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Mixed Bag

Richie Havens

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Album Review

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."

Biography

Born: 21 January 1941 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Distinctive folk singer Richie Havens recorded three albums before he hit the charts in 1968 with Something Else Again, but it was his appearance at the Woodstock festival in 1969 that enormously benefited his career. Havens' first album after that exposure, Alarm Clock, made the Top 30 and produced a Top 20 single in "Here Comes the Sun." He became an international touring success and, by the end of the '70s, had abandoned recording, turning entirely to live work. Simple Things ended Havens' studio...
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Mixed Bag, Richie Havens
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