Let me first say right out the gate that I have become a big fan of Jeff Cannata, who he is as a person and all of the musical projects I have heard to date. I do have to put those feelings aside now and be the critic. When I first got My Back Pages Volume 1 and watched the video My Back Pages, I was immediately mesmerized by the video, the music, and the incredible artwork of the CD package in its entirety. Some interesting things about the CD and booklet were the pictures…the one of the crazy van with all the ornaments and what not stuck to it is priceless. I asked Jeff if it was for real and indeed, it is, the colorful hippie van drives up and down Highway 1 in California and a picture of the old hippie complete with his pot pipe are on the back of the CD booklet. The music you will hear on this CD harkens back to the flower power era and the culture around it.
Ok so we got off to a good start now what about the fact that it's yet another cover album? I know you are getting ready to puke right? Well just hold it a minute, this album is nothing like you have ever heard before, really. It was a difficult to task for Cannata to choose these songs as every one of these artists and many more influenced him, this is why it is Volume 1 because the door was left open for another volume to come. The artist wants to give credit where it is due which is honorable and understandable.
My Back Pages Volume 1 is an excellent album and the bonus track Life: 101 may very well be the best bonus track I have ever heard (it is also on his previous release Mysterium Magnum). I get chills listening to it and absolutely love it; it should become an anthem for the ages that everyone is hearing on the radio and TV.
There are 14 tracks on this CD, everyone a standalone masterpiece and given new life and meaning by Cannata. This is very significant, as it normally does not turn out that way on cover or tribute albums. Keep in mind this man is multi-instrumental genius and producer so there is no flack here, its all straight up musicianship and creativity at its best even if the songs are older and have a long lineage of artists behind it. Actually, that is whole point here, to pay tribute to those people that made the music.
The best examples of covering a song closest to what the creator intended has to be the two Jethro Tull tracks, which come at you back-to-back, "Mother Goose" and "My Sunday Feeling." "Eight Miles High" and "On The Turning Away" are especially excellent as well. I also have to give Jeff the nod for his cover of Bowie's "Space Oddity" complete with the English accent in certain places during the song is a nice touch. I think one last important note to make is all the superb assistance Jeff received in creating this recording that is why I made a special effort to list the credits below.
So there you have it an album that has everything a music fan could possibly ask for. Don't waste another minute and grab this CD!