Mail-order label Collectors' Choice Music licensed two albums from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets by the Kingston Trio's second lineup of Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds, and John Stewart on this two-fer release. Something Special was originally released in the summer of 1962 and found Stewart, the replacement for original member Dave Guard, well integrated into the group. The problem wasn't so much personnel as it was musical direction on this, the Kingston Trio's 14th album in less than four years. "Brown Mountain Light," the lead-off track, with its spoken introduction, sounded like it was intended to be another "Tom Dooley," although it was never released as a single and, with its strings, horns, and drums, seemed over-produced for a Kingston Trio track. You could make that remark about many of the other selections, too, employing as they did a female choir to go along with the extensive instrumentation. Although two songs, Stewart's "One More Town" and "Jane, Jane, Jane," brushed the bottom of the singles charts, the material in general was not very impressive. A major exception was an obscure Rodgers & Hart gem, "She Was Too Good to Me," given a sensitive reading by Shane. Still, this was not a disc to compete with the new folk kids on the block, Peter, Paul & Mary, even though it did manage to peak in the Top Ten. Coming nearly two years (and five more albums) later in the spring of 1964, Back in Town was the Kingston Trio's swan song with Capitol Records, which had just succeeded mightily with the Beatles. The trio returned to San Francisco's hungry i club for a pleasing live set highlighted by an early rendition of "Let's Get Together" (aka "Get Together") years before it became a hit for the Youngbloods, and by a singalong version of "Tom Dooley." The two-fer adds as a bonus track, "C'mon Betty Home," the non-LP B-side of the 1962 single "Old Joe Clark."
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann