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Taj Mahal Original recording remastered

4.8 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Taj Mahal's been chasing the blues around the world for years, but rarely with the passion, energy, and clarity he brought to his first three albums. Taj Mahal, The Natch'l Blues and The Real Thing are the sound of the artist, who was born in 1942, defining himself and his music. On his self-titled 1967 debut, he not only honors the sound of the Delta masters with his driving National steel guitar and hard vocal shout, but ladles in elements of rock and country with the help of guitarists Ry Cooder and the late Jessie Ed Davis. This approach is reinforced and broadened by The Natch'l Blues. What's most striking is Mahal's way of making even the oldest themes sound as if they're part of a new era. Not just through the vigor of his playing--relentlessly propulsive, yet stripped down compared with the six-string ornamentations of the original masters of country blues--but through his singing, which possesses a knowing insouciance distinct to post-Woodstock counterculture hipsters. It's the voice of an informed young man who knows he's offering something deep to an equally hip and receptive audience.

Soon, Mahal turned his multicultural vision of the blues even further outward. The live 1971 set, The Real Thing, finds him still carrying the Mississippi torch, while adding overt elements of jazz and Afro-Caribbean music to its flame. But it's overreaching. His band sounds under-rehearsed, and the arrangements seem more like rough outlines. Nonetheless, these albums set the stage for Mahal's career. (For a condensed version, try the fine The Best of Taj Mahal.) Today, he continues to make fine fusion albums, like 1999's Kulanjan, with Malian kora master Toumani Diabate, and less exciting but still eclectic recordings with his Phantom Blues Band. --Ted Drozdowski

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 5, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00004XSUW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,543 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
It's hard to believe that 40 years have elapsed since Taj Mahal recorded his self-titled album. I can honestly say that Taj's debut album DID change my life because he opened the world of delta blues to me and transformed me from a suburban garage rocker into a fanatical avid collector of worn out 78 rpm of Mississippi blues recorded in the 1920s and 1930s. I learned most of my blues chops on guitar from listening to this album over and over.

Technically this isn't Taj's first album but it's the first album that most music fans heard Taj Mahal on. Both "Giant Step" and "De Ole Folks at Home" were released earlier and combined into a second release after the success of this self titled album.

Taj's album led me to appreciate the significance of blues players like Robert Johnson, who was a forgotten and obscure figure in the world of popular music before Taj Mahal. It was the first time I ever heard anyone play an open tuned guitar in the blues bottleneck style. I remember using a screwdriver and a newly purchased book of open tunings for guitar to imitate Jesse Davis' trademark southern fried guitar sound. A year later everyone from Duane Allman, Eric Clapton to Taj's own session player Ry Cooder had albums out playing bottleneck blues in the vintage style of Robert Johnson.

Nobody, not even John Fahey or Paul Butterfield did more than Taj Mahal to expand the audience for authentic blues to a crossover audience of suburban white kids who were living in the psychedelic renaissance of such great bands as the Doors, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience when Taj's debut was released.
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Format: Audio CD
This reissue is a good one. The music displayed here is a "roosty" sound that Clapton was seeking after he left the big ol' Marshall sound. Taj, the Band, Dave Mason, Delany & Bonnie..... & the closest he got to it was with the Dominos. Ry Cooder seems to get most of the PR for the guitar work on this album, but the real star is Jesse Ed Davis. He answers Taj's vocals & harps on these tracks from the opening track. While the trend of the day was to play LOUD, the playing of players such as Davis & Robertson was a welcome addition to the music scene. And yes, the Statesboro Blues later influenced a young Duane Allman to pick up a Coricidin bottle....if you are into Taj's "blues" work, this is the place to start.
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Format: Audio CD
Taj's first was one of his best. This is just basic electric blues, powered by the fresh enthusiasm of Taj, Ry Cooder, the now departed Jessie Ed Davis on lead guitar, and other young bucks. The Allman Brothers used Taj's arrangement of "Statesboro Blues" for their live version -- I wonder how many Allmans fans realize that?

This album has the energy, punch and optimism that filled the air in 1967. It fits perfectly with the first, self-titled album by Chicago's Butterfield Blues Band, and with the self-titled album by Chicago's Siegel-Schwall Band released by Wooden Nickel in 1971 (see my review). These albums still sound fresh today!

The only Taj Mahal album I love more than this one is HAPPY JUST TO BE LIKE I AM, from 1971, which has more of a country-blues emphasis, along with an awesome horn section and Taj's first foray into world-music with "West Indian Revelation." It was reissued by Wounded Bird Records in 2009, but now seems to be available only in MP3 form.
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By A Customer on May 23, 1999
Format: Audio CD
If you're here, you've done your research or have found how difficult it is to locate this title. This and Na'chal Blues are his two best original works, until he started winning grammies. His rendition of 'Easy Rider' is the best these ears have heard, with Johnny Winter a strong second. His 'Walkin Blues' is outstanding, a must if you have not heard his version before. If you need more than 1 man's opinion, see what the AMG says--they agree!
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Format: Audio CD
This album is a major link between the worlds of historic blues and mainstream rock'n'roll. It's blues with a rock tinge, rather like early Rolling Stones could be considered rock with a blues influence. Taj Mahal mines the historic blues-song archives and the arrangements are tight, driving, and above all, danceable as hell (keep in mind that the blues aren't just some depressed guy sitting around crying into his guitar -- they are party music, and that function is as important as personal expression). Taj has some incredibly skilled musicians in his bands, and they support him with lively, almost fiery playing that complements the effort that Taj puts forth very well.
This album introduced me to the blues in 1968 and I have researched, played, sung, and loved the blues ever since. I still have the vinyl disk, worn and crackly. To have the music as clear and fresh as it is here is a godsend.
It's a lot of fun to get into the background of such music, hear its roots, and later hear (and understand) its offspring. But the best thing about this album -- it's just plain fun to hear.
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