In 1967, producer Alan Douglas heard some tapes of solo performances by Richie Havens. In Douglas' own words, as taken from a note on the back cover of this reissue, "We decided that a solo recording was just too difficult to compete in the exploding record market...So we went back to the studio and overdubbed musical backgrounds onto Richie's solo sessions." The results yielded two albums on his own Douglas label, Electric Havens, and Richie Havens Record, issued at a time when the singer was reaching much bigger audiences with Verve albums conceived with full-band arrangements from the start. My Own Way is a 14-song CD compilation of material from those Douglas LPs, and is flawed in several crucial respects. True, Havens' performances -- largely of traditional or traditional-oriented folk and blues material, though there are more contemporary items like Ray Charles' "Drown in My Own Tears" and Fred Neil's "The Bag I'm In" -- are OK, and characteristic of the style with which Richie came to prominence. However, the overdubs are sometimes notably out of sync with the original contents, smacking of a hurried rush to exploit the folk-rock sound. Even the liner notes concede Douglas' additions were done "to the great displeasure of purists everywhere," and though they're not nearly as controversial or well-known as the posthumous overdubs he laid on some Jimi Hendrix tapes, they can likewise be criticized for insensitivity.
Even if one takes the attitude that the Douglas productions are nonetheless of historical interest, this CD blows an opportunity to gather all of the material in one place, by including only 14 of the 18 tracks from the original LPs. "I'm a Stranger Here" (from Electric Havens) and "I'm Gonna Make You Glad," "It Hurts Me," and "I'm on My Way" (from Richie Havens Record) are all missing, even though there was ample room for their inclusion on the CD, which runs 51 minutes. As another annoyance, there are no songwriting credits. If you do need to find these tracks for their historical interest, it's still preferable to hear them in their entirety than in this slightly abridged and unsatisfactorily packaged version.