Though nearly half of the 16 tracks on Pure Michael Hedges are found on another Windham Hill collection, Best of Michael Hedges, the album is still a nice overview of one of the late 20th century's most inventive acoustic guitar players. And as Hedges was predominantly a guitarist, and not a singer, most of the cuts are instrumentals, though the two vocal tracks that do make it on, "The Streamlined Man" (from 1985's Watching My Life Go By) and "I Carry Your Heart" (from 1990s Taproot, with help from Graham Nash and David Crosby), are probably the best examples of how Hedges sounded when he was singing his best. However, it's for the incredible guitar that most people listen to his music, and Pure Michael Hedges doesn't disappoint there at all. Popular pieces like "Bensusan" and "Because It's There" are both included, and are good representations of his unique, intricate style (it often sounds that there's more than one guitar playing, though there never is), and the two songs from the 1999 posthumous release, Torched, "Java Man" and "Ursa Major," show that his skill and innovation were still just developing before his untimely death. The bonus track, a cover of the Beatles "If I Needed Someone," which was originally on the Windham Hill tribute to the Fab Four, Here, There & Everywhere: The Songs of the Beatles, is a nice addition to the already well-rounded set. Perhaps Pure Michael Hedges is not as good as it predecessor, Best of Michael Hedges, but it's still a nice release for someone looking for a comprehensive introduction to the musician.
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown