In many ways a bridge between the late-'50s generation of folksingers like Dave Van Ronk and the early-'60s version posed by innovative songwriters like Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton managed to keep his integrity intact through it all, and if he didn’t exactly break new ground anywhere, he has always been a careful and thoughtful songwriter. This set brings together five of the six LPs Paxton recorded and released with Elektra Records between 1964 and 1972 (the sixth, New Songs Old Friends, released in 1972, was a retrospective live set), 1964’s Ramblin’ Boy, 1966’s Outward Bound, 1968’s Morning Again, 1969’s The Things I Notice Now, and 1970’s Tom Paxton 6. The end result is an almost complete collection from Paxton's peak middle years, the years when he wrote and recorded most of the songs on which his legacy rests.
This aptly titled release from '80s art rockers and Talking Heads side project Tom Tom Club is indeed good, bad, and funky. Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz have explored a stunning amount of musical styles within the confines of this album, with every song sounding like it was produced by a different group. The use of a variety of vocalists, including Weymouth, who at times sounds like a 16-year-old Japanese girl instead of her more mature self, as well as Mystic Bowie and Charles Pettigrew only seems to heighten the variety of sounds offered. The lyrics are simple, yet clever, and laid over a variety of sampled tracks, scratching, and other turntablism and live instrumentation. The resulting sound ranges from dub to dance-pop to spacy funk. The variety does allow for some unevenness, however, though duds like the repetitive and spare "Time to Bounce" are more than balanced by gems like "Happiness Can't Buy Money" and the instrumental cleverness of "Lesbians by the Lake," among others.