Richie Havens is a masterful singer and guitarist with a deep mahogany voice and an eclectic picking style who had defined himself in the wake of Woodstock as an important figure in popular folk music. Through that performance, Havens garnered some commercial success, which led to incessant touring throughout the ‘70s. Though his studio output is not massive, a few select recordings have etched themselves into the collective psyche of the period, including “Handsome Johnny,” and “Indian Rope Man,” both included here. Better known for his unique covers of Dylan and Beatles’ songs than his own compositions Havens worked outside of convention, creating a signature style with the work of other artists.
Designed for the consumer with price in mind, MCA’s The Best of…/Millennium Collections are basic greatest-hits packages that compile the artists’ most accessible 10 or 12 tracks onto one convenient piece of plastic. In that respect, this compilation will appeal to those curious and/or wanting a basic overview of Havens’ recording career. Culling cuts from his three Verve Folkways recordings—Mixed Bag (1967), Something Else Again (1969), and Richard P. Havens (1971)—The Millennium Collection provides the meat ‘n’ potatoes of Havens’ work, including the obligatory Dylan and Lennon/McCartney compositions, as well as a few of his own songs, which definitely speak for his capability as a songwriter (“Handsome Johnny,” co-written by Lou Gossett). Those looking to delve into the bulk of Havens’ oeuvre should obviously seek out the actual albums, otherwise, this collection should suit your needs.