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Sweet Baby James


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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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$6.19
$2.99 $0.01

James Taylor - Before This World James Taylor - Before This World

$6.19 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The album that launched a thousand heavy-hearted singer-songwriters on their not-so-merry way, Sweet Baby James was arguably the first shot in what became the soft revolution of the early '70s. A refugee of the Beatles' Apple label, Taylor struck commercial gold with Sweet Baby James by augmenting his acoustic guitar and soothing vocals with laid-back accompaniment (which included equally influential singer-songwriter insurrectionist Carole King on piano) and penning a slew of songs that drew upon folk, soul, and rock influences. "Fire and Rain" stands as the quintessential early Taylor tune: musically mellow and lyrically restive, it put Taylor in the Top 10 and set the tone for a popular school of '70s sound.

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The album that launched a thousand heavy-hearted singer-songwriters on their not-so-merry way, Sweet Baby James was arguably the first shot in what became the soft revolution of the early '70s. A refugee of the Beatles' Apple label, Taylor struck commercial gold with Sweet Baby James by augmenting his acoustic guitar and soothing vocals with laid-back accompaniment (which included equally influential singer-songwriter insurrectionist Carole King on piano) and penning a slew of songs that drew upon folk, soul, and rock influences. "Fire and Rain" stands as the quintessential early Taylor tune: musically mellow and lyrically restive, it put Taylor in the Top 10 and set the tone for a popular school of '70s sound. --Steven Stolder

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Sweet Baby James 2:52$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Lo And Behold 2:37$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Sunny Skies 2:21$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Steamroller 2:59$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Country Road 3:25$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Oh, Susannah 2:01$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Fire And Rain 3:21$0.69  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Blossom 2:14$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Anywhere Like Heaven 3:28$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen10. Oh Baby, Don't Let Your Lip Loose On Me 1:50$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen11. Suite For 20 G 4:46$1.29  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Off Roster
  • ASIN: B000002KB3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,975 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 63 people found the following review helpful By allemande on November 7, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I see that another reviewer here has faulted this CD, noting that there is a muffled quality to its sound. Well, I noticed that too at first hearing, but soon began to suspect that there was a reason for the differences between this and the original Warner Brothers issue of the same title. As my ears adjusted to this new treatment of familiar music, I could hear that the sound was not muffled, but was in fact more balanced, each vocal and instrumental line in better proportion to the others, than I had ever before heard it.

I compared the Warner CD masterings of several of the same tracks to this disc, and found this one superior. Again, the difference is in matters of balance and proportion. While the Warner sound could be called "bright" or "hot", this newer mastering sounds less like a rock recording and more in keeping with the country and blues influences that are truly at its core. On "Country Road", for example, the sound of the drums does not overwhelm all else, as on the Warner disc. From soft cymbal strokes to heavy bass drum accents, the drums are heard clearly at all times, but do not dominate, which to me makes more musical sense.

"Fire and Rain" includes a cello part which I have always believed was meant to be more felt than heard. On the Warner CD the cello sound is uneven, surging at times, then fading and becoming barely audible. In this new mastering there is smoothness and consistency in the cello line. It is present always, but subtle, lending body to the whole but maintaining a proper sonic perspective.

This CD, released by Audio Fidelity, features mastering by Steve Hoffman, whose work has been praised for years by so-called "golden ears" people--generally audiophiles who spend many hours listening to and comparing recordings.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on July 9, 2000
Format: Audio CD
With the launching of this album, a thirty-year career was sent into high orbit. Of course, it is still up there, spinning and lightening our loads as we make our way through the days and evenings of our lives. If the baby boomers have a long-play soundtrack to their lives, most of the songs on this album would be on it, beginning with "Sweet Baby James", a lullaby written for his nephew but detailing his voluntary `escape' from the Austin Riggs center in Stockbridge. Massachusetts, riding down the turnpike to Boston, and on to London, where he was `discovered' by the Beatles.
Then there is "Fire and Rain", another autobiographical tune that was one of the biggest smash hits of all time, one covered by more solo artists than any other, and "Country Road", by now instantly identified by its opening chords by thousands of Taylor fans. It is all here, folks; the voice, the songs, and the guitar work that made James Taylor the superstar/singer/songwriter laureate of the seventies. Along with John Denver, Cat Stevens, Elton John, and Van Morrison, he virtually revolutionized popular music for a generation with his very personal, often intense, and always very approachable and melodic approach to music. There are hours and hours of wonderful experience in store for anyone with this album, whether you've come down in a space ship and are just introducing yourself to his work, or you are an old friend stopping by to sit on the front porch for a spell while Mudslide Slim plays and sings in his unforgettable voice for you. Enjoy!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1999
Format: Audio CD
In addition to being the album with THE JT hits which one cannot get tired of listening, this album includes Taylor's rendition of "Oh Susannah" with the chord changes and guitar styling that cuts straight to your heart. The perfect segue to Fire And Rain, James takes the Stephen Foster standard and completely transforms the feel to create the type of melancholy overtone that stings behind the eyes.
Hearing the hits in the context of the other songs is totally different than owning the Greatest Hits album. One gets in touch with more of the mood of a "pre-superstar" Taylor. A little less refinement in exchange for a lot more gut. As for the hits themselves, I have personally performed "Fire And Rain" for over ten years and still find myself aimlessly wandering around a supermarket until the end of the song whenever it comes on. This is the lasting power of truly classic art, which is severely lacking in today's music scene. Young, up and coming musicians can learn a lot from the texture of this early work.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 22, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone

Susanne the plans they made put an end to you

I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song

I just can't remember who to send it to

It was rather ironic that James Taylor was considered such a sensitive and soothing singer-songwriter when you listen to his signature song, "Fire and Rain," which is about the suicide of a friend who had been an inmate at a mental institution where Taylor had been committed by his parents (it also gives his cover of Stephen Foster's "Oh, Susannah" a very personal meaning). The song was written in three parts: the first verse was written in a London flat about his reactions to the death of his friend; the second verse was written in a New York hospital about Taylor trying to kick his heroin habit; and the third verse was written at a Massachusetts psychiatric facility as he recuperated from his experience.

But while the subject matter was certainly depressing, "Fire and Rain" had a confessional quality that gave it a sense of intimacy that set it apart from what others were doing. In early 1971 he was on the cover of "Time" magazine, literarily the poster boy for the wave of singer-songwriters that were dominating the music scene, including most notably his good friend Carole King and his future wife Carly Simon. Taylor was perfectly suited for the early 1970s music scene: his lyrics were introspective and because he played acoustic guitar he could sing his songs in a rather quiet manner. After the turmoil of the 1960s, which was certainly reflected in the music of the times, Taylor was a breath of fresh air.

This album made it to #3 on the Billboard Albums chart while "Fire and Rain" made it to that same spot as a single.
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