Eric Andersen's long-thought lost album Stages features superior versions of six tunes which were reworked for Be True to You, as well as three previously unavailable tracks. The record's centerpiece, the 8½-minute meditation "Time Run Like a Freight Train," and is as good as anything Andersen has written, while "Woman, She Was Gentle" (with Joan Baez on backing vocals) and "Moonchild River Song" (presented for the first time on record with all three verses) are exquisite examples of his romanticism at its best. He also shows a tougher side here with cuts like the Beat-inspired paean to Patti Smith, "Wild Crow Blues," and the tongue-in-cheek rocker "I Love to Sing My Ballad Mama (But They Only Wanna Hear Me Rock and Roll)." Also included along with the nine original tracks, is the entrancing "Dream to Rimbaud," recorded around the time of Blue River, and three new songs -- the Band-inspired ballad "Make It Last (Angel in the Wind)" (featuring Garth Hudson and Rick Danko), the tender "Lie With Me" and "Soul of My Song," an English translation of a song by Norwegian singer/songwriter Jonas Fjeld. The new tunes which fit nicely on the record, also featured appearances by Fjeld, Shawn Colvin, Willie Nile and Eric Brazilian of the Hooters.
Whether or not Stages would have boosted Eric Andersen into mainstream acceptance is anybody's guess, but it does give us a chance to hear a timeless piece of work by an artist at the height of his craft.