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

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

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Folk/Americana - 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

Pop - Released March 7, 2017 | Rarity Music

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Folk/Americana - 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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Folk/Americana - 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/Americana - Released November 8, 1976 | A&M Records

This isn't only not the place to start listening to Joan Baez, it's the album that separates the true fans from the, um, fellow travelers. Side two is taken up by the title song, a musical account of Baez's trip to Hanoi over Christmas of 1972, complete with the sound of U.S. bombs falling on the city. Side one, on the other hand, contains one of Baez's best original songs, "A Young Gypsy," and two by her sister, "Mary Call" and "Best of Friends." ~ William Ruhlmann
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Folk/Americana - 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/Americana - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

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

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Folk/Americana - Released November 3, 2008 | Columbia

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2007 | Vanguard Records

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

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2005 | Vanguard Records

With Blessed Are..., Joan Baez found herself with a hit single on the charts. That song, a cover of Robbie Robertson's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," is just one of the many surprises on Blessed Are... Once again using some of Nashville's finest pickers and songwriters, Baez runs the gamut of such influences as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Mickey Newberry, Jesse Winchester, Stevie Wonder and, of course, herself, while sounding nothing more than like Joan Baez always has. Great music, and a lot of it, too, for when it was released on vinyl, it was a double album with a special 7" single included. Altogether, 22 tracks of some of Joan's finest. ~ James Chrispell
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Folk/Americana - Released August 28, 1990 | Epic

On her second album for CBS's Portrait label (and her last new album issued in the U.S. for eight years), Baez was given a full-scale pop-rock production by veteran Barry Beckett and the studio band in Muscle Shoals, AL. The result, on songs that range from "Let Your Love Flow" to "Before the Deluge," is accessible but not particularly memorable '70s-style pop. If you always wanted to know what the words to "No Woman, No Cry" are, however, this is the place to find out. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

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

When Joan Baez began recording and performing during the late '50s and early '60s, she carved out a niche for herself as a remarkable singer of traditional music. In 1966 she released Noël, an album of seasonal songs notable for its variety and the fact that she sung two selections in German. One would expect to see "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and "Deck the Halls," but Baez adds lesser-known gems like "Ave Maria" and "Coventry Carol," along with instrumental versions of "Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella" and "Adeste Fideles." The arrangements, while not unusual for a holiday album, were something new for a Baez album. Lutes, violas, harpsichord, strings, and wind instruments provide a classical setting for Baez's lovely soprano. In this setting, her voice becomes more formal and mannered. The 2001 reissue of Noël also includes several bonus tracks, including a French version of "Away in a Manger." Baez's fans will probably be split on the quality of the album. Fans of her early traditional albums will find these arrangements and stylized vocals miles away from folk music; fans of Baez's pure soprano who never concerned themselves with genre purity will find Noël a must-have album for the holidays. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

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Folk/Americana - Released November 8, 1976 | A&M Records

Joan Baez's landmark Diamonds & Rust found her at the peak of her singer/songwriter skills, seemingly capable of transitioning out of '60s protest mode into a more contemporary and commercially viable position. It was also around this time that she toured with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, and according to Baez's memoirs, she wrote the songs for Gulf Winds during that tour. But Gulf Winds, her last A&M album, was a significant drop off and marked the beginning of what would be a steep commercial decline. Produced by David Kershenbaum, the album tries its best to bolster Baez with a timely '70s studio sound, but for the most part it misses the mark. The songs just aren't up to the task. "Sweeter for Me" sports a nice arppegiated piano by Baez and faintly harks to the melancholy brilliance of Diamonds & Rust, but, lyrically, most of the material is overwritten. The more stinging, faster-paced "O Brother!" is a more successful stab at a commercial sound, and Baez sings it with a bitter venom (you can't help but speculate that the song refers to Dylan himself). The standout track on an otherwise forgettable album, though, is surely the title track, "Gulf Winds," a ten-and-a-half-minute solo epic in the mold of her early work, just Joan and her acoustic guitar, brilliantly picked and sung, ironically demonstrating that, although Baez still had the talent, she couldn't capitalize on the success of Diamonds and Rust and the times were passing her by. ~ Jim Esch
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Pop - Released April 1, 1975 | A&M

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