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The Phoenix Concerts - Live (With Bonus Tracks)

John Stewart

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Album Review

John Stewart' Phoenix Concerts is regarded as one of the classic live records of the folk singer/songwriter genre, and it's easy to see why. It's obvious that Stewart has an adoring audience at the peak of his popularity in 1974. Taken from a few concert sessions, the bands range from the artist in a trio setting to being in a full on septet with pedal steel guitar and backing vocalists. Besides Stewart himself, the only notable performer on the sets is legendary drummer Jim Gordon. Many of Stewart's classics are here, including a very inspired "Wheatfield Lady" and "Kansas Rain." The music hearkens back to a much more innocent time that many at this concert no doubt longed for — as did the artist himself perhaps after 1968, when his dreams were shattered with the death of Robert Kennedy (Stewart toured with Kennedy on the campaign trail). Other gems here are "California Bloodlines," "Mother Country," "The Last Campaign Trilogy," which is so moving it's almost unbearable. With "Roll Way the Stone," "July, You're a Woman," and "Cody," Stewart hits his stride and goes over the top, and the gigs shift into a whole different gear. His stories are endearing and predate what Garrison Keillor did by a decade. The set officially closes with a stunning rendition of "Never Goin' Back (To Nashville Anymore)," that makes you forget the studio version and wonder why it wasn't covered by Townes Van Zandt or Mickey Newbury. That said, there are two bonus tracks on the CD from the same shows, "Freeway Pleasure" and "Let the Big Horse Run," that make this an essential set for anyone interested in Stewart or the roots of the singer/songwriter movement in America that is populated by many of this artist's pupils, Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, and Tom Russell among them.

Biography

Born: 05 September 1939 in San Diego, CA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

John Stewart first gained recognition as a songwriter when his songs were recorded by the Kingston Trio. In 1960, he formed the Cumberland Three, which recorded three albums for Roulette. The following year, he joined the Kingston Trio, replacing Dave Guard, and stayed with them until 1967. His song "Daydream Believer" was a number one hit for the Monkees at the end of that year. Stewart traveled with Senator Robert Kennedy on his 1968 presidential campaign, an experience...
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The Phoenix Concerts - Live (With Bonus Tracks), John Stewart
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