The recordings Tom Paxton made at the beginning of his career for Elektra Records in the 1960s and early 1970s are inarguably his most important and influential. Those Elektra albums have been out of print for quite some time, and this 26-track survey of his 1964-71 recordings for the label, I Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound, is an overdue compilation of his most significant work. The original versions of all of his most famous songs are here: "Ramblin' Boy," "The Last Thing on My Mind," "Bottle of Wine," "Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation," "I Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound," and "Goin' to the Zoo," just for starters. His acoustic mid-'60s period is more heavily represented than his mild, later electric folk-rock material -- there are seven songs alone from his 1964 debut LP, Ramblin' Boy -- but that's an appropriate decision, as Paxton's most durable songs were produced when he was recording acoustically. In addition to zeroing in on Paxton's best music, the track selection also ably illustrates several facets of his gentle and warm (if not always brilliantly melodic or compellingly sung) repertoire: anti-war protest ("Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation"), love songs ("The Last Thing on My Mind"), original compositions that sound like folk standards ("Ramblin' Boy"), comic satire ("Forest Lawn"), and kids' songs ("Goin' to the Zoo").
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger