Judy Collins

Recollections: The Best of Judy Collins

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For her first five albums, Judy Collins' work resided in the world of traditional folk music, even when she covered contemporary compositions by the likes of Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, et. al. Then she began delving into what was essentially art song aimed at a popular audience, with ever more elaborate accompaniments and arrangements, and her audience grew accordingly, until her hit rendition of "Both Sides Now" -- one of the more straightforward pop moments on the elaborately produced Wildflowers album -- made her a familiar name to AM radio listeners. Her label, Elektra Records, was happy enough about this, but apparently didn't want her early work to be forgotten amid the flurry of activity surrounding her new music. And the result was Recollections, which might better have been subtitled "The Best of Judy Collins: The Early Years." The 11 songs here offer Collins, both in the studio and in concert, doing some of her more notable interpretations of both traditional songs and contemporary folk of the early to mid-'60s, including Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" and "Mr. Tambourine Man," plus work by Gordon Lightfoot, Tom Paxton, and others. The album (which was also released in a differently packaged edition called Judy around the same time) served its purpose, giving fresh exposure to Collins' folk catalog even as she was being redefined as a popular singer. And the material is all worth hearing. Just as obviously, this compilation has been supplanted many times over in the decades since in terms of comprehensiveness. Ironically, Collins was so successful in the pop field over the ensuing decade, that this release would mark the last time that her label would be able (or would want) to market her exclusively to a folk listenership.

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