Various Artists

Singers & Songwriters: 1964-1969 [2001]

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Time-Life Music's Singers & Songwriters series is largely set in the 1970s and takes off from the singer/songwriter movement, but this is the second volume to look back at the 1960s. Only tracks that were pop chart entries are allowed, so the focus is on the more commercial side of the rise of thoughtful songwriter-performers in the wake of Bob Dylan's emergence in the early '60s. For the most part, these recordings were made by the people who wrote them, or the songs were written by others who were themselves performers: Dylan is represented by a cover of his "All I Really Want to Do" by Cher, for example, and the names of other notable singer/songwriters, such as Tim Hardin, Harry Nilsson, Laura Nyro, and Paul Simon, also turn up in the songwriting credits. More often, however, the material is self-written, a new development in '60s pop. The tracks by the Band, the Beach Boys, the Beau Brummels, the Byrds, the Lovin' Spoonful, and the Mamas & the Papas were written or co-written by members of these groups, while solo singers Donovan, Bobbie Gentry, and Joe South all wrote their own hits. With only 24 selections spread across two discs (they could have fit on one), the album is a sampler rather than a comprehensive collection, and the focus on hits prevents the compilers from using a lot of higher-quality, but lower-profile, material. Even so, the influence of folk and country music on the pop styles of the second half of the '60s is well represented, and fans who collected these tracks originally on long since worn-out 45s will appreciate the fidelity and get a nostalgic kick out of hearing their favorites again.

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