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

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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 May 1, 1975 | A&M

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

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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 /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 1972 | 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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Pop - Released August 2, 2019 | Craft Recordings

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Folk/Americana - Released November 3, 1980 | Columbia

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 1972 | A&M

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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

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 December 1, 1971 | Vanguard Records

This soundtrack intersperses acoustic live performances with politically oriented dialog, much of which is spoken by her then-husband, draft resister David Harris. It's certainly one of the most minor entries of her Vanguard catalog. The dialogue is distracting, and the music reasonable but uneven, as Baez offers interpretations of songs by Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Edwin Hawkins, Leonard Cohen, and "We Shall Overcome." Her cover of Aretha Franklin's "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," however, was not a good idea. © Richie Unterberger /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

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 November 1, 1976 | A&M

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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

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 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 June 10, 2016 | Joan Baez

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

An alternate cross-section of Baez's Vanguard music, including her monster hit "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2005 | Vanguard Records

One of the oft-overlooked aspects of Joan Baez's career in the 1960s is that after the first four albums, she never did the same thing twice; what's more, with the possible exception of the Baptism album, she succeeded at least 90 percent of the time in practically everything new that she tried during that decade. One Day at a Time is much closer to 100 percent on target, and was also startlingly new and daring at the time. Today it seems like no big deal, but in 1970 very few singers coming out of the folk scene as Baez did were reaching out to Willie Nelson ("One Day at a Time") and even the Rolling Stones ("No Expectations") for repertory, much less putting them on the same album with music by old leftist composers like Earl Robinson ("Joe Hill"), and then interspersing those songs with traditional country numbers. Even better, she was also writing her own songs, one of which, "Sweet Sir Galahad," ranks among the best songs that she ever recorded (no small compliment considering that the latter list includes much of the Dylan catalog, among other heavyweight compositional competition). She was in the middle of her country phase, mostly working with the best players in Nashville (who are a pleasure to hear as well), but One Day at a TIme has a freer, looser feel than David's Album or Blessed Are, both of which came out of the same orbit. Her version of "Long Black Veil" could've passed muster at The Grand Ol' Opry, and she could've cut these sessions with Dolly Parton, June Carter Cash, or any other female country singer of the era and not been out of place. The sheer, understated power of her voice on Delaney & Bonnie's "Ghetto" and on "Carry It On" is also something to behold, and makes one wonder what kind of a gospel singer Baez might have made in another reality. Yet she could also loosen up enough to do a pure piece of sentimental traditional country music like "Take Me Back to the Sweet Sunny South" and make it work, too. And amid those multi-tiered, widely spaced superlatives, One Day at a Time also had (and still has) an additional facet that should make it essential listening on another level, to yet another audience -- it's an excellent companion to and extension of Baez's appearance on the Woodstock album, as three of the cuts here feature her working with Jeffrey Shurtleff, who was her accompanist at the festival as well. © Bruce Eder /TiVo