John Denver – Country Roads (1995)

John Denver’s first live album, An Evening with John Denver (1975), was a lavish two-LP set accompanying a network TV special, released at his commercial peak. His second live album, The Wildlife Concert, is a lavish two-CD set accompanying a cable TV special and home video, released at his commercial trough. Denver performs most of his Top Ten hits from the ’70s (but not “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” the big hit off the last live album), getting the bulk of them out of the way early on the first disc. He adds some well-chosen covers by folk peers such as David Mallett (the antiwar “You Say the Battle Is Over”) and Tom Paxton (“Bet on the Blues”), selects some of his better, if less familiar, songs of the last decade (“The Harder They Fall,” “Falling Out of Love”), and introduces new material touching on his favorite romantic (“Is It Love?”) and political/philosophical themes. With such a balanced set list, he manages to revitalize the best of his catalog, reassert his folk roots, and, to an extent, redefine himself.

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