Customer Reviews

22
4.5 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 11 February 2014
I`ve waited so long for this.
In 1970 I bought John Sebastian`s self-titled debut solo LP, having been a big fan of The Lovin` Spoonful. I wasn`t disappointed, and played the living hell out of it. Hearing it again after so many years (stupidly sold all my LPs twenty years ago) I was almost in tears.
There are a handful of what I think of as `special people` in rock music, and I can`t quite explain my choices: for example, Ray Davies, John Fogerty, Rick Danko, Lowell George - and John Sebastian. Something to do with being a catalyst for others, but it`s more than that. Be that as it may...
This lovingly packaged deluxe box-set consists of two discs, bursting with musical joie de vivre, of JS`s first four 1970s solo albums, plus a live `70s DVD. To me it is the answer to a thousand prayers, a compilation that is much more than I`d ever dared hope for.
If I went through every track, we`d be here all night, so I`ll try and give a flavour of what`s here.
The `John B. Sebastian` debut album is utterly wonderful, with the gloriously upbeat opener Red-Eye Express an uplifting song about being on the move that will surely bring a daft grin to the glummest face:

Hurry up Laurie, hurry up Sue...

It`s followed by the tenderly lovely She`s A Lady, which could only have been written in the late sixties (the LP took two years to get a release, much to the impatience of JS et al). In this song, as in so many, he shows what a fine lyricist he is:

She`s a lady
and I chanced to meet her in my scufflin` days
She`s a lady
hypnotised me there that day
I came to play in my usual way, hey -
Floatin` along with a whimsical twinkln` in her strange green eyes
`Linger with me`, she said `Yes`
and oh! the time did fly...

Rainbows All Over Your Blues (which opened Side Two of the LP - ah, those were the days) is a stunning track, all steel guitars and JS at his most winningly sunny. He could bring the sun out like few others - remember Daydream, Do You Believe In Magic, Jugband Music...?
The pensive I Had A Dream and the haunting, gutsily sung How Have You Been are other highlights.
It`s enough now to say that the quality barely dips over the following three albums: The Four Of Us, Tarzana Kid, and Welcome Back, the title track of the latter giving him a rare and most welcome #1 hit in the US, though he was virtually ignored in the good ol` UK!
He does some terrific covers, such as a respectfully thoughtful version of Jimmy Cliff`s Sitting In Limbo, a nicely langorous Dixie Chicken with pal Lowell George helping out on guitar, and the much-covered classic Singing The Blues. There`s also his own reading of his road ballad Stories We Could Tell, with - how sad we must now call him the late - Phil Everly on (what else!) harmony vocal. The Everly Brothers then made it the title track of a seventies LP of theirs. No wonder, it`s a great song.
The DVD is a delightful bonus and shows what a great live performer he was - and still is.
If you count all the songs he wrote/co-wrote for the Lovin` Spoonful, and all of these too, John Sebastian by rights ought to be hailed as one of the finest songwriters of the sixties and seventies. On top of that he`s a distinctive, warm-voiced singer, superb guitarist, and plays a mean harmonica - he was much in demand as a session musician back in the sixties, for example on Tim Hardin`s classic first LP, and many others.
Rhino are forever in my debt and have earned my eternal gratitude for the labour of love that is this box of wonders and delights. So much heaven, so much glorious music.

Welcome back, indeed!
1111 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
UK released February 2014 on Edsel EDSG 8039 (Barcode 740155803933) - this 2CD/1DVD triple features the four Reprise albums John Sebastian made after he left The Lovin' Spoonful in 1968. It also sports a Previously Unreleased Concert recorded for England’s BBC "In Concert" TV Program (broadcast 16 October 1970) that is approved by the artist himself and making its DVD debut here. Here's is a stacked up spoonful of loving details...

Disc 1 (75:57 minutes):
1. Red-Eye Express
2. She’s A Lady
3. What She Thinks About
4. Magical Connection
5. You’re A Big Boy Now
6. Rainbows All Over Your Blues
7. How Have You Been
8. Baby, Don’t Ya Get Crazy
9. The Room Nobody Lives In
10. Fa-fana-fa
11. I Had A Dream
Tracks 1 to 11 are his debut solo LP "John B. Sebastian" - release January 1970 in the USA on Reprise RS 6379 and April 1970 in the UK on Reprise RSLP 6379

12. Well Well Well
13. Black Snake Blues
14. I Don’t Want Nobody Else
15. Apple Hill
16. Black Satin Kid
17. We’ll See
18. Sweet Muse
19. The Four Of Us
Tracks 12 to 19 are his 2nd studio album "The Four Of Us" - released in the USA August 1971 on Reprise RS 2041 and Reprise K 44149 in the UK

Tracks 20 and 21 are "Give Us A Break" and "Music For People Who Don't Speak English" - released February 1972 - they are the non-album A&B sides of a USA 7" single on Reprise 1074

Disc 2 (63:25 minutes):
1. Sitting In Limbo
2. Friends Again
3. Dixie Chicken
4. Stories We Could Tell
5. Face Of Appalachia
6. Wild Wood Flower
7. Wild About My Lovin’
8. Singing The Blues
9. Sportin’ Life
10. Harpoon
Tracks 1 to 10 are his 3rd studio album "Tarzana Kid" - released in the USA September 1974 on Reprise MS 2187 and November 1974 in the UK on Bearsville K 54028

11. Hideaway
12. She’s Funny
13. You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine
14. Didn’t Wanna Have To Do It
15. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
16. Welcome Back
17. I Needed Her Most When I Told Her To Go
18. A Song A Day In Nashville
19. Warm Baby
20. Let This Be Our Time To Get Along
Tracks 11 to 20 are his 4th studio album "Welcome Back" - released in the USA April 1976 on Reprise MS 2249 and Reprise K 54074 in the UK

DVD “In Concert: John Sebastian Sings John Sebastian”
1. Lovin’ You
2. You’re A Big Boy Now
3. She’s A Lady
4. Rain On The Roof
5. Daydream
6. Jug Band Music
7. Goin’ To German
8. Nashville Cats
9. Improvisation On Harmonica
10. Darling Be Home Soon

The presentation on this reissue is top-notch - a four-way foldout digipak with a chunky 36-page booklet featuring recording details, lyrics, photos, an essay on his career by noted writer PAUL MYERS, pictures of the original album labels and even personal photos supplied by Catherine Sebastian. PHIL RYNSTON at Tall Order has done the mastering and the sound is uniformly great throughout.

The first album sounds amazing if not stylistically mixed up and out of time (recorded in 1968 but released until early 1970). The clarity on tracks is thrilling - "What She Thinks About" with Harmony Vocals by Graham Nash and my personal favourite - the trippy acoustic "How Have You Been" with Paul Harris later of Manassas on Harmonium. "Baby Don't Ya Get Crazy" is awful (even if it features Stephen Stills on Lead Guitar) but "I Had A Dream" ends the platter on a swirling upbeat note.

I've always thought the 2nd album was a massive improvement over the first opening with the bluesy Josh White cover "Well, Well, Well" which would later become "In My Time Of Dying" at the hands of Led Zeppelin on 1975's "Physical Graffiti". It continues with Clifton Chenier's "Black Snake Blues" - again in slide guitar boogie mode. "I Don't Want Nobody Else" intros like an Eddie Hinton song and is pure Sebastian Lovin' Spoonful melody - great stuff. After the pretty ditty "Apple Hill" - it's back to rocking on "Black Satin Kid". The piano of "Sweet Muse" sounds so clear now as does the acoustic guitar on the finisher title track. It's also a genuine blast to hear the non-album single "Give Us A Break" after all these years on a scratchy 45 - and with its superb instrumental B-side "Music For People Who Don't Speak English" sounding not unlike a War outtake with Lee Oskar on Harmonica.

The "Tarzana Kid" album features a huge cast of guests and is the funkiest of the four - there's Russell DaShiell of The Don Harrison Band, Lowell George of Little Feat, Emmylou Harris, The Pointer Sisters, Ry Cooder, Phil Everly, Buddy Emmons on Pedal Steel and David Lindley on Fiddle. The lovely "Face Of Appalachia" is co-written with Lowell George and features his signature style of guitar playing - it's a nugget. The Traditional "Wild About My Lovin'" features a perfectly complimentary Ry Cooder giving it some cool Mandolin and Slide. And I've often put the Rock-Funky instrumental "Harpoon" on many a 70's FEST CD-R compilation (always has folks asking after it).

The opener for album number four "Hideaway" sounds like Dave Edmunds while the title track "Welcome Back" became an unlikely US number 1 on the back of a John Travolta TV program called Welcome Back, Kotter. It's all a bit poppy on "She's Funny" but gets better on "You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine". He returns successfully to The Lovin' Spoonful's 1966 hit "Didn't Want To Have To Do It" by making it slower but still as lovely. The melody of "I Needed Her Most When I Told Her To Go" is so The Band - and in a good way. Jeff Baxter plays Pedal Steel on the country "A Song A Day In Nashville" will tickle Gram Parsons fans. It ends nicely on the harmonica and strings of "Let This Be Our Time To Get Along" - as lovely a song as he's even penned.

But while the music may be 4 out of 5 - what gives this reissue that extra star is the real prize - the DVD. Stood alone in front of an appreciative and tiny British audience (maybe 30 people) - Sebastian is dressed in tie-dye shirt and trousers and enthusiastically works his way through new songs and a few Spoonful classics like "Rain On The Roof" and a storming version of "Daydream". He switches between acoustic, electric acoustic and electric lead - holding the stage easily and having great fun and banter with the crowd. He even puts in a fabulous Harmonica Solo towards the end and wraps it all up with a superlative rendition of the Spoonful's beautiful "Darling Be Home Soon". Defaulted to Full Aspect - the picture quality is great considering it's been in the can for 43 years. There's no extras on here - but man what a find - it's a real jewel in this reissue's crown.

It's not all genius by any means - there are clunkers on the CDs - and his mid Seventies voice was never the most emotive nor effective. But there is also so much to admire. This is impressive stuff - and you have to say that Edsel have done John Sebastian's musical legacy a solid with this superb release. Well done to all involved...
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Since I discovered them - and despite a catty remark at their expense by one half of the indomitable Steely Dan duo (Becker, in this instance) - I've always had some time and quite a lot of love for The Lovin' Spoonful. Not only did they do Daydream, You're A Big Boy Now, and the fabulous Summer In The City (my favourite version of which is actually by Quincy Jones), and many other great tunes, but they even did a soundtrack to a Woody Allen movie! All the songs mentioned above are by Spoonful front man John B. Sebastian, and as much as I like the Lovin' Spoonful (great name, for starters), I like solo Sebastian even more... and not just 'cause he has a great name ;o).

I was loaned Faithful Virtue some years back, and the result has been a longstanding desire to get hold of all this music*. And now I can, and for only £12.99 (at the time of writing). Plus there's the added bonus of an in concert DVD, recorded in 1970 for the venerable ol' BBC. Of the four albums compiled in both this and that other older set, the first and third - the first being eponymous, whilst the third is called The Tarzana Kid - are my favourites. His contractual obligation fulfilling Welcome Back is much better than the scenario of its begetting suggests (the core rhythm section are the early back-line of Toto), and the only album I'm less keen on is the second, The Four Of Us (what was side one is dominated by a road-warrior rock'n'roll vibe, whilst side two is a side-long conceptual suite about life on the road).

Not only has Sebastian got a terrific voice, he's also a great guitarist and songwriter. Actually he's a multi-instrumentalist, playing numerous things, including various guitars, banjo, keyboards, dulcimer, and harmonica: his harmonica duet of Amazing Grace with Paul Butterfield is sublime (it's not part of this set, but can be heard on either More Music from Mud Acres, or Woodstock Mountains: Music from Mud Acres). But I guess what I love best is that he embodies, to me, the best of the hippy dream. He and his music are eclectic, accomplished, joyful and humble.

I suspect one reason Sebastian languished on Reprise is rooted in one of his great strengths, his eclecticism and diversity. Covering so many bases, and so well - he's a veritable musical chameleon - the label may have felt he lacked an easily marketable 'angle'. The irony of this is that it was his swan song for the label that produced the biggest hit of his post Spoonful career. But that hit, Welcome Back, is far from the best number, even on the album which it comes from (Didn't want To Have To Do It is, for example, at least to my ears, a lot better). I'd like to thank fellow reviewer Glyn Luke for making me aware of this set, and John B. Sebastian and his numerous musical collaborators (the 'cast' across these recordings is a who's who of great talent) for making some incredibly beautiful and accomplished music. And to end, a snippet of the lyric to Magical Connection:

'Magical connection, genuine affection
Parallel direction in between the lines'

Yep, that about sums it up for me!

* The four albums gathered on this release were Sebastian's output for Reprise Records in the seventies, and much of this material (I'm not 100% clear if it was all of it) has been released on a couple of CD versions before, under the titles Faithful Virtue (on Rhino Handmade) and The Reprise Recordings (on Wounded Bird), both of which feature the same cover image and, I believe, the same track listing (more or less). What Faithful Virtue has that this set lacks is the live album Cheapo-Cheapo Productions Presents Real Live John Sebastian, and some additional (and some of it previously unreleased) live stuff, including his complete Woodstock set, full of the hipster patois of the time, such as 'you cats are so far out', and the like!
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2014
I bought this purely for the DVD of John Sebastian in concert. This BBC performance dates from around June 1970 and features him at his informal best. As footage of him and also The Lovin' Spoonful is at a premium, I'm happy to see anything, even the "Candy-Ass" stuff of a much underrated musician in a much underrated band.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2014
Anyone who likes The Lovin' Spoonful or good happy music will love this set of John Sebastian's solo work. It was very hard to find the cds originally so this set is very welcome. Let's hope there's more to follow. The DVD is very intimate and good humored. What a great guitarist he is.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2014
Good times music and some brilliant lyrics. Sebastian wrote some iconic songs of the hippy 60 s I always smile when listening to his music, a great package, buy with confidence!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2014
This was a great find -John Sebastian's great music delivered promptly and exactly as described. Completely satisfied with the whole package and process
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 May 2014
John Sebastian naturally progressing from the good time vibes of the Lovin Spoonful to an assured solo artist. Through these four solo albums he shows his eclecticism and his range through blues, folk, country, rock and pop, featuring his innovative word play and excellence of guitar and harmonica playing. Some filler - unnecessary reprises of Spoonful tracks, and a few below par tracks prevent a 5 star rating. However the DVD of the BBC 'cheapo-cheapo productions' concert is a good natured delight.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2014
Post Spoonful. But Still On Form as a solo artist. John Sebastian shows why he was the kingpin of The Lovin Spoonful. Simply a great writer and singer
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2014
John Sebastian's first solo album is worth the price of this set but add some really good tracks across the other 3 and a BBC solo concert on DVD it's a gift.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
One Guy, One Guitar
One Guy, One Guitar by John Sebastian (Audio CD - 2009)

Very Best Of The Lovin' Spoonful
Very Best Of The Lovin' Spoonful by Lovin Spoonful (Audio CD - 2004)

Original Album Classics
Original Album Classics by The Lovin' Spoonful (Audio CD - 2012)
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.