Joan Baez

Classics, Vol. 8

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This 1987 best-of compiles the work from A&M efforts that marked a stylistic change from her Vanguard years, yet a pretty consistent level of success. Relying on the work of other artists seemed to be more hit and miss during the A&M era. In Baez's interpretations of songs like Bob Dylan's "Simple Twist of Fate" and "Forever Young" and John Lennon's "Imagine," her pitch-perfect tone might strike some as unemotional, but her singing is engrossing nonetheless. Not surprisingly, Baez sounds the best here with the tracks that deviate from weighty issues. "Gracias a la Vida" (sung in Spanish) and the haunting "Di Da" (with Joni Mitchell) have her giving off more charm and emotion than usual. "Children and All That Jazz," from her best-selling 1975 album Diamonds & Rust, has a gorgeous, heavily produced '70s L.A. pop/rock style that suited her voice. Unlike many greatest-hit sets, Classics, Vol. 8 also offers strong live performances, including "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and the CD closing "Amazing Grace." Classics, Vol. 8 has the strength of a regular release effort and more than captures the time frame and the artist it's spotlighting.

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