John Denver’s Final Album Drops Featuring Re-recorded Classics

Before the “Taylor’s Version” undertaking was even a twinkle in Taylor Swift’s eye, there was John’s version. In 1996, John Denver rerecorded his biggest hits in order to own the masters on his independent label Windstar Records. Two years prior, in his autobiography Take Me Home, Denver had distanced himself from his former label, RCA Records, calling them “an organization of pure opportunists” and claiming the label “not only lacked interest in promoting my albums, they were no longer interested in releasing them.”

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Now, the recordings have been released on a new album called The Last Recordings, which dropped today (November 17). Initially, the songs were released as a limited-edition European record following Denver’s untimely death in 1997, and they occasionally popped up on compilation records. But, this is the first time all of the re-recordings have been released as a collection in the U.S.

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“John would have been 80 this year,” said Amy Abrams, manager of Denver’s estate. “We recently passed 25 years since he passed away. We want to make sure fans have access to those recordings.”

Of the re-recording sessions, keyboard player Chris Nole recalled, “The mood was laid back. It was always relaxed, because we didn’t have a record label or manager breathing down our necks. It was just making John happy.”

Alan Deremo, who played bass in the sessions, shared that Denver’s voice took on a more rounded quality in the re-recordings, growing deeper and more gravelly over the years. “He lost a lot of the boyish quality that his voice had early on,” he said. “It ripened into a really full, beautiful-sounding instrument.”

The album features classic hits like “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Sunshine On My Shoulders,” and “Rocky Mountain High.” Denver intended for the re-recordings to take the place of the originals under RCA and with the evolution in his vocals, it was more than just a reclaiming of the masters. Denver grew as an artist with age and with this collection of his final recordings, that growth can finally be experienced by the world.

Photo by Tony Russell/Redferns

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