by Mitch Myers
Along with 60s singers such as Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton is a classic representative of the mainstream folk movement. A Greenwich Village troubadour influenced by heartfelt American songwriters including Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton wrote timeless love songs, politically minded protest songs and even successful children’s songs. While not as personally extreme or experimental as his peers Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan, Paxton was a disciplined and sincere musician who constantly worked to improve his craft. On this "Best of" compilation, we are exposed to some of Paxton’s most memorable and successful compositions. Without a doubt, Paxton’s eternal ballad, "The Last Thing on My Mind," has to be one of the most romantic fare-thee-wells ever written. Although his voice and guitar playing were basically unremarkable, Paxton was somehow able to compose glorious folk anthems like "Ramblin’ Boy," as well as good-time rags like "Bottle of Wine." Whether performing sardonic reefer-protest ditties like "Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues" or simple children’s sing-a-longs such as "Goin’ to the Zoo," Paxton was always a seasoned and playful entertainer. Many of the songs on this collection have been recorded by other artists, but Paxton is his own best interpreter on emotive odes like "My Son, John" and "Outward Bound." Drawn from Paxton’s seven albums recorded for Elektra Records, this disc represents a vital part of the American folk music tradition that cannot be denied.