Sunday, July 02, 2017

James Taylor - Sweet Baby James

When I started playing guitar in the 60's, I was highly influenced by my folkie brother and sister who taught me to play and encouraged my progression (thanks Terry and Sharon!). Among the other folk artists that I learned from (Leonard Cohen, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and others) was James Taylor, mostly due to his huge hit, "Fire and Rain", from this record.

On this, his second album, James is helped out by a who's-who of the LA folk scene - Carole King on piano, Randy Meisner on bass, Danny Kooch on guitar, steel guitarist Red Rhodes, and fiddle player Chris Darrow, among others. Taylor has a sweet, clear voice and was a fine songwriter, with folk numbers like the opening title track, the bluesy "Lo and Behold" (with some nice guitar pickin'), the good timey "Sunny Skies", "Steamroller" is a pure blues that almost borders on parody due to the lyrics, but it has a good groove, "Country Road" is country-ish folk and one of his most memorable numbers, and he does an interpretation of the well-known "Oh Susannah".

Of course, "Fire and Rain" has always been his most popular tune, and it is an excellent modern folk tune about his spending some time in an asylum and, apparently, his hopes and dreams during those trying times. "Blossom" is nice though not as memorable, "Anywhere Like Heaven" has fine steel guitar and a nice arrangement, "Oh Baby, Don't You Loose Your Lip On Me" is basically a loose blues jam and then he finishes up with "Suite For 20-G", an upbeat folk number with good finger-pickin' and vocal harmonies.

Ya gotta be able to dig soft, acoustic folk-pop to dig Taylor, but iffin ya do, this is probably his best album.