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Positive Feedback ISSUE 17
january/february 2005


Joan Baez In Concert, Cisco LP (Vanguard VSD-2122)
by Dave Glackin


Joan Baez is one of the greatest interpreters of the folk idiom who ever committed words to vinyl, and this is one of her most famous albums. Joan's performance captured here conveys heartfelt emotion. Her voice is haunting, beautiful and sublime, and Joan very ably accompanies herself on acoustic guitar. Put this album on your turntable, sit back, turn the lights off, and you'll understand why this album is so highly regarded. Her pure voice conveys a combination of depth of feeling and wistfulness that is impossible to duplicate, and it is reproduced here with transparency and liquidity. Play this album and you'll begin to understand, if you didn't already, why there was such a resurgence in the popularity of folk music in the sixties.

Joan Baez In Concert is not only musically compelling, it's also a real ear-opener sonically, especially on the Cisco reissue. The Cisco is a distinct improvement over the highly regarded original black-and-silver Vanguard Stereolab that I have for comparison. On the original, Joan's voice sounds like the upper registers are reproduced at the expense of the lower ones. It's mostly vibrato and throat sound. On the Cisco reissue, Joan's voice sounds more like a real voice with more subtlety and truth of timbre. The chest tones are clearly reproduced along with the upper registers, and Joan sounds much more like herself (and I've heard her live in concert in an excellent venue, albeit decades ago.) Joan's guitar is also better reproduced on the Cisco; the strings and body are captured with more realism. What an enjoyable record! And by the way, these comparisons were made with careful adjustment of VTA for the difference between the 120 g original and the 180 g reissue.

The surfaces of the reissue are flat and quiet. A visual inspection of the grooves revealed that the Cisco was mastered somewhat "hotter" than the original (more groove modulation). Cisco did an expert job of reproducing the original cover art and label art.

The folk songs that are performed on this album showcase Joan's formidable talent brilliantly. Joan has selected thirteen pieces that are mostly deeply rooted in the American folk tradition, with some tracing back to Scotland and England. The liner notes provide a great education in this type of music.

It is hard to find a better introduction to the folk music of the fifties and sixties. Please support Cisco by buying Joan Baez In Concert. This release is very, very highly recommended. Cisco has been doing a great job of branching out and selecting outstanding folk and blues albums to reissue, and the mastering job on this particular reissue is superb. It sounds like the master tape was in great shape and that Kevin Gray extracted everything that was there to be had. A company that is producing products such as this deserves your enthusiastic support. They most definitely have mine. All I can say once again, is keep up the great work, Robert Pincus!

Cisco Music
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Sound: 10/10

Performance: 10/10

Music: 10/10