Compilations are highly useful in understanding the works of the inexhaustibly tuneful British composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695). He had a few big hits, like the Funeral Music for Queen Mary (which is included here) and the opera Dido and Aeneas (which isn't). But much of his best music is scattered around in small bits, residing within genres that are rather odd from today's perspective. Purcell spent much of his short adult life as a theater composer, and his incidental music, for example, is filled with perfect miniatures…
Not that this artist isn't pretty cool; far from it. Credited either as Bob Hardaway or Robert Hardaway, he spent much of the 20th century at the top of the studio musician scene in Los Angeles, playing a bewildering array of woodwind instruments — even bass clarinet, English horn, and alto flute — on a tall stack of records that stylistically give the impression of having been snatched at random out of a burning used record store, the Partridge Family, Dinah Washington, Bonnie Raitt, and his efforts with the Eddie Shu/Bob Hardaway Jazz Practitioners among them.
Tom Paxton's first two studio albums, Ramblin' Boy (1964) and Ain't That News! (1965) are combined on this European two-fer CD, and they blend easily into one long album of Paxton's initial batch of songs. Growing up in Oklahoma from the age of ten, Paxton was steeped in the folk tradition of Woody Guthrie while also boasting a college education that introduced the brainy comic tone of Tom Lehrer to his work and a stint in the Army that made his critique of the American military closely observed.
Collection includes: Take Offs and Landings (2001); The Execution of All Things (2002); More Adventurous (2004); Under the Blacklight (2007).