British reissue label Music Club's 18-song, 79-minute Don McLean compilation The Collection contains none of the original recordings from the singer/songwriter's popular heyday on United Artists Records from 1971 to 1976. Instead, it focuses on the second phase of his recording career, starting with 1977's Prime Time, originally released by Arista Records, and continuing through Chain Lightning, Believers, and the live album Dominion. Hence, it does not contain the hit versions of "American Pie" or "Vincent," but it does conclude with concert renditions of those songs. McLean still had some commercial clout in the second half of the ‘70s and the early ‘80s, and the hit versions of "Crying," "Since I Don't Have You," and "Castles in the Air" are included. So are the bonus tracks that were featured on the 1997 reissues of Prime Time, Chain Lightning, and Believers, McLean's original "If You Can Dream" and his covers of Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" and Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover." There are also selections from the all-covers disc For the Memories. As such, the album constitutes a combination of McLean's work as a songwriter and as an interpretive singer. But it is a collection drawn only from a slice of his recorded output, and not the most popular slice at that.
The Collection Review
by William Ruhlmann