With his open E-guitar tuning, thumb-style chording, and distinctive, percussive strumming style, Richie Havens was hardly one’s garden-variety folk singer when he recorded his first album, Mixed Bag, for MGM’s folk label Verve Forecast in 1967. His second release for the label, 1968’s Something Else Again, although not radically different than Mixed Bag, featured more keyboards and a subtle (if that’s the right word) jazzy feel, and the material from both albums figured heavily in Havens’ career-defining appearance at the Woodstock music festival in 1969, particularly the iconic version of “Handsome Johnny” that was one of the highlights of the Woodstock movie. This set combines both of these two albums in one package, and the pairing makes perfect sense. Together, these two projects frame Havens’ skills and strengths and also make for an interesting historic snapshot of a very distinctive artist at a very distinctive point in time. Havens has recorded many albums since these two were released, but these are the ones that broke him through to the public and they remain the heart of his musical legacy. It’s nice to have them together like this.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2