Linda Ronstadt

The Linda Ronstadt Box Set

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Linda Ronstadt's generically titled four-CD, five-hour, 86-track box set retrospective attempts with considerable success to encompass the many types of music she's sung from the mid-'60s to the late '90s. The album is divided into five unequal parts, with 31 tracks given over to an "Album Retrospective," followed by seven tracks from "The Nelson Riddle Sessions," her three albums of classic pop, then five songs "En Español," drawn from her three Spanish language albums. That takes up the first two discs, with the third disc consisting of 20 "Collaborations" and the fourth 23 "Rarities." It is significant that the first section is called "Album Retrospective," signaling to the listener that Ronstadt is not interested in presenting her hit singles as such. In fact, most of her chart hits do turn up somewhere on the set, but a whole chunk of them is missing. At the time that Ronstadt was peppering the singles charts in the late '70s, she caught flack for her covers of Motown and rock & roll standards, and she herself has disavowed her recordings of such work, so maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that she has chosen to forget "Heat Wave," "Tracks of My Tears," "That'll Be the Day," "It's So Easy," and even modern rock songs like "How Do I Make You," with "Back in the U.S.A." and "Tumbling Dice" included only in live versions. A critic can hardly object, but Ronstadt fans should note that, as a result, the box set will not allow them to throw their Greatest Hits albums away. Also, the omissions tend to make Ronstadt seem like more of a balladeer than she has been in her career. She is much more interested in emphasizing her non-rock work. The "Rarities" disc really only contains five previously unreleased songs, and they are hardly revelations, including outtakes of material written by the likes of J.D. Souther and Karla Bonoff, longtime Ronstadt favorites. But the disc does suggest the singer's range, from the art songs of Carla Bley and Philip Glass to theater songs from The Pirates of Penzance and Randy Newman's Faust. The Linda Ronstadt Box Set clearly had major input from the artist herself, and its contents may not be what a Ronstadt fan or chart researcher would have chosen. But it certainly makes the case for Ronstadt as a hard-working performer who constantly challenged herself by trying styles beyond the Southern California folk-rock for which she remains best known.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 4:26
2 4:02
3 5:01
4 4:49
5 2:59
6 3:53
7 3:35
8 4:09
9 3:33
10 3:33
11 3:35
feat: Chuck Berry
feat: Danny Valdez
14 4:27
feat: James Ingram
feat: James Taylor
feat: Dolly Parton
feat: J.D. Souther
feat: J.D. Souther
20 2:45

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:30
2 2:41
3 2:35
4 4:13
5 4:39
6 2:42
7 2:33
8 3:14
9 3:29
feat: Philip Glass
11 3:48
12 2:02
13 3:27
feat: Little Feat
feat: J.D. Souther
16 3:23
17 3:31
18 5:25
19 2:26
20 3:38
22 2:38
feat: Stone Poneys
blue highlight denotes track pick