Peter, Paul & Mary's multi-decade career is for the most part well summarized, and certainly extremely well packaged, on this four-CD, 90-track box set. As with many such boxes, there's too much on here if you're not a devoted fan, and too much in particular from their post-early-'70s recordings, which take up all of disc four. But it does, of ...Read MorePeter, Paul & Mary's multi-decade career is for the most part well summarized, and certainly extremely well packaged, on this four-CD, 90-track box set. As with many such boxes, there's too much on here if you're not a devoted fan, and too much in particular from their post-early-'70s recordings, which take up all of disc four. But it does, of course, have all of their '60s hits, along with many of their better album tracks. Not all of those album tracks are good, but at the very least these show their willingness to take on an extraordinarily wide range of material, from traditional folk songs and children's tunes to covers of emerging songwriters like Bob Dylan, Fred Neil, Laura Nyro, John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot, and Tom Paxton, sometimes venturing into soft folk-rock. You could, in fact, make something of a secondary greatest-hits CD from the best of those tracks that would be almost as good as their actual greatest-hits CD, some of those standout songs being Nyro's "And When I Die" (released in mid-1966, when Nyro was virtually unknown), "Early in the Morning," "500 Miles," "The Song Is Love," Rev. Gary Davis' "If I Had My Way," Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "Because All Men Are Brothers" (recorded with Dave Brubeck), and Ewan MacColl's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Others, unfortunately, are only likely to be appreciated by completists, like Noel Paul Stookey's long comedy routine "Paultalk."As far as the kind of rarities routinely thrown on box sets to entice collectors, there are a fair number, most of them worth hearing, though none of them are among their more essential work. These include a previously unreleased cover of Dylan's "When the Ship Comes In," from the 1965 Newport Folk Festival; a previously unissued version of the traditional tune "Come and Go With Me," recorded live at the White House in 1964; a single-only 1966 version of "The Cruel War," with strings; "Il Faut Qu'il Vienne le Temps (If I Were Free)," from a French EP; the single version of "Hurry Sundown," minus the horn overdubs of the LP version; three tracks from a 1967 Japanese live album; the live single version of "Day Is Done"; and a few early-'70s solo cuts by Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers, the standout among these being Travers' orchestrated art song-ish "Conscientious Objector (I Shall Die)." There are also four bonus tracks -- placed, annoyingly, as songs that precede the official first songs of each CD, meaning you have to go to the beginning of song one and press the reverse button to access them -- predating the trio's recording deal. None of these are that good, but they have considerable historical interest, including a 1960 audition tape of Travers doing "Single Girl" (to be re-recorded by Peter, Paul & Mary on In Concert a few years later); Yarrow doing "Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?" live in 1958; Noel Stookey & the Corsairs on their 1956 single "Goodbye Baby," where it sounds like they can't decide whether they're playing rock & roll or jazz; and a 1960 tape of Peter, Paul & Mary singing "Canaan Land," recorded at Stookey's apartment.The biggest extra, though, is a bonus DVD disc included with the box, featuring eight songs from various phases of their career. The first five of those clips, spanning 1963-1970, are quite good, including the group singing "If I Had a Hammer" during their famous appearance at the 1963 March on Washington; a 1966 TV clip of "Jane, Jane"; a vibrant 1969 rendition of "If I Had My Way," from The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour; and a 1969 broadcast of "Leaving on a Jet Plane," on which they're joined by the song's author, John Denver. (The three other DVD clips, spanning 1986-2002, are unfortunately not nearly as fun.) The 86-page bound-in booklet is mighty impressive too, jam-packed with vintage photos, historical essays, and appreciative tributes from numerous celebrities, from John Kerry and Bill Cosby to Studs Terkel and Coretta Scott King. ~ Richie...Read Less
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