Fifth Album is a relic of its era in the finest possible sense. A pure mid-60s folk recording, Collins,’ first masterpiece collected songs by some of the top writers in the business (including Bob Dylan, Eric Andersen, Phil Ochs, Melvina Reynolds and Gordon Lightfoot) and seamlessly interwove them with traditional numbers, imbuing all with her own signature delivery and bell-clear soprano. Featuring spare, acoustic production and typically reverent attention to performanceo—for Collins was one of the greatest interpreters in the folk music world, always seeming to understand the songs she sang as if they had been her very ownf—this record stands up as a terrific document of the best that a mostly-forgotten genre had to offer. Indeed, it is a sound that, by late 1965 when it was released, was already beginning to feel dated. In many ways, this record represents the apotheosis of the coffee house folky
Like many of the most significant musicians to rise to prominence in the 1960s, Judy Collins began the decade as a singer of traditional folk tunes with sparse instrumental backing. Yet by her third album, #3, she was already rapidly expanding beyond those boundaries in both repertoire and arrangements, covering contemporary songwriters like Bob Dylan and using soon-to-be-folk-rocker Roger McGuinn as arranger and accompanist. Her 1964 live release The Judy Collins Concert turned the focus even more toward emerging composers, with material by Dylan, Tom Paxton, Fred Neil, Billy Edd Wheeler, and John Phillips.