Denver paid tribute with release of new box set |

Denver paid tribute with release of new box set

Staff report

John Denver’s prolific recording career is paid high tribute on “All of My Memories: The John Denver Collection,” RCA/Legacy announced last week. The 90-song, four-CD box set, representing virtually every one of the studio and live albums the Aspen icon recorded in his lifetime, encom­passes hit singles and signature album tracks, demos, promotional rarities, limited-edition and private pressings and a total of six previously unreleased tracks running from 1964 to 1997. It will be available Nov. 4.

From his start as an itinerant folk singer in the mid-1960s, Denver rose to world-class status as a multiplatinum-selling recording artist and producer, two-time Grammy Award winner (and five-time Grammy host), movie actor, television personality, philanthropist, and environmental and human-rights activist.

Denver charted more than 40 Billboard Hot 100, adult-contemporary and country songs from 1971 to 1988. His No. 1 hits from 1974 to 1976 included “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” “Annie’s Song,” “Back Home Again,” “Sweet Surrender,” “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” “Calypso,” “Fly Away,” “Look­ing for Space” and “Like a Sad Song.” These and his “campfire” standards, “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Rocky Mountain High,” are also included.

In addition to recapping hit singles, signature album tracks, live performances, folk-boom rarities and private pressings, “All of My Memories” also uncovered six previously unissued finds: cover versions of “The Road” and “Far Side of the Hill,” both demos recorded in 1964, prior to joining the Mitchell Trio; “Rhymes and Reasons,” an original composition cut in early 1969; “Spirit,” recorded live at the Sydney Opera House in 1977 but not included on the 1999 concert album; an alternate take of “Eli’s Song” from 1976; and an alternate version of “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.”

Denver would have turned 70 on Dec. 31, 2013. In November, the BBC Four documentary “John Denver: Country Boy” premiered in recognition of his 70th. The one-hour film featured interviews with many important figures who knew Denver best, including his ex-wife, Annie Denver, producer Milton Okun, manager Jerry Weintraub, musicians James Burton and Paul Prestopino, and many others. The 32-page booklet for “All of My Memories” will include the definitive 2,600-word liner-notes essay written by longtime Denver chronicler G. Brown, a former Denver Post music critic and now director at the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. Its first inductee was Denver in 2011.

“Watch John Denver,” Brown wrote. “He’s a genius. He’ll defeat all the cynicism in the world because he’s so real. You don’t have to think too much about him — just lie back and let his sunshine wash all over you. And you know you’ll feel real.”