Judy Collins - lead vocals, acoustic guitar, piano; Steve Mandell - guitar; Richard Bell - piano; Marc Horowitz - pedal steel, guitar; Gene Taylor - bass; Bo Siegel - drums, percussion; Donnie Brooks - harmonica
A piano prodigy with a gloriously clear soprano voice, Judy Collins was among the few traditional folk singers of the early 1960s that would successfully transcend that era. Collins was a gifted interpreter with a keen ear for musicianship and songwriting. On her 1966 album, In My Life, she began expanding her traditional folk repertoire to include material by the likes of Leonard Cohen and Randy Newman. The following year she scored her first crossover hit with her cover of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," a year prior to Mitchell releasing her own first album. Collins' ability to recognize timeless material and songwriters before their time was again confirmed in 1968, when she covered Sandy Denny's "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" and made it the title track of another hit album. Collins also began introducing her own original material and although not a prolific songwriter, her compositions had depth and thought provoking power, much like the songwriters she admired.
This recording of Judy Collins performing before an entranced outdoor audience at the Music Inn during the summer of 1973 captures a truly remarkable performance. Many of the finest songs Collins ever covered, including three penetrating Leonard Cohen songs, plus several of her most beloved originals are included in the set. Collins' new album at the time, True Stories And Other Dreams is well represented, as are many timeless classics.
The set begins with four outstanding covers, which display Collins' remarkable interpretive abilities and her diversity. These include Pete Seeger's "Oh, Had I A Golden Thread," Ian Tyson's timeless classic, "Someday Soon," and Steve Goodman's "The City Of New Orleans," representing some of the more familiar songs Collins had recorded on earlier albums. Stephen Stills' "So Begins The Task" is the first song representing her newest album, as does the delightful "Fisherman Song," the first of Collins' originals to be performed here.
No Judy Collins concert would be complete without a few of her Joni Mitchell covers, and the first of the evening surfaces with "Both Sides Now," one of the songs that first put Mitchell on the map when Collins recorded it back in 1967, a good year prior to Joni's first album.
The middle of the show showcases new album material and choice covers in equal measure. From the new album material, Tom Paxton's "The Hostage" is featured, as are two Collin's originals, "Secret Gardens" and "Song For Martin," two of the most compelling songs from that release. Stacy Keach's "Easy Times" and Richard Farina's "Hard Lovin' Loser" are both excellent readings, but it is the double dose of Leonard Cohen songs, "Suzanne" and "Famous Blue Raincoat" which prove to be two of the best performances of the night.
The recording continues with the lovely "Song For Judith," another of Collins' own compositions, followed by the sad and haunting Ian Tyson classic "Four Strong Winds." Countless musicians have covered this timeless song about a lover about to move on and Collins' version is deservedly considered one of the greatest. "Chelsea Morning" follows, another fine example of Collins covering Joni Mitchell. These three songs were also recorded for Collins' 1971 live album, Living, but the remaining three songs of the set will be of particular interest to fans.
The next two songs both derive from her classic 1968 album, Who Knows Where The Time Goes. The languid ballad, "My Father," a standout original on that album, is where Collins began displaying her songwriting abilities. An early champion of Leonard Cohen, Collins' performance of "Bird On A Wire" once again proves her to be one of his best interpreters. Only Cohen himself is as masterful at bringing the mystical content of the lyrics to life as well as Collins does here. For her encore, Collins closes with an extraordinary reading of Jacques Brel's magical "Sons Of," displaying just how broad her range of material had become. This recording will not only be a delight to fans, but a perfect touchstone for the burgeoning listener.