Great Britain’s BGO imprint always does a stellar job when it comes to reissues. This two-fer reissue of Janis Ian’s second and third albums released on Verve/Forecast in 1968 and 1969, respectively, is no exception. Listening to these albums all these years later, it is astonishing to note that Ian was still in her teens when they were released. While neither album charted, both are rich, varied, and convincing. Check the seven-plus minute “Mistaken Identity,” from The Secret Life of J. Eddy Fink, produced by Ian and Shadow Morton. With its seamless integration of Ian’s pianistic knowledge of hard bop jazz harmony, classic American ballad-book styles, and shifting time signatures; this track is worth the price of admission by itself. Other stellar tracks include the Bob Dylan-influenced “Friends Again,” and the fuzzed-out rock of “Sweet Misery.” Who Really Cares is even more ambitious. Produced by Charlie Calello, Ian is credited as co-arranger for a studio band full of crack musicians including Dick Hyman, Hugh McCracken, Joe Farrell, Marvin Stamm, and others. Ian plays piano on the set. Listen to the interplay with vibraphonist David Freidman on “Orphan of the Wind”; it swings hard but never loses its groove. Check the driving souled-out rock of “Sea and Sand,” the bluesy country-rocker “Time on My Hands,” and “Love You More Than Yesterday,” with her scat singing fronting a full R&B horn section. Both records hold up beautifully. This two-fer on a single disc, is well worth seeking out for Ian fans, since this release marks the first appearance of these albums on CD.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek