Hyena (HYN 9342) (CD+DVD)
Composed of mostly previously unreleased recordings culled from Don McLean?s personal archive, Rearview Mirror, a CD/DVD set, features a grab-bag of songs that emphasize McLean, his acoustic guitar and a tasteful string section. A skilled interpreter of other people?s songs, McLean turns in a masterful rendition of the Gordon Lightfoot classic ?If You Could Read My Mind? and a lush ?Love Me Tender,? both previously unreleased studio tracks circa 1978, as well as a stark, haunting reading of the Frank Sinatra hit ?(It Was) A Very Good Year.?
Elsewhere he indulges his love of the American West on a transcendent cover of ?El Paso? (from Don McLean Sings Marty Robbins) and imbues the Roy Rogers number ?My Saddle Pals And I? (from 2003?s The Western Album) with an authentically retro sound. On McLean?s original compositions he casts himself as a folk troubadour with a social conscience (?Homeless Brother? and ?Prime Time,? the latter an indictment of the mass media?s packaging of tragedy as entertainment). In that vein, the rocker ?Run, Diana Run,? from his forthcoming album of all new material Addicted To Black, uses the death of Princess Diana to make a pointed critique of a voyeuristic public and the tabloid journalism that panders to it.
Though not a greatest-hits collection, the original recording of his 1971 epic ?American Pie? is included here as is a less spine-tingling live version of ?Vincent.? There?s also an emotionally affecting live performance of the self-penned ?And I Love Her So? (made famous by Perry Como), a duet with Nanci Griffith who giddily declares at song?s end, ?I got to sing with Don McLean!? The visual side of that song appears on the accompanying DVD as well as footage of McLean rehearsing with The Jordanaires in preparation for a Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall in 1984 and his one and only video, 1990?s ?Headroom.?
The only real drawback to Rearview Mirror is its odd omission of places and dates for each song. Otherwise, it?s a collection that packs enough melodic punch to appeal to fans well beyond McLean die-hards.