Daniel Johnston The Story of an Artist

Daniel Johnston The Story of an Artist
The story of Daniel Johnston has been well documented, which makes it tough to remember that there was a time ― almost the entire '80s ― when he was a complete unknown whose homemade cassettes were passed from convert to soon-to-be-convert. The six CDs in this box set gather together his first half-dozen cassettes, originally recorded between 1980 and 1983, when Johnston was in his early 20s. While these represent the earliest window into Johnston's world, they're difficult to listen to without trying to contextualize, which removes a bit of the wonder of hearing these songs for the first time. And some of these tracks are quite remarkable, while others are not. The problem is the volume of material ― 131 songs is an awful lot of early Daniel Johnston to take, even in multiple sittings ― despite what this collection represents. The first two discs (Songs of Pain and Don't Be Scared) are by far the best and each subsequent CD has less listenable, let alone essential, material. Add the quality of the some of the recordings ― done on a cheap boom box ― and this becomes for completists only. However, with some careful editing, it could make for remarkable double CD. (Munster)