John Denver died in a small plane crash over a decade ago. He still, however, has a multitude of fans in The United States and in many parts of the world.
Still, many people forget just how popular he was during the seventies. He sold millions of albums including three that reached the number one position in The USA. His 1973 Greatest Hits album sold in excess of 14 million copies in The United States and Canada alone. His singles, “Sunshine On My Shoulder,” “Annie’s Song,” “Thank God I’m A Country Boy,” “I’m Sorry,” and “Calypso” all topped the Billboard Magazine singles charts while “Take Me Home, Country Roads” just missed at number two.
Eagle Rock Entertainment has just issued Around The World Live which is a massive five DVD set of unreleased concert material plus two documentaries. It all clocks in at just less than nine hours and that is a lot of John Denver.
Because it presents him in a concert setting from different periods of his career there is some repetition. An example of this would be the six performances of “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Even his fan base would be well advised to enjoy this set over a period of days rather than just plowing through it in one or two sittings.
Disc one takes you down under for his 1977 Australian concert in front of 30,000 people. This is John Denver at the height of his popularity. I was immediately impressed with the quality of his voice and his relaxed demeanor in front of so many people. While many of his hits are performed he also digs into his catalog to present some lesser known material such as “Come And Let Me Look In Your Eyes,” “Eagle And The Hawk,” and “Singing Skies And Dancing Waters.” The concert concludes with the song that jump started his career. “Leaving On A Jet Plane” was a number one hit for Peter, Paul & Mary in the fall of 1969 and as its composer he received a large amount of recognition.
Disc two finds him in Japan in 1981. This is a fairly laid back set that mostly concentrates on his better known material. “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Fly Away,” “Rocky Mountain High,” “Annie’s Song,” and “Sunshine On My Shoulder” are all performed before an appreciative audience.
He travels to England for disc three. The hits had stopped by 1986 but he had matured as a live performer and by now had the ability to command an audience. Some of the more interesting songs include “The Harder They Fall,” “Shanghai Breezes,” “My Sweet Lady,” and “Perhaps Love.”
Disc four begins with a solo acoustic concert recorded in Japan in 1984. I am always interested to hear an artist perform his material sans any support except what he holds in his hands. His material is made for this type of approach and he successfully presents 17 of his songs in a simple and effective manner. Also included on this disc are his Farm Aid performances from 1985, 1987, and 1990.
The final disc contains two of his documentaries. He was always an environmental activist and his 1990 Earth Day documentary is passionate if dated. His 1972 Day At The Bighorn remains interesting as it explores the wildlife of the Rocky Mountain region.
The visual and audio quality of the set are excellent as it all has undergone re-mastering and restoration.
Around The World Live is a career spanning document of the live John Denver. It is sure to please his vast fan base and may attract some new ones as well.