Most listeners only became aware of Gordon Lightfoot in the mid-'60s, but his recording career had actually begun a few years before that in 1962. When "If You Could Read My Mind" became his first big U.S. hit in 1971, ten of his early-'60s tracks were assembled on the Early Lightfoot LP to capitalize on his new level of popularity. Undoubtedly the motives for this album were exploitative, and equally undoubtedly, the music is neither too similar to nor nearly as good as the folk-based material with which Lightfoot later rose to prominence. In the early '60s, Lightfoot had neither developed to maturity as a songwriter nor decided on a certain direction, and the cuts on Early Lightfoot are an odd mishmash of forgettable country-pop and disposable, tame Elvis Presley-styled rock & roll. All that noted, it has its historical value for Lightfoot fans, as a glimpse of his unexpected roots in more commercial country and pop/rock before he'd developed a style of his own. As for the songs themselves, however, they're fairly weak and derivative, and it's pretty weird to hear him trying to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Elvis and Roy Orbison on "Long Haired Woman."
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger