Thursday, November 20, 2014

Richie Havens - Mixed Bag (1967 us, outstanding sophisticated folk psychedelia)

Richie Havens' finest recording, Mixed Bag captures the essence of his music and presents it in an attractive package that has held up well. A close listen to lyrics like "I Can't Make It Anymore" and "Morning, Morning" reveals sadness and loneliness, yet the music is so appealingly positive that a listener actually comes away feeling uplifted. 

In fact, on most of the songs on this album, it's the sound of Havens' distinctive voice coupled with his unusual open-E guitar tuning, rather than the specific lyrical content of the songs, that pulls the listener in. The six-and-a-half minute "Follow" is structured like a Dylan composition in the "Hard Rain" mode, with its memorable verse-ending refrain, "Don't mind me 'cause I ain't nothin' but a dream." Both "Sandy" and "San Francisco Bay Blues" have a jazzy feel, while the aforementioned "I Can't Make It Anymore" would not have been out of place in a movie soundtrack or pop radio playlist of the time. 

"Handsome Johnny," one of Havens' best known songs as a result of the Woodstock film, is a classic anti-war ballad, stoked by the singer's unmistakable thumb-chorded guitar strumming. Mixed Bag winds up with a soulful cover of Dylan's "Just Like a Woman" and an electric piano-propelled take on the Lennon-McCartney classic, "Eleanor Rigby." 
by Jim Newsom 
1. High Flyin' Bird (Billy Edd Wheeler) – 3:35
2. I Can't Make It Anymore (Gordon Lightfoot) – 2:48
3. Morning, Morning (Tuli Kupferberg) – 2:17
4. Adam (Richie Havens) – 3:34
5. Follow (Jerry Merrick) – 6:22
6. Three Day Eternity (Richie Havens) – 2:15
7. Sandy (Jean Pierre Cousineau) – 3:12
8. Handsome Johnny (Lou Gossett, Richie Havens) – 3:53
9. San Francisco Bay Blues (Jesse Fuller) – 2:30
10.Just Like A Woman (Bob Dylan) – 4:46
11.Eleanor Rigby (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 2:42

*Richie Havens - Guitar, Sitar, Vocals
*Harvey Brooks - Bass
*Paul Harris - Organ, Piano, Keyboards
*Bill Lavorgna - Drums
*Howard Collins - Guitar
*Joe Price - Tabla
*Paul "Dino" Williams - Acoustic Guitar

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