Judy Collins - vocals, guitar, piano; Ken Bichelle - piano, keyboards; Lou Bolthay - guitar; Corky Hale - harp, keyboards; Warren Oates - drums; Don Payne - bass; Leslie Dorsey - vocals, clarinet; Tommy Bogdan - vocals; Dave Smith - vocals
This concert was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour in 1979, the first of two shows recorded at LA's Roxy on Sunset Blvd. At this time, Collins was trying to reestablish her folk icon image, after having a huge hit with Stephen Sondheim's "Send In The Clowns" in 1976. "Send In The Clowns," and other Broadway and tin pan alley ballads, had gradually stripped Collins of her contemporary music status.
This tour, and its accompanying LP, Hard Times For Lovers, turned things around somewhat, but Collins muddied the waters by including additional middle-of-the-road material that had been used as movie themes. There are highlights, though, such as the beautiful song, "Dorothy," which incorporates the story of the Wizard of Oz into modern life-lessons.
Collins chats throughout the show with the audience, whom she regards as friends that have turned up for a living room-intimate show. She returns to her folk and folk-rock roots at this high profile Roxy show in LA, with songs by Randy Newman ("Marie"), the Eagles ("Desperado"), and Steve Goodman, whose classic "City Of New Orleans" is aptly covered here by Collins in the opening song.
Judy Collins emerged in 1961 at age 22 as one of the pioneer voices of the American folk music movement. With her contemporaries (Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Peter Paul & Mary, Odetta, and of course, Bob Dylan) Collins helped bring folk and socially-charged music to the forefront of the American public. Her third album, Judy Collins 3, featured the first pop version of "Turn Turn Turn," and her band at that time included Jim McGuinn, who, two years later, would emerge as Roger McGuinn, lead singer and guitarist of the Byrds. And, of course, of their earliest chart topping hits was their own version of "Turn Turn Turn."
Even when traditional folk music began to wane for the hipper, more commercially viable folk-rock, Collins endured. Her sweet and feminine voice made a breakthrough in 1967 with the release of Wildflowers, and the hit single, "Both Sides Now," a huge radio hit written for Collins by Joni Mitchell. During the heyday of the late 1960s, Collins began circulating in rock music circles. She briefly dated Stephen Stills, who wrote the classic CSN hit, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" for her.
Collins never had the cutting edge political bent of many of her contemporaries, which is probably one reason she has been able to transition recently towards more Broadway-driven, Pops-style collaborative acts. Still, there is no denying her gorgeous singing voice.