The Three Faces of Bobby

A boxed set examines the psyche of the late Bobby Darin.

In the meantime, Darin's regard for folk music was growing. He'd always paid attention to folk sounds; he recorded "Blowin' in the Wind" in 1963. But in 1966, he clasped folk to his bosom, recording songs by Tim Hardin ("Reason to Believe," "The Lady Came From Baltimore") and John Sebastian ("Lovin' You," "Darling Be Home Soon"), and at the same time dispensing with his sharpie's wardrobe. Three years later, he tossed aside his toupee, too, and issued an album under a new name: Bob Darin. As this decision implies, Darin Mark III took himself very, very seriously. But the vigorous sincerity of the selections on disc four ("The Folk & Country Years") had the side effect of blanching much of the juice out of his work. His folk efforts aren't bad, but they have nowhere near the verve of his earlier incarnations. Recognizing this, the general public turned up its nose at the new Darin. Bob, no masochist he, responded by donning the tuxedo again and giving the people what they wanted, until his delicate heart finally stopped beating.

At the end, Darin's reputation was at its lowest ebb; the latest generation of music fans saw him as a curio, while his onetime supporters reacted to him with suspicion and/or bafflement. But Darin wasn't killed by his musical schizophrenia. Rather, he was done in by a power shortage; he simply wasn't strong enough to undertake another reinvention. Collection follows him as far as he went, but it's more valuable as a poignant reminder of his foolhardy daring.

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