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Janis Ian - The Essential 2.0

  by Lisa Torem

published: 19 / 11 / 2017

Janis Ian - The Essential 2.0
Label: Sony Music
Format: CD X2


Fine double CD compilation whch is more than illustrative of singer-songwriter Janis Ian’s impressive 52-year career, as it draws from a variety of genres and explores multiple moods

Janis Ian’s early fame began with the explosive and then-controversial in 1967, ‘Society’s Child’, a folk classic about a doomed interracial relationship, on which Ian refused to change a word, despite death threats. But there are many more sides to this singer-songwriter. ‘At Seventeen’ spoke of teen loneliness and isolation. ‘Tattoo’ spoke candidly of the unspeakable. ‘Danger Danger’ is shockingly relevant today. Her 52-year career has found her collaborating as a vocalist and songwriter with heavies such as Dolly Parton on ‘My Tennesse Hills’ and ‘Memphis’ on Willie Nelson and Bette Midler. This double-CD collection honours her esteemed career, leaving out none of the controversies, whilst including those pristine melodies we can’t stop humming or tearing up to. There’s the stunning ‘Hair of Spun Gold’ written at twelve and which appeared on her debut for Verve, and ‘Jesse,’ made famous by American singer Roberta Flack, which has garnered major support from American military families. Producer Steve Berkowitz (Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Paul Simon, Johnny Cash) worked with engineer/producer Brooks Arthur to recreate the sonic quality of those original vinyl editions. The product is also available through streaming and downloading; ian was an early believer in these formats. A major surprise is the Extended Mix of Giorgio Moroder’s ‘Fly Too High’. Rising from the ashes of disco, sans any of the anticipated, extraneous fluff of that bygone era, Ian’s voice soars above the thrashing instrumental. The acoustic-flavoured ‘Stars’ is both ethereal and pointed, with an intimacy that echoes, like a satisfying secret between two old friends; ‘Love Is Blind’ has a film-noir quality that can barely be described—better to be listened to, in a European wine bar or before a blue fire. ‘His Hands’ offers a glimpse into a battered marriage; ‘God and the FBI’ rehashes the time in which Ian’s family was targeted by agents. As time progressed, Ian was probably able to see the peculiarity of that then sobering situation. Four tracks were recorded live, allowing the listener to appreciate the value of these records, with others. There’s always a bit of a hush rising from the breathless crowds, adding to the experience. If you’re a Janis Ian aficionado, you’d be a fool not to get this one; if you’ve never heard of her, even better.

Track Listing:-
1 Society's Child
2 Hair of Spun Gold
3 Stars
4 Dance with Me
5 Jesse
6 At Seventeen
7 From Me to You
8 Love Is Blind
9 Will You Dance?
10 Maria
11 The Other Side of the Sun
12 Don't Leave Tonight
13 Jenny (Iowa Sunrise)
14 Through the Years
15 Tattoo
16 His Hands
17 Fly Too High
18 On the Other Side
19 God & the FBI
20 When Angels Cry
21 Memphis
22 Days Like These
23 Honor Them All
24 Silly Habits
25 My Tennessee Hills
26 Marching On Glasgow
27 Danger Danger
28 My Autobiography
29 The Tiny Mouse
30 Married In London
31 Searching for America
32 Joy

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American singer-songwriter Janis Ian talks to Lisa Torem about 'The Essential 2.0', her new double CD of remasters which spans her entire career.
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