There Stands The Door: The Best Of We Five (Uk)


aec.bgb286.2 3/10/09 New
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    There Stands The Door: The Best Of We Five (Uk) Big Beat Records

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Review Text Though "You Were on My Mind" was one of the first and best big folk-rock hits, We Five's reputation as early folk-rock pioneers has suffered from the abundance of weak and ill-suited pop material on the spotty two LPs recorded by the original lineup. It's no exaggeration to hail the 22-track There Stands the Door as a major rehabilitation of the group's legacy. That's due both to the wise selection of their best and most folk-rock-oriented material, and to the inclusion of eight previously unissued cuts (and one non-LP A-side) that do much to fill out a fairer portrait of the group's strengths. Instead of sounding like a wildly erratic outfit prone to interpreting too many pop standards and show tunes, this cherry-picked anthology shows them more as a highly worthwhile, if a little lightweight, early folk-rock group who helped innovate the male-female harmonies characteristic of early San Francisco folk-rock in particular. The CD focuses both on the group's best original material (often penned by John Stewart's brother Mike Stewart) and their most appropriate choices of folky songs to cover, including several compositions by John Stewart and an obscure tune (the previously unissued "What'cha Gonna Do") co-written by Bob Gibson, Shel Silverstein, and Fred Neil. All but a couple of the tracks were recorded prior to the first lineup's dissolution in spring 1967, and Beverly Bivens' vocals in particular anticipate aspects of the San Francisco folk-rock singing heard in early Jefferson Airplane recordings, particularly on the 1966 single "You Let a Love Burn Out." From the same year, the non-LP single "There Stands the Door" hints at some more musically and lyrically adventurous directions that went unexplored, even if its adventurousness is fairly mild compared to that of the Airplane. True, "You Were on My Mind" remains the best track they ever did by some distance. But much more than their original LPs, There Stands the Door stands as their true best-of, and if its concentration on folk-rock gives a somewhat incomplete document of their eclectic repertoire, it does indisputably focus on the best of that repertoire. Note that a couple of the unissued tracks (judiciously placed at the end of the CD) are actually taken from recordings they made for Coke commercials; while they're hardly emblematic of the group at their best, they certainly are rare and thus to be welcomed by hardcore collectors. A more significant bonus is Alec Palao's extensive annotation, in which first-hand interviews with surviving bandmembers do much to flesh out the history of this ill-documented group. ~ Richie Unterberger

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. You Were on My Mind - 3:36
  2. 2. There Stands the Door - 2:20
  3. 3. You Let a Love Burn Out - 2:10
  4. 4. Have You Heard - 2:55
  5. 5. What's Goin' On - 2:17
  6. 6. Love Me Not Tomorrow - 3:13
  7. 7. Five Will Get You Ten - 2:26
  8. 8. High Flying Bird - 4:53
  9. 9. Poet - 2:32
  10. 10. Let's Get Together - 3:59
  11. 11. After All - 2:43
  12. 12. If I Were Alone - 3:34
  13. 13. What Do I Do Now - 2:26
  14. 14. Past Asking - 2:30
  15. 15. What'cha Gonna Do - 2:33
  16. 16. First Time - 2:26
  17. 17. Thing I Like - 2:19
  18. 18. I Can Never Go Home Again - 2:29
  19. 19. It Really Doesn't Matter - 3:16
  20. 20. Walk on By - 3:05
  21. 21. How to Make a Soft Drink Commercial - 8:37
  22. 22. Medley: Sittin' Here/Things of Summer - 3:15

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