Deluxe/Limited/Special Edition: 3 cds in a softpak, 40 pg. booklet
The McGarrigles' debut and its equally praised 1977 follow-up, Dancer With Bruised Knees, are being reissued in one special edition, newly re-mastered by Boyd and John Wood, to coincide with a two-night tribute to Kate McGarrigle, scheduled for May 12 and 13, 2011, at New York City's Town Hall and organized by her family and many now-famous friends.
Along with the original material from these two albums, a third disc features a collection of rare acoustic sides, often containing just voice and piano or guitar, including 1971 solo demos from Kate and 1974 duo recordings, made prior to the McGarrigles' signing. Among them are exquisitely unadorned versions of "Heart Like a Wheel" and "Talk to Me of Mendicino," plus a lovely rendition of Kate's "Walking Song," which son Rufus Wainwright has taken to performing as an encore number during his own shows. Despite their vintage provenance, these intimate tracks have a powerful immediacy. One can imagine hearing them on a small stage or in Kate's fabled living room, where so many gathered to sing with her and Anna over the years.
"Their music is still so influential to me," declares Emmylou Harris, one of their closest friends and most ardent fans. "Part of what I like to do in my life is to turn other people who had the misfortune of missing it on to their music."
By the time Kate and Anna McGarrigle's eponymous debut was released in 1975, Linda Ronstadt had garnered a #1 album named after Anna's wrenching ballad, "Heart Like a Wheel," and Maria Muldaur had included Kate's "Work Song" on her own Top Ten-charting debut. This sudden and unexpected songwriting success led to the Canadian sisters' own deal with Warner Bros. Kate and Anna McGarrigle produced by Joe Boyd and Greg Prestopino, beguiled critics and discerning listeners; London's influential Melody Maker declared it Album of The Year and Rolling Stone praised, "Not since Carole King's Tapestry has the female voice been recorded with such unblemished intimacy." While it included an even more piercingly emotional rendition of "Heart Like a Wheel" and Kate's equally devastating "Talk to Me Oof Mendocino," it never reached an audience as wide as Rondstadt's or Mulduar's. But it remains a treasured album to many who heard it then, and to generations of musicians and fans who have discovered it since.
The New York Times Magazine's Nicholas Dawidoff paid tribute to Kate-who passed away in 2010 at age 63 from a rare form of cancer-and he remembered what it felt like to procure a vinyl copy of Kate and Anna McGarrigle 35 years ago: "Part of the pleasure of hurrying off to buy and then play it was the special frisson that comes with listening to a great album that you sense a relatively small number of people know about; it feels more yours. This is especially true when the music is as intimate and vulnerable as the five songs Kate wrote for that album. She was not yet 30...but she described the stages of an unhappy marriage so vividly that they took on transcendent qualities; she seemed somehow to be thinking back across an entire life she had still to live."
Mcgarrigle,Kate & Anna