Although more famed as a superb interpreter of other people's great songs (Dylan and The Beatles in particular), Richie Havens was possessed (and still is) of one the most beautiful and expressive voices of the late Sixties. He also had a sincerity about the words he sang that moved audiences in their millions. This superb 2004 Hip-O Select 2CD compilation offers us 3 full albums (one a double) and a single from his stay at the Verve/Forecast label between 1967 and 1969. 39 Tracks of class and cool.
Here's the breakdown:
Disc 1 (79:54 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 11 are the entire album "Mixed Bag" released in February 1967 on Verve Forecast 3006 in the USA and in March 1968 on Verve SVLP 6008 in the UK (stereo version used)
Track 12 is "I've Gotta Go", the non-album A-side of a 7" single-only release issued in June 1967 in the USA on Verve 5039
Tracks 13 to 20 are all but the last song on the album "Something Else Again" released in February 1968 in the USA on Verve Forecast 3034 and on Verve SVLP 6005 in the UK (stereo version used)
Disc 2 (77:47 minutes):
Track 1 "Run Shaker Life" is the last track on the album "Something Else Again"
Tracks 2 to 18 are the entire 2LP set "Richard P. Havens, 1983" released January 1969 on Verve Forecast 3034  in the USA and released May 1969 on Verve SVLP 6014/5 in the UK (stereo version used)
(Tracks 14 to 18 are Side 4 of the double and were recorded live 12 July 1968 at the Santa Monica Civic Centre in Santa Monica, California)
The original master tapes have been 96k/24 bit remastered by SUHA GUR at Universal Mastering and the sound quality is EXCEPTIONAL - BEAUTIFULLY REALIZED - warm and clean - really great stuff. The gatefold digipak is numbered in gold on the rear - a limited edition of 3000 - it houses a 24-page booklet with an essay by SCOTT SCHNIDER, pictures live photos, album sleeves and ends in a footnote from Havens himself. The booklet is nice, the gatefold digipak is ok - hardly worth writing home about - but what matters for me is the sound quality - and it's an absolute dream. The sweetness of the bass and acoustic guitars of the Gerald Merrick cover "Follow" is just one of many examples (lyrics are the title of this review) - warm and lovely - and for me justifies the now costly price of acquiring this set.
Havens put out an album in 2002 called "Wishing Well" (pictured below) - the opening two tracks "Handouts In The Rain" and "The Well" are stupendous - and almost exactly the same style and sound as he used on these Verve recordings - a sort of soulful strumming. This lovely set of songs - starting in 1967 - is where that most mellow and moving of sounds began.
Another genuine gem of a release from Hip-O Select - highly recommended.