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The MCA Years - A Retrospective: Nanci Griffith

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Album Review

This single-CD compilation from 1993 features a dozen and a half sides from Texas singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith (guitar/vocals) during her four-year/five-disc deal with the Nashville branch of MCA Records, offering a well-balanced selection of her best-known and loved works as well as a few equally seminal deeper tracks. Lone Star State of Mind (1987) is signified by over a quarter of the album, including "Trouble in the Fields," "From a Distance," "Ford Econoline," and a remake of the heartfelt life saga "There's a Light Beyond These Woods (Mary Margaret)," which had originally appeared as the title composition from Griffith's debut LP, There's a Light Beyond These Woods (1978). Half of the tunes from the critical and commercial breakthrough Storms (1989) are featured on MCA Years: A Retrospective. "Listen to the Radio," "I Don't Want to Talk About Love," the international hit "It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go," "If Wishes Were Changes," and "Drive-In Movies and Dashboard Lights" are here, and each would respectively remain among the core seminal sides from her performance repertoire. One Fair Summer Evening (1988) — Griffith's first live album — is meagerly represented with Eric Taylor's (who is also Griffith's ex-husband) "Deadwood, South Dakota." Sadly, the hauntingly beautiful "More Than a Whisper" is not on this collection. By contrast, a healthy sampling of her next studio release, Little Love Affairs (1988), is included with "Outbound Plane" and "I Wish It Would Rain" as well as the deeper "So Long Ago" and "Gulf Coast Highway."

Although the uniformly excellent Late Night Grande Hotel (1991) would be her final full-length release on MCA, Griffith goes out in style with help from a notable knob-tweaker, former Zombies' leader Rod Argent. While "Just Another Morning Here" and the title song, "Late Night Grande Hotel," are incorporated, sadly absent is her stellar rendition of Tom Waits' "San Diego Serenade" or the dark and powerful "The Sun, the Moon & the Stars." There are several anthologies available from Nanci Griffith's mid- to late-'80s and early-'90s material, and without question, this is an adequate compilation. However, From a Distance: The Very Best of Nanci Griffith (2002) includes an additional four selections, while the double-CD package Complete MCA Studio Recordings (2003) has all four long-players as well as three bonus selections — which make their first domestic North American appearance. That said, however, MCA Years: A Retrospective is more than sufficient for the average listener.

Customer Reviews

A great intro to Nanci Griffith!

Nanci Griffith is amazing. A piercing angelic voice, great songs with cinematic lyrics. she really paints pictures with her songs. she's got soul. if you like great country or folk music you will love this collection of her greatest hits. she really gets under your skin. PS: still trying to get over the shock of being the first to comment on how great this is.

A Voice Like No Other Telling Poignant Stories

A friend and his sister sang The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness at a campfire one night and I thought my heart would break from the beauty. I have been in love with the music of Nanci Griffith and John Prine ever since. This collection, at 56 cents a song, is a great deal for a priceless talent. I also recommend HIGHLY her Other Voices, Other Rooms and I also love Flyer. ENJOY :)

Biography

Born: July 6, 1953 in Seguin, TX

Genre: Country

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

Straddling the fine line between folk and country music, Nanci Griffith has become as well-known for her brilliant, confessional songwriting as her beautiful voice. A self-styled "folkabilly" singer, Griffith began as a kindergarten teacher and occasional folksinger. The country scene took her to heart in the mid-'80s, giving her a reputation as a quality songwriter through hit covers of Griffith's songs by Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss. Finding no luck with commercial country radio however, Griffith...
Full Bio