf Coast blues artists like those he praises in "Saxophones," than of conventional country musicians. That's fair enough, but it makes it hard to complain that you're facing resistance. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo

Country - Released April 17, 2020 | Mailboat Records


Pop - Released January 1, 1978 | Geffen*

After his debut with 1970's Down to Earth, Jimmy Buffett released an album a year from 1973 to 1977, culminating with his commercial and artistic breakthrough, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, which apotheosized his beach-bum persona in its hit single "Margaritaville." A year later, he's back with his seventh album, Son of a Son of a Sailor, but things have changed. Now, Buffett has a high-profile manager in Irving Azoff (who is dressed like Napoleon in the high-fashion photo spread across the gatefold of the LP), and as his smiling, well-upholstered image on the cover shows, he's not a beach bum anymore; now he looks like the happy owner of a yacht. Accordingly, he isn't writing songs like "Margaritaville" anymore, either. The closest approximation to that is "Cheeseburger in Paradise," which might as well be a commercial jingle for a fast-food chain. The locus of the songs still tends to be in the Caribbean, the characters still lowlifes, but the personal touch is missing. Buffett is writing fiction now, and the edge is off. Having achieved the perfect expression of his world-view the last time around, and profited handsomely as a result, he is now no longer funny in a self-deprecating way that makes his songs touching. He was never one to take himself too seriously, but now he's veering toward self-parody. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo

Pop - Released January 1, 1996 | Geffen*

Banana Wind is typical latter-day Jimmy Buffett. Over a laidback, Caribbean-inflected folk-rock, Buffett waxes eloquent over boats, booze, sun, and women. Although the sound of the album certainly is pleasant, there's not a single distinctive song on the record, which means it's good for Parrotheads, but casual fans should let this Banana Wind sail on by. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Pop - Released January 1, 1973 | Geffen*

While it still lies much closer to Nashville than Key West (like in the boisterous slide guitar solo that lights up "The Great Filling Station Holdup"), Jimmy Buffett's A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean does begin to delineate the blowsy, good-timin' Key West persona that would lead him to summer tour stardom and the adoration of millions of drinking buddies everywhere. "Why Don't We Get Drunk," "Railroad Lady," and "Grapefruit -- Juicy Fruit" rightly became crowd pleasers. But Buffett reveals himself a storyteller with the touching sigh of "He Went to Paris," where a slide guitar appears again to lend a subtle gleam to the arrangement, or in the gorgeous, sweetly sad tale of a passed-away poet's unlikely posthumous success. It's in this wide-eyed honesty, as well as the winking sarcasm of the scrambling honky tonker "Peanut Butter Conspiracy" -- "We never took more than we could eat/And we always swore if we ever got rich, we'd pay the mini mart back" -- that Buffett's flair for easygoing accessibility really emerges. White Sport Coat has to be considered country and western music; its rambling acoustic guitars, twinges of harmonica, fiddle, and peddle steel will do that. But Buffett himself was a Nashville outcast almost from the beginning, and his southward migration began with this album. "I don't want fame that brings confusion," he sings in "My Lovely Lady," and declares his desire to get out of the Music City rat race for the more temperate climes and crab meat of the Florida Keys. Once there, the songwriting ingredients drifting through White Sport Coat and other early LPs caught the Caribbean breeze and really took off. This is highly recommended for Buffett completists and those interested in his more introspective side. © Johnny Loftus /TiVo

Pop - Released January 1, 2011 | Geffen* Records

Jimmy Buffett's first live set established the treasure chest of gags and grooves that would make the singer impossibly successful over the next 20-plus years. As an easygoing, '70s-sounding Buffett says at the beginning of "Grapefruit-Juicy Fruit," "I've been wanting to do a live album for (a long time) since that's where we have the best time." And he proves to be a gracious, goofy host, straying into rambling tangents of conversation and storytelling that are at least (if not more) entertaining than the music itself. Musically, "Pencil Thin Moustache" becomes amped-up barroom boogie rock, complete with a honking harmonica. The Coral Reefer Band imbues "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" with the creaking charm of a comfortable deck chair; with Buffett's smiling vocal on top, it sounds better than an open bar tab at a Caribbean beach café. Later, Buffett introduces his biggest hit with some prescient banter. "People ask me, 'Where the hell is "Margaritaville"?'" He suggests that the famed, fictional island might be at the bottom of a Cuervo bottle before saying "It's anywhere you want it to be." And with that, Buffett launches into the song that caused a thousand unplanned sick days. While his big hits sound great, low-key acoustic numbers like "God's Own Drunk" and "Captain and the Kid" show off his songwriting and guitar playing while keeping things light with funny asides. Fans of Buffett's show will recognize You Had to be There as a prototype of his later summertime extravaganzas; for everyone, it's simply an entertaining live album from an era when the concert industry wasn't yet contaminated by greed, gold level seating, and rote performances. © Johnny Loftus /TiVo

Pop - Released January 1, 1979 | Geffen* Records

After breaking into the mainstream with his hit "Margaritaville" two years earlier, Jimmy Buffett stuck to his formula of mixing fun, up-tempo songs with slower, reflective ones. Although the album contains concert favorites including the playful "Fins" and the Caribbean-flavored title track, it seems as if Buffett doesn't have as many deep insights to share on this release. The vocal help from James Taylor on "Treat Her Like a Lady" adds to the singalong chorus, but overall the ballads are uninteresting. As a result, this album marks a low point for Jimmy Buffett in a decade in which he delivered one solid album after another. However, Volcano is notable for its inclusion of a wonderful children's song ("Chanson Por les Petits Enfantes"), complete with nursery rhyme lyrics. This album is for Parrotheads only, as most of the popular tracks are available on compilations like Songs You Know By Heart. © Vik Iyengar /TiVo

Pop - Released January 1, 1986 | Geffen*

Apparently, Jimmy Buffett's rapprochement with Nashville is over. After two albums (Riddles in the Sand and Last Mango in Paris) that produced six country chart singles entries between 1984 and 1986, Floridays finds the singer/songwriter parting ways with the production team of Jimmy Bowen and Tony Brown, but sticking with third co-producer Michael Utley (who is also the keyboard player in his band and a sometime songwriting partner) with himself installed as executive producer. And the musical style, as can be heard from the beginning of the opening track, "I Love the Now" (co-written by Buffett and Carrie Fisher), is pop/rock with a Caribbean tinge. Buffett sometimes alters that style to accommodate the theme of a particular song, giving a Brazilian feel to "First Look," which is about visiting Rio, and a full-on Stax Records R&B arrangement, appropriately enough, to "Meet Me in Memphis." But this is a record by Jimmy Buffett in his familiar soft rock mode, not Jimmy Buffett the country crossover candidate. And that's a good idea, since Floridays is one of his more personal and self-reflective efforts, full of songs in which he waxes nostalgic ("Creola") or updates of old themes ("Nobody Speaks to the Captain No More"). As he did with "It's My Job," he finds another songwriter to pen the album's most self-justifying song, "If It All Falls Down," giving him plausible deniability if anyone takes offense. And he returns to bashing the entertainment industry in the comic closer, "You'll Never Work in Dis Bidness Again." Of course, he is at least partially serious about that. The album sleeve contains a notation at the bottom reading, "Fifteen down and one to go." What does that mean? Well, if you count the live album Feeding Frenzy and his greatest-hits LP, this is Buffett's 15th album for the label once known as ABC/Dunhill and now as MCA. Does he have only one record to go on a contract he doesn't plan to renew? So it would seem. Wonder if the folks in the marketing department at MCA have noticed the note and, if so, how it makes them feel about promoting Floridays. You'd think, with an attitude like that, Buffett might just be cruising (as he has been accused of doing on occasion). But Floridays is actually one of his better albums. Go figure. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo

Pop - Released June 28, 2017 | Mailboat Records

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Although Jimmy Buffet has never enjoyed tremendous record sales throughout his career, his concerts are always guaranteed sellouts. Buffett's rabidly loyal, often drunken, fun-seeking fan base, the parrotheads, are in no small way responsible for this fact. Buffett Live: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays tries to capture the essence of a live Buffett concert from the late '90s. This live set gives fans a handful of '90s Buffett tracks as well as many classics that have become staples of his live shows. Listening to tracks like "Fruitcakes," "Coconut Telegraph," and the fan favorite "Fins" (complete with Jaws theme music) you can't help but feel Buffett has brought the crowd to a place where they are having a great time and no one has a care in the world. This is a goal Buffett has always tried to provide for his fans, and he has almost always succeeded. Some of the strongest tracks presented here are "Trying to Reason with the Hurricane Season" and a cover of Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Southern Cross," which features gorgeous backing vocals provided by members of Buffett's Coral Reefer Band. Parrotheads who may feel they have heard most of these tracks on earlier live releases will be happy to hear "Margaritaville" -- complete with the lost verse -- and every longtime fan will love hearing Buffett dusting off the obscure classic "Tin Cup Chalice." This collection is a nice addition to the collection of a casual fan who already owns and enjoys Buffett's classic Songs You Know by Heart. Buffett's music may not change the world, but it certainly makes it more fun and for a sun-drenched, alcohol-soaked good time you still can't beat Jimmy Buffett. © Paul Tinelli /TiVo

Ambient/New Age - Released January 1, 1996 | Geffen*

Largely comprising original material, Jimmy Buffett's Christmas Island is a holiday album that only parrotheads need bother with. Though Buffett is relaxed and entertaining, few of his new Christmas songs are remarkable and his rearrangements of classic carols are rather forced. Still, Christmas Island remains a pleasant diversion for his dedicated fans, even if it isn't a particularly memorable one. © Thom Owens /TiVo

Pop - Released September 1, 2017 | Mailboat Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 1987 | Geffen*

In a sense, Jimmy Buffett has succeeded by inventing his own audience rather than addressing an existing one, carving out a hybrid style that is true to his Mobile, AL, roots with a musical style mixing pop, folk, and country with Caribbean elements and a lyrical persona as an easygoing Gulf Coast layabout addicted to sunshine and alcohol (with a few drugs thrown in). Since his breakthrough with "Margaritaville" in 1977, he has enjoyed four consecutive gold or platinum albums. If Coconut Telegraph continues that sequence, it won't be because he has fiddled with the formula. This is another collection of songs mostly written by Buffett and his friends (including Mac McAnally, J.D. Souther, and Dave Loggins) that continue to extol the lazy wonder of living well lubricated in tropical climates. To a certain extent, Buffett seems to acknowledge that he is selling a fantasy, in "Incommunicado" (which he wrote with Deborah McColl and M.L. Benoit) referencing the Travis McGee character in John D. MacDonald's mystery novels and John Wayne's portrayals in the movies. But he also gets across the implied arrogance of his stance in McAnally's "It's My Job," in which the songwriter defends himself as "better than the rest." That aspect is soft-pedaled, however, lest it be off-putting. Most of the time, Buffett is playing things for laughs in songs with titles like "Growing Old But Not Up" and "The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful." That's just how his large cult likes things, and Coconut Telegraph was made to service them. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo

Pop - Released January 1, 1989 | Geffen*

Like so many other established recording artists, Jimmy Buffett has felt obliged to adopt current studio tricks in an attempt to get back on the radio, and Off to See the Lizard, his 16th studio album, produced by Elliot Scheiner, is full of synth pop arrangements with loud drums and icy keyboard parts, so that (theoretically) the tracks will sound to radio programmers like what's already on the radio, circa 1989. Of course, this sort of audio facelift usually doesn't work in the short term or the long term, and it certainly doesn't here. Five songs on the album share titles with short stories in Buffett's best-selling book Tales from Margaritaville, but they don't necessarily re-create those stories. As usual, Buffett drops literary references, cites his love of sea and sand on the Gulf Coast, and praises the easy life ("I Wish Lunch Could Last Forever," which actually is a love song of sorts). The commercial calculation of the album's sound seems to belie the studied casualness, but then Buffett has always worked hard to give the appearance of not working at all. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo