Verities & Balderdash is a very strange and wonderful album. “Cat’s in the Cradle” was the driving force behind the album’s sales, but there’s a lot more to appeal to listeners, along with enough personal, topical material to make it seem a bit didactic at the time, but Chapin was cultivating a politically committed audience. Verities & Balderdash walked several fine lines, between topical songwriting and an almost (but not quite) pretentious sense of its own importance, humor and seriousness, and balladry and punditry, all intermingled with catchy, highly commercial ballads such as “I Wanna Learn a Love Song” (which is about as pretty a song as he ever wrote).
This Rhino-issued box set features five of the late great singer/songwriter's best albums in their entireties, including Heads and Tales (1972), Sniper and Other Love Songs (1972), Short Stories (1973), Verities & Balderdash (1974), and On the Road to Kingdom Come (1976).
This is yet another Harry Chapin anthology, which, like the others, is a fine representation of his career. All the hits are here, "Taxi," "Cat's in the Cradle," "W.O.L.D.," "Mr. Tanner," and the like, which are detailed well in the liner notes. This set may be a better choice for the casual fan as opposed to Story of a Life: The Harry Chapin Box Set, as it is more concise. There are also some interesting snipets taken from various interviews and events, which offer a window into Chapin's strong ideals and also his sense of humor.
On the Road to Kingdom Come sounded more like a rock album than anything Harry Chapin had done to date. In the hands of sympathetic producer/arranger Stephen Chapin, Harry's songs are infused with clever and often humorous bits of musical commentary – horns, electric guitars, keyboards, backing vocals, and various sound effects pop up at opportune times throughout – that makes much of the material instantly ingratiating.