Sunday, February 04, 2007

201. James Taylor - Sweet Baby James (1970)

Track Listing

1. Sweet Baby James
2. Lo And Behold
3. Sunny Skies
4. Steamroller
5. Country Roads
6. Oh Susannah
7. Fire And Rain
8. Blossom
9. Anywhere Like Heaven
10. Oh Baby Don't You Lose Your Lip On Me
11. Suite For 20 G


There are three singer/songwriters I was brought up with, mainly due to the fact that they were the ones that my parents kept playing on car trips etc... They were Leonard Cohen, Cat Stevens and James Taylor. Of course Cohen is the best of these three by miles, but I will always keep a special place in my heart for the other two.

Sweet Baby James must have been an album I've listened to hundreds of times since I was born, I know it all by heart. Mostly I heard it not by my own choice but because my parents were listening to it. Taylor is a very soothing singer and his songs are masterpieces of niceness, even though there is a darkness behind them. Fire And Rain, for example, the most comercially successful song on this album is about the suicide of a friend he had made while he was in an insane asylum.

Taylor's soothingness is at the same time his best and worst feature, he is missing some edge here but then if you need edge you go for The Stooges not for Taylor. What I admire Taylor for is his innovative mix of country, blues, rock and jazz and also the fact that he is a pretty underrated guitar player. Taylor's lyrics are also very much above average, from the transition from idyllic cowboy to modern urban imagery in the title track or the hit Fire And Rain. Even Taylor's constant mentions of Jesus and religion come across not as Bible-thumping religiousness but as actual heartflet pleas in a very Blues tradition. Taylor is a great musician and writer and he deserves a closer listen. Get it at Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Sweet Baby James
2. Fire And Rain
3. Suite For 20 G
4. Country Road

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

In 2003, the album was ranked number 103 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

In 2003 the TV network VH1 named Sweet Baby James the 77th greatest album of all time.

He provided a guest voice to The Simpsons episode "Deep Space Homer" where he played some of his songs to Homer, Buzz Aldrin, and another astronaut when they were in space.

His persona made an appearance in the South Park episode, Fat Camp, where he sings "The Prostitute Song" with Chef.

Fire And Rain:

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