THE ATLANTIC RECORDINGS contains LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III (1970) and LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III (1971).
Personnel includes: Loudon Wainwright III (vocals, guitar).
Limited to 1500 numbered copies.
Recording information: A & R Studios, New York; Atlantic Recording Studios, New York; Media Sound, New York.
Photographers: Milton Kramer; Lee Friedlander.
Internet mail-order firm Rhino Handmade's The Atlantic Recordings reissues Loudon Wainwright III's first two LPs -- 1970's Loudon Wainwright III (sometimes called Album I) and 1971's Album II -- on a single CD for the first time. These are stark folk recordings on which Wainwright accompanies himself on acoustic guitar, often straining to reach the high notes with his limited, slightly hysterical tenor. Even at this young age, Wainwright had already embarked upon his lifelong musical autobiography, a painfully honest, highly detailed account of his experiences, including his personal failings. You'd better be taken with the literate, self-conscious sad sack depicted in his lyrics, because there is precious little melodic invention or melodic variation to engage you. But it's hard not to love a young man who sounds like he's spent enough time on a psychiatrist's couch to have lost any inhibitions; he discusses everything from lust and suicidal feelings to his delight at sightseeing and the minute details of an airplane trip. He can show a childlike enthusiasm, but he also often seems old beyond his years. When these albums were first released, with performers like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell defining the confessional singer/songwriter trend, Wainwright seemed like its logical extreme, but at the same time, he punctured the seriousness of his peers, poking fun at their solemn introspection. These songs are the opening statements in his ongoing autobiography-in-song, one that has been by turns hilarious, embarrassing, and moving, but always striking in its willingness to uncover real feelings. These uneven albums might have benefited from being compressed into a less-lengthy compilation, but this is a limited edition for fans, who are actually more likely to wish this was a two-CD set that contained several documented, unissued outtakes. ~ William Ruhlmann