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Love Is the Only Goal: The Best of Wendy Waldman

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Album Review

Wendy Waldman's recorded heyday pretty much followed the arc of the '70s West Coast singer/songwriter trend. She released 16 of the 17 songs (culled from five albums for Warner Brothers) collected here during 1973-1978 and apart from a subsequent few minor projects, ceased being an active recording artist. Listening to this generous and well annotated (by Waldman herself) compilation, it's apparent that her talent should have transcended the rather short period of her semi-popularity. Her voice is soulful and mellifluous without being slick, and she exudes the kind of personality that helped make Bonnie Raitt, Carole King and to a lesser extent Joni Mitchell — all of whom were fashionable around the same time — cultural symbols as intelligent, strong yet sensitive women songwriters. Not as daring or edgy as Mitchell or Laura Nyro, but with a similar knack for melody and hooks, Waldman was surely as gifted as Maria Muldaur and Linda Ronstadt, since she was an excellent singer as well as a quality songwriter. But the albums didn't get the promotion they needed and she remains a footnote in most discussions of influential artists of the period. One spin of this collection and most listeners will be scratching their heads as to why. Ballads such as the lovely, string enhanced "Waiting for the Rain," the yearning "Back by Fall" and the starkly sad yet beautiful "Mad Mad Me," the only tune she re-recorded for this 1996 release, give even the post-Tapestry Carole King a run for her money. The hints of jazz, particularly in the use of Victor Feldman's vibes on "Prayer for You" infuse class and integrity to her songs. There is one previously unreleased tune, "Charles River Song," a solo demo with Waldman accompanying herself on electric guitar. But aside from including only one track from her terrific 1974 Gypsy Symphony album, recorded with the cream of the Muscle Shoals musicians, this is as comprehensive and well sequenced a wrap-up as any newcomer to Waldman's charms could want.


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Wendy Waldman emerged from the same Los Angeles scene as Karla Bonoff, Andrew Gold, Linda Ronstadt, and J.D. Souther. She first recorded as part of the group Bryndle (with Bonoff, Gold, and Kenny Edwards), and when they disbanded in the early '70s with only one unreleased album to their name, she was signed by Warner Bros. Her sound was typical of singer/songwriters of the period (she played piano and acoustic guitar), although her earliest work boasted more experimental flourishes than most. Waldman's...
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Love Is the Only Goal: The Best of Wendy Waldman, Wendy Waldman
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