John Stewart

Gold: Best of John Stewart

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John Stewart's Gold is a spectacular two CD, 41 song best of compilation. It is perfect for the casual fan...if there is such a thing. Stewart has a diehard cult of fans who probably have every LP or CD they can get their hands on anyway, and that's quite a task considering the bulk of the former Kingston Trio member's early solo output is shamefully either out of print or only available as expensive imports. Gold collects everything from Stewart's singer/songwriter acoustic work to his rock-oriented songs, including his only three Top 40 hits, all from 1979's Bombs Away Dream Babies: "Gold," "Lost Her in the Sun," and "Midnight Wind." The 1969 critical favorite California Bloodlines is represented by five remarkable songs including the title track, "Mother Country," and "July You're a Woman." "Durango," "All Time Woman," and "Cannons in the Rain" are other fine examples of early Stewart, but "Armstrong/Spirit" is the best illustration. This poignant song about Neil Armstrong's moon landing and its unifying effect on problem-filled Earth is resonant in its dignified simplicity. "Hung on the Heart" and "Runaway Train" are highlights of disc two, but of particular note are "Sweet Dreams Will Come and "I Remember America." The former is a joyous bluegrass/folk/rockabilly duet with Nanci Griffith while the latter, although a tad curmudgeonly, recalls America's pre-JFK-assassination promise and laments modern society's breakdown. Gold includes an essay by John Tobler, but it lacks musician credits, which would document the caliber of "anonymous" session aces -- particularly those in Nashville -- and high-profile stars who have worked with Stewart over the years.

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