This combines both of the albums from Bobby Darin's brief folk-rock phase onto one CD, with the addition of five bonus tracks. Darin has been praised by some critics for his courage in moving to folk-rock in late 1966, at a time when his core audience would probably have been much happier if he'd continued to be the all-around mainstream pop singer. But let's get this straight: If I Were a Carpenter is much more a pop album of folk-rock songs than it is a pure folk-rock album. In addition, the scope of Darin's folk-rock repertoire at this time was almost wholly limited to songs by Tim Hardin and John Sebastian. Darin falls short of the originals on Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Until It's Time for You to Go" and the Lovin' Spoonful's "Daydream." In fact, aside from "If I Were a Carpenter," the standout is the odd low-charting single "The Girl Who Stood Beside Me," with its odd muted psychedelic bagpipe effects constantly buzzing in the background of an actual fairly strong folk-rock tune. Although there were some elements of folk-rock at play on Inside Out, the album was more properly termed as mature pop/rock, using (as If I Were a Carpenter did) light orchestration. It's not bad, but there are better versions than these songs; the arrangements are a little too syrupy, the singing is OK but not brilliant, some of the songs are too lightweight, and the overall mood is too damned unrelentingly understated. Actually, the most interesting track is Darin's own "I Am," with its graceful harp plucks and wistful air. The most unexpected song choice was certainly the Rolling Stones' "Back Street Girl" (which had not even been released in the U.S. yet). The five previously unreleased bonus tracks (four of which date from November 1967) were originally intended for an album that was never released, and include a couple of undistinguished folk-rockish originals; a couple of yet less impressive blues-rock-type tunes; and a brassy, undated Van McCoy soul-pop outing, "My Baby Needs Me."
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger