Taj is impossible to classify, impossible to resist. This first-ever Taj Mahal retrospective has it all: the classics (including performances with Ry Cooder, Boz Scaggs and Elvin Bishop) and the rarities-15 never-before-released recordings! These include killer tracks from the Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus ; live performances with the Pointer Sisters and from Austin City Limits , and much more. All told, 54 tracks with detailed notes and historic photos. Definitely not to be missed.
Taj Mahal has become a blues ambassador, carrying the music to new audiences and melding it with other influences. It's altogether appropriate, then, that three of the early tracks on this three-CD set are unreleased from the Rolling Stones 1968 musical experiment, Rock and Roll Circus
. This box emphasizes (but is not limited to) Taj's early career--the late-'60s through the mid-'70s--and whether he's playing solo acoustic instrumentals ("Buck Dancer's Choice"), revving up a rock band ("Statesboro Blues"), or weaving his National Steel guitar around tubas ("Sweet Mama Janisse"), the blues element is never far from center. He even brings out the Pointer Sisters, who funkify the blues standard, "Sweet Home Chicago." The latter part of the box ventures into the 1980s and '90s, and features some songs for kids. Taj Mahal makes a world gumbo of the blues, spiced with a nice hot sauce. --Robert Gordon