Saturday, November 28, 2009

Taj MAHAL - Taj Mahal 1968

Taj MAHAL - Taj Mahal 1968


Taj Mahal's debut album was a startling statement in its time and has held up remarkably well. Recorded in August of 1967, it was as hard and exciting a mix of old and new blues sounds as surfaced on record in a year when even a lot of veteran blues artists (mostly at the insistence of their record labels) started turning toward psychedelia. The guitar virtuosity, embodied in Taj Mahal's slide work (which had the subtlety of a classical performance), Jesse Ed Davis's lead playing, and rhythm work by Ry Cooder and Bill Boatman, is of the neatly stripped-down variety that was alien to most records aiming for popular appeal, and the singer himself approached the music with a startling mix of authenticity and youthful enthusiasm. The whole record is a strange and compelling amalgam of stylistic and technical achievements -- filled with blues influences of the 1930s and 1940s, but also making use of stereo sound separation and the best recording technology. The result was numbers like Sleepy John Estes' "Diving Duck Blues," with textures resembling the mix on the early Cream albums, while "The Celebrated Walkin' Blues" (even with Cooder's animated mandolin weaving its spell on one side of the stereo mix) has the sound of a late '40s Chess release by Muddy Waters. Blind Willie McTell ("Statesboro Blues") and Robert Johnson ("Dust My Broom") are also represented, in what had to be one of the most quietly, defiantly iconoclastic records of 1968. ~ Bruce Eder
Though these 1968 sides were cut in LA at the apex of the burgeoning counterculture movement, the main influences at play here are those of the Mississippi Delta blues. Featuring early performances from Ry Cooder and Jesse Ed Davis, TAJ MAHAL is the joyfully confident debut that propelled the eponymous bluesman to national recognition. Comparable to similar experiments by Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield and British blues maven John Mayall, Mahal's sound is both intensely traditional and aggressively pure.
For an example of the former, check out the album's closer, "The Celebrated Walkin' Blues," the intro of which sounds as if it could have been recorded any time in the previous 30 years, while "Statesboro Blues," with Davis's thrillingly raw slide interjections featured heavily throughout, is an intensely focused performance still capable of producing chills decades after the fact. There's no tinkering with genre here, as was later to become the style with countless '60s and '70s blues rock bands--what's on offer on TAJ MAHAL is a direct electrified line to the heart and soul of a seminal American art form. This edition features alternate artwork to the original, chosen by Mahal himself, and contemporary liner notes by celebrated critic Stanley Crouch.Entertainment Weekly.
Jessie Edwin Davis- Lead Guitar, Piano
Ryland P. Cooder- Rhythm Guitar, Mandolin
James Thomas- Bass
Sanford Konikoff- Drums
Taj Mahal- Vocals, Slide Guitar, Harp
Bill Boatman- Rhythm Guitar
Gary Gilmore- Bass
Charles Blackwell- Drums
A1. Leaving Trunk 4:49  
A2. Statesboro Blues 2:58 
A3. Checkin' Up On My Baby 4:54 
A4. Everybody's Got To Change Sometime 2:56 

B1. E Z Rider  3:03 
B2. Dust My Broom 2:37  
B3. Diving Duck Blues 2:40 
B4. The Celebrated Walkin' Blues 8:52

No comments:

Post a Comment