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4.5 out of 5 stars
Gord's Gold
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Showing 1-10 of 35 reviews(5 star)show all reviews
on February 7, 2006
As a fan of Gordon Lightfoot dating back to his pre-recording days appearing at the Riverboat in Yorkville Village in Toronto, I find myself digging this CD out more often in the past few months. While I have in my collection all of the original CDs (as well as most of them in vinyl as well), this collection containing most of the great songs from the early UA albums in the re-recorded format represent to me the many changes that Gord has undergone through the years. Much like an earlier reviewer, the version of Canadian Railroad Trilogy contained in this collection is, I think, Gordon Lightfoot at his very best.
While it's very easy to criticize re-recordings from any artist, I find that each of these has its own charm; its own character and I tend to look at each of them as gems. While most artists couldn't carry it off, Gord does.
Having just seen him live this past week, this was the CD that I pulled out and played in my car for the next few days. It represents all that is good about Gordon Lightfoot; both the old and the new.
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on March 21, 2004
I wish I could give this 100 stars. Really. When I was young, our family would drive north for some twenty hours to a remote cabin in the Kippewa wilderness. We'd listen to this on 8 track in the family station wagon.
Where we stayed electricity was generated and shut off at nine p.m. We'd play this album (along with Eagles, Jimmy Buffett's early stuff and some albums that have remained tops on my list) by battery power on (what was cool at the time) the portable 8 track player under the warm glow of candlelight.
Some of my fondest memories of youth are inextricably tied to this very album. It never ceases to remind me of the Canadian wilderness, kicking back on the rocks by the side of the never ending body of water, listening to the glorious sounds of the natural world.
Nothing fancy, no theatrics, just good ol' storytelling with acoustic accompaniment. Lots of acoustic guitar and lyrics that place you in the story. It's a great place to start (and a great place to stay if you ask me!).
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on November 24, 2003
Had this best of album been done after Summertime Dream it would have encompassed Lightfoot's best recordings. However, as it stands Gord's Gold is a fantastic overview of the first decade of Lightfoot's career.
The first half of the CD contains his earlier work from the UA label. They're all re-recorded versions and while this may annoy purists it does create a seemless listening experience by updating the early recordings to his current sound. The second half of the CD is his work for Warner Bros and contains such well known hits as "Sundown", "If You Could Read My Mind" and "Carefree Highway".
Overall, this disc is extremely hard to fault. None of the songs seem out of place and there are no annoying ommissions, something which is frequent with best of albums. It is essential that you get your hands on the originals of Lightfoot's early work, as well as Summertime Dream (his best stand alone album) but this CD is a fantastic introduction to a wonderful singer and songwriter.
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on April 4, 2003
For people such as myself who were only 10-11 when Lightfoot had his big hit with "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," a lot of these songs are just simply unknown. Occasionally you will still hear "Sundown" on the airwaves, but that is about it. Yet we all hear about what a great singer/songwriter Lightfoot is...how are we to discover this talent for ourselves?
For the novice listener such as myself, this CD is a great way to go about it. As many other reviewers have already noted, this album was compiled in 1975, before "Edmund Fitzgerald" was released, so of course that song would not have been included. So quit complaining.
What complaints I do have are the paucity of liner notes. For those of us who don't know much about his earlier work, some more detailed notes on what albums the songs were originally on would have been nice.
Also, Lightfoot's voice seems strangely week and thin on the first half dozen tracks or so, and it makes the songs a little difficult to listen to. I don't know what the circumstances surrounding these recordings were, so it is a bit puzzling. The quality of the voice and production improves dramatically in the second half of the album.
All in all, though, I find this to be a very satisfying CD to listen to. A good CD particularly for Lightfoot novices.
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on June 18, 2002
Until the recent release of Complete Greatest Hits, this was invariably the album/CD I would recommend to people who were interesting in exploring the music of Gordon Lightfoot. Even though Gord's Gold was released in 1975, and Lightfoot has written and recorded a lot of music since then, it remains an outstanding compilation.
One item about this compilation that is often a point of discussion amongst Lightfoot fans is his decision to re-record his early songs (for those of us old enough to remember LPs, these were the songs on LP #1 of this 2 LP set!). Obviously, I don't know the answer, but I think the principal clue can be found in the two words that close his introductory essay to the Songbook 4-CD boxed set: "Ever onward." Lightfoot has never struck me as an artist interested in dwelling on the past: he's always moving forward. Thus I would guess he re-recorded the early songs principally because he felt the original recordings weren't representative of the musical direction he was following in 1975.
Thus the recordings sound very much like they would have fit on Cold on the Shoulder--his 1975 release--in terms of their musical style, though perhaps not (for the most part) in terms of their content. My only quibble with the re-recordings is that the string arrangements (by Lee Holdridge) are a touch more obtrusive than the strings on Lightfoot's preceding albums from the 70s (principally arranged by Nick DeCaro, though Randy Newman and Bob Thompson were among those who arranged a track here and there). But that's just a personal preference.

The plus side of the re-recordings is that you hear a more mature Lightfoot singing the songs written when he was a much younger man, giving these earlier compositions an extra touch of poignancy and added depth.
The second half of the CD (record #2 from the original LP release!) contains a very good representation of his Warner Brothers/Reprise years through 1975. All the big hits from that period are here ("If You Could Read My Mind," "Sundown," and "Carefree Highway") as well as other popular Lightfoot songs such as "Cotton Jenny," "Beautiful," "Don Quixote," and many more.
Sure, some of your favorites may not be in this set, but let's face it: there is an embarrassment of riches to be found in the period covered by Gord's Gold! There is a short--yet revealing--essay included, as well as photographs of the principal musicians Lightfoot had utilized over the course of his remarkable career to that point in time.
Gord's Gold is a terrific collection of music from a singer/songwriter who had already amassed a remarkable collection of songs and recordings by 1975. This compilation is well worth adding to your CD shelf.
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The best collections of hit songs by a particular artist are those where you pick it up so you can have songs you already know and love, but then you discover some songs that you have never heard before, which are just as good. For me, "Gord's Gold" is certainly one of those albums. I saw Gordon Lightfoot in concert around the time "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" was atop the charts and I bought "Gord's Gold" to have some of his earlier hits, particularly "Sundown," and the ethereal "If You Could Read My Mind." What I discovered was that I really like the even earlier Lightfoot, especially "Canadian Railroad Trilogy." Part of the joy of listening to this album is really discovering the artist. I would have said that Lightfoot was singing a couple of Peter, Paul & Mary songs, but, of course, it was the other way around and he was the one who wrote "Early Morning Rain" and "For Lovin' Me" (which is done as a nice medley with "Did She Mention My Name" on this album). Gordon Lightfoot is an artist with both breadth and depth, as this collection and the follow-up album amply prove. Even if you have those early albums, this one features re-recordings of these songs, allowing you to enjoy the nuances Lightfoot brought to singing his earlier work in later years.
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on June 2, 2001
Before you ask "what is a 15 year old doing reviewing a folk album from this age?" let me tell you. My father is a huge fan of Gordon Lightfoot and always subjected my family to his work on long car trips. Despite the fact that I originally hated the music, the more car trups I went on, the more I grew to love this music and the man who sings it so very well.
"Gord's Gold" is a great introduction to Lightfoot's musical canon. While officially a folk singer, the songs here cannot simply be described as folk songs - to do so would be to insult them. They are mostly ballads of the highest order with influences of traditional folk thrown in.
Perhaps the most striking feature of this album is the almost total absence of a drummer. That seems to be one of Lightfoot's trademarks and it has one very interesting effect. As there is no drummer to carry the music forward, all the other instruments must be played sufficiently well not to sound unfocused - the emphasis is also placed squarely on the singer, and what a singer he is.
Lightfoot's voice gives the impression of being a man of the world - in and out of love, wondering about things and so on. The way he can infuse the most mundane lyrics (not that many of them are mundane) with emotion has to be seen/heard to be believed.
This compilation was originally released after Lightfoot had switched labels and thus had re-recorded versions of his big hits - released originally only in Canada I think. Therefore the songs do sound a bit different to their corresponding titles on the early albums (which are, I think, only available on vinyl) or on the "United Artists Collection" compilation. However, this does not in any way detract from the raw emotion of these songs.
Every track here is great. Among my favourites are "Don Quixote" (a wonderful lyric with a guitar sequence that actually sounds like horse's hooves), "Bitter Green" (with a haunting chorus sung by the backing musicians) and "Carefree Highway" (a wonderfully written song about the breakup of a relationship). That's not to say that these songs outclass the others by any stretch of the imagination - the others are all of comparable class but in other ways.
The other great feature of this album is the fact that Lightfoot's lyrics are so easy to sing along with. Even the worst day at work or school will fade into memory as you find yourself singing the choruses in time with Lightfoot.
I can seriously recommend this album. As can be seen by a 15 year old reviewing it, the album is truly timeless (it was, after all, released before I was born). The sentiments expressed were true then, are true now and will be true many years into the future. You need this album.
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on September 21, 2000
I have always been a fan of Canadian Gordon Lightfoot's music. From the first time eI heard Peter, Paul and Mary's wonderful covers of Lightfoot songs like "Early Morning Rain" and "For Loving Me", I knew anyone who could write songs like that was a huge talent. So when I got turned onto his own voice and music I was astonished by just how good he was (and still is). This is a perfect album because, like several of his other releases, each of the dozen songs included is something you smile at as it first comes on because it is a special favorite. So the song cycle here is unforgettable, because it has so many terrific Lightfoot songs back to back. The first song is "I'm Not Saying/Ribbon Of Darkness", and he shows why he is so famous and so popular. And likewise he threads his way through twenty something beautiful and memorable songs, from the early works like", For Loving Me" and "Early Morning Rain" to later works like "Sundown", "Rainy Day People", and "If You Could Read My Mind'.
And so on with each of the songs here. My personal favorites are "Don Quixote", "Minstrel Of The Dawn", and "Beautiful", but I really love them all. If one listens o all of the similarly terrific albums Lightfoot put out over a seven or eight-year period one comes up with literally dozens and dozens of wonderful and memorable songs that could fill several double albums. So culling out the twenty or so included was difficult. He has a much larger collected works set of CDs that I also highly recommend, but this CD is simply terrific, and will do for a start This guy was far more prolific than anyone else producing work in the sixties and seventies. Buy this album, and after listening to it for a week or so you will be back for "Sundown", "Summertime Dream", "Cold On The Shoulder" and "If You Could Read My Mind". They are all great. Enjoy this one of a kind artist and his amazingly consistent flood of terrific and appealing mainstream folk albums.
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on August 9, 2000
Although Gordon did re-record 9 of the songs from his UA years, the fact that it includes most of his biggest hits and many great album tracks from 1970-1975 is what makes this worth buying. Although as every fan knows, "Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald" isn't on here because he had recorded it later in 1975 and it appears on "Summertime Dream" and on the "Songbook" boxed set in its original version and on "Gord's Gold Vol. 2" in a re-recorded form. The other 3 of his top 10 hits, "If You Could Read My Mind," "Sundown," and "Rainy Day People" are included. This is a must have to introduce yourself to the timeless music of the legendary Gordon Lightfoot. To make up for the re-recordings of the UA material that are on this set, I'd recommend you to buy "United Artists Collection," yet one of the medleys on this CD, "I'm Not Sayin'/Ribbon of Darkness" was first released on "Sunday Concert" (which can also be found on CD either at your local music store or right here at Amazon.com) while the "United Artists Collection" contains the entire songs for both songs in the medley and is cheaper than buying the imports of the same albums this 2 CD set contains although the domestic CD of "Sunday Concert" is now harder to find than the import CD's of it.
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on July 24, 2000
No other Canadian singer/songwriter has effectively portrayed the images or feeling of being Canadian than Gordon Lightfoot. This essential collection is a good indication of the power and influence this man has had on contemporary music, both in Canada and around the world. Every song is carefully written and produced to maximize the colour, feeling and emotion in the lyrics. The ONLY unfortunate part of this collection is the decision by Gord to re-record the first 9 tracks, all earlier songs in his catalogue with United Artists. The original tracks as they were recorded should have been left as they were. However, due to a situation where United Artists had released a Greatest Hits of their own after Gord left them for Warner/Reprise and not satisfied with his performance on those early tracks, the decision was made to re-record them - a disappointment but one we'll live with. Tracks 10-21 are the original Gord and are superb. "Sundown" is really nice to listen to after all these years; "Beautiful" is just that; "Circle Of Steel" is a short wonderfully written song; there's a sadness to "Summer Side Of Life", especially in the chorus; and "Cold On The Shoulder" is an acoustic masterpiece. The original version of "If You Could Read My Mind" is included and still sounds great. For Gord's '60s recordings get the United Artist box set to accompany this collection from the first half of the '70s. Gord unfortunately decided to re-record again for his "Gord's Gold II". To get the original versions of his later '70s, '80s stuff, check out the recently released box set for that era. Released just prior to his massive "Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" hit, this CD is mandatory listening for any music fan wanting high-quality, introspective, thoughtful music from a music legend.
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