Peter, Paul and Mary

The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary [Warner/Rhino]

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It speaks well for the continued viability of their catalog (probably second only to Bob Dylan's among '60s folk artists) that this is only the sixth compilation ever done on Peter, Paul & Mary's music in four decades of musical activity -- and since one of the others was a Readers' Digest mail-order release and two of the others were done for special markets outside of the United States, that low number is downright astonishing. This release effectively supplants the perennially popular Ten Years Together: The Best of Peter, Paul & Mary, from 1970, and also outdoes the 2003 WEA International Very Best Of, with more songs drawn from a much wider chunk of their history as well. The material at hand covers not only most of the key singles and a handful of important album tracks by the trio from the 1960s, but also acknowledges their less widely heard solo material from the 1970s and their much more directly provocative work from the 1980s (especially "El Salvador"); in the process, at long last, the only solo hit by any of the trio members, Noel Paul Stookey's "The Wedding Song," has finally been anthologized on CD with the group's output. If there is a flaw, it's the absence of anything -- even the single "Forever Young," or a specific mention of it in the notes of the album -- from their 1978 Reunion LP, and also the failure to include Peter Yarrow's "River of Jordan," a great song that was immortalized (albeit to comedic effect) in the movie Airplane. Strangely enough, unlike most anthologies and collections of this kind from Rhino, it's not really possible or necessary to recommend this CD on the basis of audio quality -- not that it's bad (it's excellent), but because Yarrow personally supervised the remastering and, in some cases, remixing of the trio's 1960s catalog at the outset of the CD era. As a result, those compact discs have always sounded exceptionally good, so the improvement on this CD is not remotely as vast as one might normally expect from a 2005 remastering of material from CDs dating from the late '80s.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:35
2 2:48
3 2:57
4 2:01
5 3:56
6 3:30
8 2:28
9 2:58
10 3:11
11 3:14
12 2:10
13 2:45
14 3:14
15 3:06
16 3:28
17 2:32
18 2:30
19 4:46
20 3:24
21 4:01
feat: Mary Travers
feat: Peter Yarrow
25 4:41
blue highlight denotes track pick