Joan Baez – The Complete A&M Recordings

Across five studio albums and a live set, the first lady of folk comes to terms with new movement of singer/songwriters

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Once the face of American folk, Joan Baez’s legacy was then cast into the shadow of the man whose career she fostered, Bob Dylan. Baez, like Judy Collins, subsequently struggled to maintain popularity against the likes of Joni Mitchell and Carole King who, significantly, were also intuitive songwriters. These recordings, made between 1972 and 1976, saw Baez rise to this challenge with her greatest album, Diamonds And Rust, and the seriously undervalued Gulf Winds, her only entirely self-written work.

Baez’s fervent social/political activism never diminished, and undoubtedly turned more people off than on. Yet she remains one of the truest voices in music and, to this day, a huge inspiration to any performer with a conscience. These albums, often flawed by time, are a reminder of a brilliant interpreter of others’songs and, with compositions like “Diamonds And Rust” or “Winds Of The Old Days” (both about Mr D), a formidable songwriter herself.

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