Starbucks has unveiled the latest addition to its Opus Collection library, and the subject artist is one who’s always beat to a “different drum”: Linda Ronstadt. Throughout her career, Ronstadt has rocked to Buddy Holly and Warren Zevon, performed Gilbert and Sullivan on Broadway, sang out front of Nelson Riddle’s orchestra, made sweet country harmonies with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, celebrated her rich Mexican heritage, and explored folk and Cajun traditions. In short, Ronstadt’s remarkable – and remarkably diverse career – can’t possibly be encapsulated on one compact disc, but the new Opus Collection does offer 16 tracks displaying the breadth of Ronstadt’s vocal talents. It follows other recent releases for the artist including Rhino’s volume of Duets and Universal’s budget-priced ICON compilation.
This Opus Collection spans the period between Ronstadt’s second solo album, 1970’s Silk Purse, and 2006’s Grammy-nominated studio farewell, Adieu, False Heart, a collaborative LP with Ann Savoy. Following the usual template of this series, Ronstadt’s edition includes a number of hits but eschews others in favor of lesser-known gems. That the earliest track is Gary White’s ballad “Long, Long Time” is appropriate; with its No. 25 placement on the Billboard Hot 100, it was a milestone for Ronstadt that also earned her a Grammy nomination. (“Different Drum,” from The Stone Poneys, had reached No. 13 in 1967 but “Long, Long Time” marked Ronstadt’s first major solo hit.)
Compilation producer Steven Stolder has selected some of Ronstadt’s most beloved hits from her amazing streak in the 1970s produced by Peter Asher: “You’re No Good” (No. 1, 1975, from Heart Like a Wheel), “Blue Bayou” (No. 3, 1977, from Simple Dreams), “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” (No. 31, also from Simple Dreams), and “Ooh Baby Baby” (No. 7, 1979, from Living in the U.S.A.) Anna McGarrigle’s title track to 1974’s chart-topping album Heart Like a Wheel, featuring an understated piano/string quartet arrangement and the harmony vocals of Maria Muldaur, is also a selection.
Ronstadt’s natural affinity and ability to blend with her fellow singers has never been in doubt. Opus Collection draws on the Grammy-winning Trio II album from Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris for the traditional “Lover’s Return,” first popularized by the Carter Family in the 1930s, and on Adieu False Heart for Ronstadt and Ann Savoy’s delicious reinvention of The Left Banke’s pop hit “Walk Away Renee.” Another favorite duet partner of Ronstadt’s is the great New Orleans soul man Aaron Neville; he’s heard on Tom Snow, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “Don’t Know Much,” a No. 2 Pop/No. 1 AC hit in 1989 from the multi-platinum album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind. From that same LP, this collection reprises Jimmy Webb’s poignant “Adios,” featuring the angelic, multi-layered harmonies of Brian Wilson, and the Eric Kaz-written title track. Kaz also co-wrote the beguiling title song to Ronstadt’s acclaimed 1993 album Winter Light, heard here, with Ronstadt and film score composer Zbigniew Antoni Preisner.
The final quartet of tracks represents Ronstadt’s varied forays into standards. Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Bobby Capó’s “Piel Canela” is derived from Ronstadt’s Grammy-winning Frenesí. Two tracks are taken from Ronstadt’s series of albums with the legendary arranger-conductor Nelson Riddle – “What’ll I Do” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” Opus Collection closes with “Cry Me a River,” another venerable standard from the Great American Songbook. Ronstadt recorded it not with an orchestra, but with a jazz combo, for her 2004 Verve album Hummin’ to Myself.
After the jump, we have more on this set including the complete track listing!
In typical Starbucks fashion, Opus Collection includes a lavish booklet with an introductory essay in addition to copious track-by-track liner notes and numerous photographs. Unfortunately, as of late, the coffee giant hasn’t been making its releases available online. You can peruse the track listing below, however, and look at your local Starbucks counter for this eclectic and well-curated collection of Ronstadt classics!
Linda Ronstadt, Opus Collection (Starbucks Entertainment SJBQ414PKG-00835, 2014)
- Cry Like a Rainstorm
- Don’t Know Much – with Aaron Neville
- You’re No Good
- Heart Like a Wheel
- Poor Poor Pitiful Me
- Ooh Baby Baby
- Long Long Time
- Walk Away Renee – with Ann Savoy
- Lover’s Return – with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton
- Blue Bayou
- Winter Light
- Piel Canela
- What’ll I Do
- Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
- Cry Me a River
Tracks 1-3 from Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind, Elektra, 1989
Tracks 4-5 from Heart Like a Wheel, Capitol, 1975
Tracks 6 & 11 from Simple Dreams, Asylum, 1977
Track 7 from Living in the U.S.A., Asylum, 1979
Track 8 from Silk Purse, Capitol, 1970
Track 9 from Adieu, False Heart, Vanguard, 2006
Track 10 from Trio II, Asylum, 1999
Track 12 from Winter Light, Elektra, 1993
Track 13 from Frenesí, Elektra, 1992
Track 14 from What’s New, Asylum, 1983
Track 15 from For Sentimental Reasons, Asylum, 1986
Track 16 from Hummin’ to Myself, Verve, 2004