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Pop - Released January 1, 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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 1, 1975 | A&M

With the Vietnam War winding down, Joan Baez, who had devoted one side of her last album to her trip to Hanoi, delivered the kind of commercial album A&M Records must have wanted when it signed her three years earlier. But she did it on her own terms, putting together a session band of contemporary jazz veterans like Larry Carlton, Wilton Felder, and Joe Sample, and mixing a wise selection from the work of current singer-songwriters like Jackson Browne and John Prine with pop covers of Stevie Wonder and the Allman Brothers Band, and an unusually high complement of her own writing. A&M, no doubt recalling the success of her cover of the Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," released her version of the Allmans' "Blue Sky" as a single, and it got halfway up the charts. But the real hit was the title track, a self-penned masterpiece on the singer's favorite subject, her relationship with Bob Dylan. Outdoing the current crop of confessional singer/songwriters at soul baring, Baez sang to Dylan, reminiscing about her '60s love affair with him intensely, affectionately, and unsentimentally. It was her finest moment as a songwriter and one of her finest performances, period, and when A&M finally released it on 45, it made the Top 40, propelling the album to gold status. But those who bought the disc for "Diamonds & Rust" also got to hear "Winds of the Old Days," in which Baez forgave Dylan for abandoning the protest movement, as well as the jazzy "Children and All That Jazz," a delightful song about motherhood, and the wordless vocals of "Dida," a duet with Joni Mitchell accompanied by Mitchell's backup band, Tom Scott and the L.A. Express. The cover songs were typically accomplished, making this the strongest album of Baez's post-folk career. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

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Folk/Americana - Released October 1, 1960 | Craft Recordings

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Pop - Released August 2, 2019 | Craft Recordings

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Folk/Americana - Released May 5, 1972 | A&M

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

At the time of its release, Joan Baez's debut album was something of a revelation. The folk music revival was beginning to gather steam, stoked on the popular side by artists such as the Kingston Trio and the Easy Riders, as well as up-and-coming ensembles such as the Highwaymen, and on the more intense and serious side by the Weavers. The female singers on the scene were mostly old-time veteran activist types like Ronnie Gilbert and Malvina Reynolds, who was in her sixties. And then along comes this album, by a 19-year-old who looked more like the kind of co-ed every mother dreamt her son would come home with, displaying a voice from heaven, a soprano so pure and beguiling that the mere act of listening to her -- forget what she was singing -- was a pleasure. Baez's first album, made up primarily of traditional songs (including a startling version of "House of the Rising Sun"), was beguiling enough to woo even conservative-leaning listeners. Accompanied by the Weavers' Fred Hellerman and a pair of session singers, Baez gives a fine account of the most reserved and least confrontational aspects of the folk revival, presenting a brace of traditional songs (most notably "East Virginia" and "Mary Hamilton") with an urgency and sincerity that makes the listener feel as though they were being sung for the first time, and opening with a song that was to become her signature piece for many years, "Silver Dagger." The recording was notable for its purity of sound. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 1976 | A&M

Listening to this album a quarter century after the fact is an eerie experience; as a Baez fan of the same period and of a politically similar orientation at the time, this reviewer was shocked by the vitriol of the opening number, "(Ain't Gonna Let Nobody) Turn Me Around," especially given that the shows where this album was recorded dated from 1975. Was anyone (except maybe the Reagan-ites) ever really that angry at the Ford administration? Otherwise, Baez's trembling falsetto is in beautiful shape on songs ranging from Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" to "Oh, Happy Day." The album was recorded on the tour supporting the release of Diamonds & Rust, but nothing of that album except the title track is represented here; rather, Baez performs five Bob Dylan songs (which get the most rousing reception), three of her better originals, including "Blessed Are" and "Diamonds and Rust," and a brace of traditional songs and covers of a handful of other composers' work, including "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Apart from the opening outpouring of political venom, there's not too much controversy here -- a pair of songs, "Natalia" and "The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzett," dedicated to political prisoners and an ambitious but ultimately awkward adaptation of "Stewball" are as topical as most of the show gets. Baez is in superb voice and the backing septet, mostly heard on the second disc, has a surprisingly lean sound. Ultimately, From Every Stage is a good, albeit far slicker follow-up to Baez's two early-'60s live albums on Vanguard, though it says something about the nature of her history at A&M Records that five years into her contract with that label, all but a handful of the songs here were associated with her prior record label. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released March 30, 2018 | Joan Baez

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 1990 | Vanguard Records

The First 10 Years is an excellent overview of Joan Baez's first decade of recording, balancing her work as an interpreter of both traditional and contemporary folk songs. There may be a few fan favorites missing, but all the essentials are here, making it an excellent introduction for the novice. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

Joan Baez's second album, recorded when she was 20 years old, is a hearty helping of folk masterpieces that give ample evidence to exactly how she was established as a leader of the contemporary folk scene of the day. The material chosen is truly exceptional, from the beautifully stark British ballad "The Trees They Do Grow High" to the tragic tales of death and lost love in "Engine 143" and "Banks of the Ohio," which recall the Carter Family in presentation as much as spirit. Without a doubt, Baez's version of "Pal of Mine" is every bit as vibrant as when the Carters recorded it, though here given a more bluegrass sound by the banjo and backup vocal accompaniment of the Greenbriar Boys. The traditional Christmas tune "The Cherry Tree Carol" is presented perfectly by Baez's gorgeous arrangement. Baez is a true master of her craft, and though she hasn't always made the best choices for material, the 14 interpretations here are as timeless as the songs themselves. Similar to Bob Dylan's self-titled debut, this is an album that all fans of traditional folk music should seek out. [In August of 2001, Joan Baez, Vol. 2 was reissued in an audiophile remastered edition, with new annotation and containing three additional songs from the same sessions -- all are a match for anything on the original album, and "I Once Loved a Boy" and "The Longest Train I Ever Saw" count among the saddest, most emotionally enveloping songs of Baez's early career.] © Matt Fink & Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

Originally released in 1962, In Concert, Pt. 1 captures the undisputed queen of folk music at the onset of her fabled career. Featuring 20-bit remastering from the original analog tapes, exact replicas of the original artwork and liner notes, previously unreleased cuts, and additional liner notes, this installment of Vanguard's Original Master Series is a historic collection of contemporary and traditional folk. Though Baez was reportedly suffering from stage fright at the time of these recordings, which were cobbled from the fall of 1961 to the spring of 1962, her delivery is crystal clear and confident. The exhaustive selection of material represents her diverse influences, most notably African tradition ("Kumbaya"), gospel ("Gospel Ship"), negro spiritual ("My Lord What a Morning"), West African ("Danger Waters"), Brazilian ("Ate Amanha," which is sung in Portuguese), and blues ("Babe I'm Gonna Leave You"), Baez's performances still retain freshness and vitality after four decades. © Tom Semioli /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2006 | Vanguard Records

Like its predecessor, Joan Baez in Concert, Pt. 1, this live album was a huge success, making the Top Ten. However, though it was recorded not long after Joan Baez in Concert, Pt. 1 and is also a live album on which the only accompaniment is her own acoustic guitar, it's not merely a second set of recordings of similar material. Her repertoire was evolving from purely traditional folk to encompass significant work by contemporary folksinger/songwriters. Most prominent among those, of course, was Bob Dylan, and In Concert, Pt. 2 features her first two Dylan covers, "With God on Our Side" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right." For that alone, the album was notable, but there were other notable expansions into interesting new territory, like the country classic "Long Black Veil," Derroll Adams' great melancholy "Portland Town," the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome," and bossa nova great Luiz Bonfá's "Manha de Carnaval." Baez's growth was not so radical as to alienate any of her folk followers, and the album still featured several traditional folk songs of the sort that had launched her career, like "Once I Had a Sweetheart" and "Jackaroe." The introduction of less-hidebound excursions, though, did much to lighten her approach and keep her from falling into too much of a maiden-of-constant-sorrow rut. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2005 | Vanguard Records

Recorded in October of 1968, Any Day Now marks Joan Baez's first foray into the recording studios of Nashville, armed with an entire program of Bob Dylan's material and backed by a cast of Music City's finest session players. Dylan himself, coming out of an imposed exile after a motorcycle crash, had issued only one recording since 1966's Blonde on Blonde; his low-key "comeback" outing, John Wesley Harding, released in December of 1967, had also been recorded in Nash Vegas with some of the same A-list players. Baez's interpretations on this double album are simply stellar. Her empathy for the material, her keen understanding of Dylan's sound world, and her own glorious voice brought another dimension to these 16 songs and, if anything, extended their meanings. There is no greater interpreter of Dylan's music, and while evidence of that certainly was offered on earlier recordings (such as 1967's Joan), the verdict was solidified here. The album's most famous track is "Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word," and because of the definitive performance of it here, it has basically belonged to Baez ever since. Another fine choice is "Walls of Redwing," a tune Dylan rarely performed and no one had yet recorded. Baez's read of "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" brings its full complexity to the fore. Though Dylan later confessed (after Joan and Bob split) to writing it for his wife, Sara, on the album Desire, there is plenty in the song that alludes to his relationship with Baez. Her version of the song is almost identical in length (11:15 to Dylan's 11:22) and is utterly beguiling. Likewise, her a cappella approach to "Tears of Rage," which immediately follows, is a beautiful version with a strangely fascinating placement. The bottom line is that Any Day Now, like Joan and David's Album, found Baez at an intensely inspirational and creative peak. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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World - Released April 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 /TiVo
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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 /TiVo