Disc one contains tracks recorded at the California Universal Amphitheater in 1974 and comprises the original release of AN EVENING WITH JOHN DENVER. Disc two contains bonus tracks which were recorded at Red Rocks Park Amphitheatre, Red Rocks, Colorado on August 14, 1973.
Personnel includes: John Denver (vocals, guitar); John Sommers (guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle); Steve Weisberg (electric & pedal steel guitars, dobro); Dick Kniss (bass); Herb Lovell (drums); Hal Blaine (percussion).
Producer: Milton Okun.
Reissue producer: Paul Williams.
Includes liner notes by Michael Hill.
Digitally remastered by Bill Lacey.
For those who know or have heard of John Denver, his life, his songs, and his experiences have been legendary. Bursting onto the scene in the early '70s, Denver used his skill of folk-rock and mastery of composition to bring light and heartfelt spirit to the world of music. This compilation is remarkably engineered and produced. "I've been looking forward to this for a long, long time," said Denver during this live recording for RCA at the California Universal Amphitheater in August/September of 1974. He also tells the audience, most attentive to say the least, that he worked on his songs late into the evening on the beach's lifeguard stands the first time he arrived in California in the late '60s. It was a long journey to the top of singing stardom, just eating in order to play for people in the early days. This is a different record from those of his individual ones. It is here that Denver is backed up by a phenomenal orchestra conducted by Lee Holdridge. Dick Kniss is there to back him up on bass guitar. Steve Weisberg adds the electric guitar, steel pedal, and dobro. Herb Lovelle sits in on drums, Hal Blaine adds the percussion, and John Sommers puts added touches with rhythm guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mandolin. The album begins with Denver's song of encouragement, "Farewell Andromeda." "Welcome to my morning/Welcome to my happiness/It pleases me to have you here for just a little while," sings Denver. Then it's off to the races with the uptempo Beatles cover "Mother Nature's Son," in which Denver received much praise for playing, keeping the spirit of the Fab Four alive. "Summer" takes the listener to their favorite vacation spot in the midst of a memory-filled season. He throws in Randy Sparks' song "Toledo" for laughs. The artist receives from the audience a strong reception for the hilarious tune. A song about Denver's uncle, "Matthew," brings to the listeners a lesson "that joy is the thing you should be raised on/And love is just a way to live and die." Denver gives the audience his version of Jim Connor's "Grandma's Feather Bed," another crowd pleaser. After quite an entertaining ending, he introduces his beautiful song "Annie's Song" in sentimental fashion, a song written and played in love of his wife. As the record seems to show, the list of songs flow with a great emphasis of highs and lows, such like the momentum of a roller coaster. It is after the soothing, sweet ballad for Annie that Denver puts on all the stops, pressing full forward with the intense and passionate tune "The Eagle and the Hawk." This song has the theme of the environment written all over its melody, as does nearly all of the artist's work. Another ballad is played with sheer eloquence and sincerity by Denver, "My Sweet Lady." This is certainly an album filled with the artist's best, and one must wonder how he manages to fit all these tunes into one concert for the listeners' enjoyment. A wonderful version of "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" ignites the audience with another rousing of applause, as do "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and his most well-known hit, "Rocky Mountain High." This is a must even for the casual John Denver listener. Only by fully taking in the music can listeners see his vision of good music and passion for protection of the environment. ~ Shawn M. Haney