Don McLean - American Pie (1971) (12-track Remaster 2003)

Don McLean - American Pie (1971) (12-track Remaster 2003)

This is supposedly the best sounding pressing of American Pie. It seems to be the consensus that MFSL fell down on the job with this CD, American Pie has the grand title of being the worst MFSL disc made, and the original vinyl sounds a bit muddy (judging from what others say, I do not own either one). It would seem that Doug Schwartz did it right with the 2003 remaster, no compression used, and not harsh, like many recent remasters can sound...D. Jellinc

Don McLean's second album, American Pie, which was his first to gain recognition after the negligible initial sales of 1970's Tapestry, is necessarily dominated by its title track, a lengthy, allegorical history of rock & roll, because it became an unlikely hit, topping the singles chart and putting the LP at Number One as well. It has been 31-plus years between the release of the original ten-track album, and this 12-track edition containing two bonus recordings from the same sessions. "American Pie" has remained as much a cultural touchstone as a song, sung by everyone from Garth Brooks to Madonna, its title borrowed for a pair of smutty teen comedies, while the record itself has earned a registered three million plays on U.S. radio stations. There may not be much more to note about it, then, except, perhaps, that even without a crib sheet to identify who's who, the song can still be enjoyed for its engaging melody and singable chorus, which may have more to do with its success than anything else. Of course, the album also included "Vincent," McLean's paean to Van Gogh, which has been played two million times. Nothing else on the album is as effective as the hits, but the other eight original songs range from sensitive fare like "Till Tomorrow," to the sarcastic, up-tempo "Everybody Loves Me, Baby." American Pie -- the album -- is very much a record of its time; it is imbued with the vague depression of the early '70s that infected the population and found expression in the works of singer/songwriters. "American Pie" -- the song -- is really a criticism of what happened in popular music in the '60s, and "Vincent" sympathizes with Van Gogh's suicide as a sane comment on an insane world. "Crossroads" and "Empty Chairs" are personal reflections full of regret and despondency, with the love song "Winterwood" providing the only respite. In the album's second half, the songs get more portentous, tracing society's ills into war and spiritual troubles in "The Grave" and "Sister Fatima." "Aftermath," the first of the bonus tracks, continues that theme, while the melodic "Mother Nature" is more hopeful, and might have become another hit if included on the initial album. The songs are made all the more poignant by the stately folk-pop arrangements and McLean's clear, direct tenor. It was that voice, equally effective on remakes of pop oldies, that was his salvation when he proved unable to match the songwriting standard set on Tapestry and this collection. But then, the album has an overall elegiac quality that makes it sound like a final statement. After all, if the music has died, what else is there to say?... W. Ruhlmann

255 MB


01 American Pie 8:33
02 Till Tomorrow 2:14
03 Vincent 3:59
04 Crossroads 3:38
05 Winterwood 3:10
06 Empty Chairs 3:25
07 Everybody Loves Me, Baby 3:34
08 Sister Fatima 2:33
09 The Grave 3:12
10 Babylon 1:42
11 Mother Nature - Bonus 5:10
12 Aftermath - Bonus 4:03

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