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Folk/Americana - Released June 12, 2007 | Rhino - Elektra

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After the release of Judy Collins' Fifth Album in November 1965, Collins seems to have determined to expand her stylistic range instead of competing with such fellow commercial folksingers as Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary for the wares of contemporary singer/songwriters, especially since she often came in second. (PP&M, for example, had managed to get their version of Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain" out just before hers.) This meant not only seeking out new sources for material to cover, but also, in the wake of the folk-rock fad of 1965, employing more elaborate arrangements. So, on In My Life, she drew from the off-Broadway musical theater for such songs as "Pirate Jenny," from The Threepenny Opera, and a suite assembled from Marat/Sade; she also looked internationally, to France for Jacques Brel's "La Colombe" and to Canada for the first songs by poet/novelist Leonard Cohen, "Suzanne" and "Dress Rehearsal Rag." Then, she decamped to England with arranger/conductor Joshua Rifkin, who orchestrated the tracks in imaginative chamber pop settings. The result might have been pretentious or silly, but thankfully Collins, who had classical music training, knew what she was doing. The material was well chosen; the arrangements showed it off to perfection; and Collins' vocals were alternately soothing and stirring, but always clear and well articulated, as well as carefully pitched to the tone of the material. All of this made In My Life a breakthrough, artistically and commercially (the album eventually went gold). It also helped launch Cohen, who had never recorded or performed his music publicly at the time of its release, as a musical artist. The 2010 reissue on Collectors' Choice Music features liner notes by Richie Unterberger that benefit from an interview with Collins. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Folk/Americana - Released August 21, 2001 | Rhino - Elektra

Performers are known because of different qualities, like the ability to craft songs or sing with emotion. With folksingers like Judy Collins, there was never any question. In the '60s, her voice could always be counted on to amaze and astonish listeners. Collins also had the good taste to choose good songs by great writers like Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell. The only weak spot in this otherwise rosy scenario centered on occasional lapses in judgment when it came to arrangements. Early material like "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and "Suzanne" features little more than guitar and bass backup. These cuts still sound honest and fresh. Because Collins' vocals were so commanding, though, it was also easy to add busier arrangements to good effect. One of the best cuts on this album is Ian Tyson's "Someday Soon," featuring Buddy Emmons on pedal steel and James Burton on guitar. The band lays down a perfect country & western cushion for her emotive vocal and the results sound as lovely today as they did 30 years ago. For every song that she nails perfectly, however, there is another one that goes just as badly astray. The sluggish "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," complete with flute, sounds like a bizarre companion piece to "Suzanne." The harpsichord, rock drums, and orchestra of "Both Sides Now" seems a bit overblown -- though it certainly made a big splash on the radio at the time. Many of these songs misfire due to the odd mixtures of styles, attempting to marry folk and country to pop, and add out-of-place instruments. Oddly, the pop arrangement of "Send in the Clowns" works surprisingly well because it doesn't try to mix styles. The Very Best of Judy Collins is a good overview of Collins' journey from folksinger to singer/songwriter to pop diva. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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Pop - Released November 29, 2019 | Wildflower Records

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Folk/Americana - Released March 1, 1975 | Rhino - Elektra

By the mid-'70s, Judy Collins had earned a reputation as a masterful interpretive singer as well as shown a late-blooming gift as a songwriter. But while much of her work displayed an artful and contemplative tone, after she scored a surprise hit single with her a cappella rendition of "Amazing Grace," Collins was nudged a few steps closer to the mainstream, and 1975's Judith often strikes an uncomfortable balance between misguided pop confections and sturdier material which more readily suits her talents. While several of the cuts feature unexpectedly lush orchestral arrangements, these are often among the highlights. Her graceful and affecting versions of Jimmy Webb's "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" and Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" (as well as her own "Houses") are lovely and inspired, while the overcooked light rock of "Angel, Spread Your Wings" and "Salt of the Earth" (one of the least effective Rolling Stones covers ever) serve as perfect examples of what doesn't work for Collins in the studio. Other highlights include two vintage chestnuts, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" and "I'll Be Seeing You" -- which suggest Collins would have done well to consider an album of great songs of the 1930s -- and two very different songs about motherhood, "Born to the Breed" and "Pirate Ships," both of which ring honest and true throughout. Judith's high points are sublime, but the low points are just sorry enough to mark this as a turning point toward one of the less-distinguished periods of Collins' career. ~ Mark Deming
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Pop - Released July 10, 2015 | Rhino - Elektra

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Folk/Americana - Released August 31, 2004 | Rhino - Elektra

Singer and songwriter Judy Collins is credited with having "discovered" Leonard Cohen in 1966. She was the first person to record the classic "Suzanne" and "Dress Rehearsal Rag," launching the career of one of popular music's most profoundly talented singer/songwriters and enigmatic figures. Collins was revered at the dawn of the baby boom for her crystalline, breathtaking voice and her ability to emotionally translate even the most elliptical forms of musical poetry. Judy Collins Sings Leonard Cohen: Democracy collects ten performances of these tunes from the singer's Elektra catalog, one from her fine 2000 album Judy Collins Live at Wolf Trap, one from her 1967 album, Wildflowers, and three new recordings. The sweep in years is covered almost seamlessly. The title tack opens the record with its jarring modernity of programmed drums and keyboards and is immediately followed by the original recording of "Suzanne," only to be book-ended with a stunning reading of "A Thousand Kisses Deep," full of modern production and Collins' emotionally loaded, sensual performance. The set moves to "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" from Wildflowers. This and "Priests" both come from this seminal album where Collins covered not only Cohen, but Joni Mitchell as well, and scored big with "Both Sides Now." The album is given added significance because it was the first to feature her own songs. These songs were inspired, according to Collins' unflinchingly honest, elegant and moving liner notes, by Cohen himself; she states that he exhorted her to write her own material. Given the beauty of these notes, one wishes she would still. There are no weak or substandard selections here; Some of the other standouts are a rollicking country-rock read of "Bird on the Wire," and her acoustic reading of "Famous Blue Raincoat," accompanied only by her acoustic guitar. There is one near-rarity here: Collins' gorgeous reading of "Take This Longing," from her Bread and Roses collection with bassist Tony Levin, is breathtaking. Ultimately, this collection speaks volumes not only to Collins' considerable gifts as an interpretive singer, but more than this, to the fact that her voice, at once instantly recognizable, has lost none of its empathy, its steely conviction, or its aching vulnerability. This album, in past and present tenses, underscores Collins' under-celebrated contribution to excellence and history.. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop - Released September 18, 2015 | Wildflower Records

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In the four years since her previous studio LP, 2011's Bohemian, vocal icon Judy Collins added a spate of live releases and another holiday album to her prolific late-career catalog. Well into her sixth decade as a recording artist, she has little left to prove and yet she shows no signs of slowing her pace as she delivers Strangers Again, a 12-song collection of duets, all with men. The format was casual with each of her chosen counterparts given the option to either sing a song of Collins' choosing or bring his own selection to the table. While much of the material here falls pretty squarely in each vocalist's wheelhouse, there are a few surprises. With his pleasantly rough-hewn voice, actor Jeff Bridges has tended to skew toward country and roots songs in his music career, but his choice of the Leonard Bernstein-penned "Make Our Garden Grow" from the musical Candide puts both singers on common ground as they step out beyond their expected repertoire. Other tracks make perfect sense, like her duet with veteran songwriter Marc Cohn on James Taylor's poignant "Belfast to Boston" or on Randy Newman's lovely "Feels Like Home" which apparently was given to Jackson Browne when Newman politely refused to pair his limited vocal chops with Collins' still-fluid soprano. Among her well-established gentlemen peers, there are also some younger foils holding their own, with New York singer/songwriter Ari Hest offering up his own song for the title track and Norwegian indie folk crooner Thomas Dybdahl doing the same on "From Grace." Still, one the album's strongest cuts features another prolific icon whose strange, sandy tenor has dueted with the best of them. When Willie Nelson's timeless cracked tenor interweaves with Collins' dreamy musings on the moody, banjo-led "When I Go," it's the sound of two interpretive masters doing what they do best. ~ Timothy Monger
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Pop - Released January 29, 2007 | Rhino

With a cast of instrumental all-stars, folk vocalist Judy Collins creates a mini-masterwork on Who Knows Where the Times Goes. Collins' strength as a storyteller and interpreter are at their forte throughout the disc. Likewise, she wanders upon the precipice of less traditional folk and more toward rock ("Hello Hooray") and even country/rock ("Poor Immigrant") -- the latter of which is a cover of a Bob Dylan composition. Additionally, her inimitable choice of material -- Collins' sole contribution being the languid ballad "My Father" -- serves the disc well. This is especially true of Ian Tyson's (of Ian & Sylvia fame) "Someday Soon," which in time became one of Collins' signature tunes. However, it is her interpretations of Leonard Cohen's "Bird on the Wire" and the biblically based "Story of Isaac" that are perhaps the most stunning. Both the laid-back pedal steel guitar work of Buddy Emmons on "Bird on a Wire" as well as the stark accompaniment of Michael Sahl's intricate harpsichord melody on "Story of Isaac" create unique sonic imagery that mutually distinguishes as well as defines Collins' reading from the comparatively staid originals. However, it is "First Boy I Loved" -- originally recorded by the Incredible String Band -- that singularly defines the mood and timbre of Who Knows Where the Time Goes. The inherently ethereal composition is adorned by Stephen Stills' tasty, yet restrained, fretwork that blends seamlessly with Collins' own acoustic guitar. Together they support -- without becoming overpowered by -- the featured rhythm section of Jim Gordon (drums) and Chris Etheridge (bass). Enthusiasts of Judy Collins rank this among their favorite recordings and it is likewise a perfect touchstone for the burgeoning listener as well. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Pop - Released January 1, 1970 | Elektra Records

Judy Collins found herself in the Top 40 with her adaptation of "Amazing Grace." Whales & Nightingales is full of good songs ranging from Bob Dylan's "Time Passes Slowly" to songs by Jacques Brel and Pete Seeger. Collins also had a hit with her adaptation of the song "Farewell to Tarwathie" which she sang over the accompaniment of Humpback Whales. It opened new doors for her and for folk music in general. ~ James Chrispell
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Folk/Americana - Released June 12, 2007 | Rhino - Elektra

Soothing. Unique. Natural. These are clear adjectives used best when describing the style and grace of Judy Collins and her album Wildflowers. Her blend of folk and meditative music paints a tapestry of soft, nurturing colors that transcends the mind of the listener and seeks one's soul. Much of the material feels uplifting and full of spirit, or even spiritual to some degree. Yet other parts of the record can be viewed and felt as sad and morose, which gives the record some dexterity and variety among its ability to appeal toward contrasting moods. Collins makes a well-earned statement in her original tunes "Since You Asked," "Sky Fell," and "Albatross," that deep, meditative, and subtle can be effective within the realms of music as an art form. She is certainly artistic with her approach, staying away from the clichéd folk and pop music that flooded much of the '60s radio-friendly airwaves. Collins also includes her favorite melodies from the songbooks of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. This can benefit one as a pleasant listen, easy to soothe the mind and body, and release the burdens of everyday stress in society. ~ Shawn M. Haney
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Pop - Released July 1, 2008 | Elektra Records

Forever: An Anthology is a good but flawed double-disc overview of Judy Collins' long, prolific, and productive career at Elektra/Asylum Records. Over the course of 35 tracks, nearly all of Collins' best-known songs are showcased ("Someday Soon," "Who Knows Where the Time Goes," "Send in the Clowns," "Both Sides Now," "Hard Lovin' Loser," "Amazing Grace"). Scattered throughout the collection are four new songs -- including, inexplicably, a re-recorded version of "Chelsea Morning" -- that may not live up to the quality of her classic songs, but still are quite strong. It might have been more appealing if the songs were sequenced in chronological order, and if "Chelsea Morning" were present in its original version, but Forever: An Anthology remains an ideal compilation for the serious Collins fan. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released June 3, 2016 | Wildflower Records Under Exclusive License to Cleopatra Records, Inc.

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Folk/Americana - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino - Elektra

Judy Collins' last straight, folk-based album of the 1960s, 5th Album marks her transition from a "maid of constant sorrow" to a bona fide artist. With its covers ranging from Lennon and McCartney to adaptations from The Threepenny Opera, 1966's In My Life would readily attest to this. But 5th Album, cut in late 1964, may very well be her definitive folk statement. A trio of Bob Dylan songs act as the album's centerpiece, clearly showing Collins' growth into more progressive songs. In addition to these, Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain" is given its classic reading, with Collins' voice echoing the song's melancholy and eerie but mellifluent precision and emotion. Aside from these recordings -- which would have been the highlights on any other record -- the album opens with perhaps its finest moment, Richard Farina's "Pack Up Your Sorrows." Led by Farina's sprightly dulcimer runs, Collins renders the song her own, with a unifying, karmic message and a vocal performance that is irresistible. The musical politics of the day, particularly concerning the entire West Coast/Byrds/folk-rock phenomenon, must have tempted Collins to approach this from a neo-folk-rock standpoint, and it fits the vibe and milieu perfectly. In the end, while not her farewell to folk music, this album is a graceful wave and a smile from Collins as she was about to conquer a new, more baroque direction in a matter of months. ~ Matthew Greenwald
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Pop - Released October 28, 2016 | Elektra Asylum

An excellent collection of some of the best tracks from Judy Collins' early Elektra albums, Colors of the Day will both entertain and leave you wanting more. Lovingly programmed (it leads off with her excellent country-pop hit "Someday Soon," an Ian Tyson classic), this is Collins at her finest. Earlier explorations into folk-pop ("Both Sides Now"), British folk ("Sunny Goodge Street," "In My Life"), and gospel ("Amazing Grace") clearly show her eclecticism. Some of the record's finest moments are from her exquisite 1968 album Who Knows Where the Time Goes (such as that album's title track and the aforementioned "Someday Soon"). This anthology brings the "best-of" collection to a new art form. ~ Matthew Greenwald
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Pop - Released June 16, 2017 | Rhino - Elektra

This budget-priced box set from Rhino features five of legendary folk singer Judy Collins' most well-received albums in their entireties, including her Fifth Album (1965), In My Life (1966), Wildflowers (1967), Who Knows Where the Time Goes (1968), and Judith (1975). ~ James Christopher Monger
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Pop - Released January 1, 1993 | Geffen

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Pop - Released September 27, 2011 | Rhino - Elektra

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Folk/Americana - Released July 1, 1964 | Rhino - Elektra

Twenty-four-year-old folksinger Judy Collins' performance at Town Hall in New York City on March 21, 1964, was billed as her first concert, which is to say, her first appearance in a theater, as opposed to the folk clubs she was accustomed to playing. It was a big step up for a performer who was just releasing her third album and was gradually moving from a traditional repertoire to one consisting largely of songs written by her contemporaries, many of them having a political bent. Unlike most live albums, The Judy Collins Concert, culled from the Town Hall show, consisted of songs the singer had not previously recorded, with the exception of Shel Silverstein's "Hey Nelly Nelly," which was on the then-new Judy Collins #3. And, except for the unknown authors of traditional tunes "Bonnie Boy Is Young," "Wild Rippling Water" and "Cruel Mother," the songwriters were all living. Collins gave special attention to coal-mining veteran Billy Edd Wheeler ("Winter Sky," "Red-Winged Blackbird," "Coal Tattoo") and Tom Paxton ("The Last Thing on My Mind," "My Ramblin' Boy," "Bottle of Wine"), and the audience seemed familiar with Paxton's songs, applauding the opening bars of "Ramblin' Boy" and singing along with it, and "Bottle of Wine" (which did not become a hit for the Fireballs until almost four years later). Collins' calm, considered performance style sometimes gave way to a more strident tone if that was appropriate to the material, and she gave particularly stirring renditions of Fred Neil's "Tear Down the Walls" and Bob Dylan's "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" (which had only just appeared on his The Times They Are A-Changin' album). The latter and Richard Weissman's "Medgar Evers Lullaby" treated the subject of Civil Rights, the most significant political issue of the day, and "Hey Nelly Nelly," which concludes the album, drew direct parallels between the Civil War a century earlier and the recent struggles. (The album is also notable for introducing "Me and My Uncle," a tale of the Old West written by John Phillips, then the leader of the Journeyman and later of the Mamas & the Papas. Phillips always denied remembering writing the song at a party Collins attended, but said that as each royalty check came in, particularly after the Grateful Dead recorded the song, his memory improved.) ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop - Released September 18, 2015 | Wildflower Records

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Pop - Released November 4, 2014 | Wildflower Records Under Exclusive License to Cleopatra Records, Inc.