Bobby Darin

If I Were a Carpenter: The Very Best of Bobby Darin: 1966-1969

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It's easy to criticize Bobby Darin as a shameless follower of trends who shifted from rock & roll to mainstream pop patterned after Frank Sinatra, when rock appeared to be on the wane at the end of the '50s. In this sense, his mid-'60s embrace of folk-rock protest music looks like just another example of opportunism. When Darin returned to Atlantic Records in 1966, he released nearly unknown folk-rock singer/songwriter Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter" as a single. Though it soared into the Top Ten, Darin didn't just become Tim Hardin's popularizer; as this collection demonstrates, he also tried the music of the Lovin' Spoonful and obtained a contribution from Alan Gordon and Gary Bonner, writers of the Turtles' hit "Happy Together." But a greater indication of the sincerity of Darin's conversion was his own songwriting. Always an excellent writer, he turned his attention to more personal and political topics. In 1968, he left Atlantic to form his own Direction Records label; by 1969, he had grown a mustache, taken to wearing blue jeans, and started calling himself Bob Darin. It didn't last. Darin's new approach was not taken to by the hippies, and it was soundly rejected by his old audience. Since Darin's death, his period as a folk-rocker has been nearly forgotten, but this album demonstrates that it contained some of his best writing and performances. Few pop vocalists were inclined or able to make music in the serious style that became popular in the mid-'60s; Bobby Darin was one of them, and it is a tribute to his talent and courage as an artist that he did.

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