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21 Reviews
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A-MEN, brother reviewer..., September 13, 2003
By 
"douglasnegley" (Pittsburgh, Pa. United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Real Thing (Audio CD)
Yeah, man, the "official" reviewer just doesn't get it AT ALL. This is one of the best ROOTS recordings EVER - and I don't say that lightly. Remember...this is 1971...LIVE, a 2 LP recording, at the Fillmore...I mean, the Allman Brothers - WITH DUANE - did their recording that same year. Now, how many acts could have gotten away with playing a tune with nothing but a banjo and a TUBA, for cryin' out loud! ("Tom And Sally Drake")? Taj Mahal, that's who. Taj engages the audience as well as anyone ("Gimme some help...GIMME SOME! - You can do it...if you're jacked up to it...) and standouts here are the norm. "You're Goin' To Need Somebody On Your Bond" is the groover, with Taj 'gettin spiritual' with the blues, and doing the back and forth with the crowd. Also a highlight is "Ain't Gwine Whistle Dixie No Mo'", where every band member gets a piece of the action, and my spine tingles at the thought of John Simon groovin' on the piano, and John Hall doing a GREAT guitar solo, and ending, with Taj whistling over the many horns. No, if you don't get it, you don't get it...but I was 15...and I got it. This is Taj's moment in Time, Live - History, I believe it's called - and he grabs on and holds tight. Any fan of blues, jazz, roots, gospel, or African-American music History has to consider this a MUST HAVE CD. Period.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Blues Rev Speaks, August 8, 2001
By 
Blues Rev (Ridgefield Park, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Real Thing (Audio CD)
I completely wore out my original double LP album listening to The Real Thing. And "REAL" it is. This is my favorite Taj Mahal album and one of the top five of my favorite blues albums of all time, considering that my Blues LP and CD collection exceeds 350 albums. The ochestration of traditonal blues songs played with by a typical blues band coupled with the backing brass section of Mr. Howard Johnson and friends, is more powerful than a B-52 air raid. I'm going to purchase a second copy of this album for my archives because I know I'll wear out this CD before long.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is it!, August 3, 2003
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Real Thing (Audio CD)
The "official" review doesn't take into account the power of this album as a whole. The chemistry is there, and this has the raw energy of the best blues. One of my favorite albums of all time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get much better than this, October 14, 2000
This review is from: The Real Thing (Audio CD)
I'd been waiting for the CD release to replace two well-worn vinyl copies of this energetic, unique live performance. from the first time I heard this recording nearly 30 years ago, its become a treasure.
Taj Mahal and his back up band perform a variety of "great American folks tunes" with an intensity and ease seldom found in any performance. The music, no matter how old the tunes are, sounds fresh and displays a lack of datedness, pretense or restraint.
The instrumentation and arrangements are unusual (a banjo and tuba duet, for instance) and full of joy.
Great music and great fun---this is "The Real Thing"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic finally resurfaces!, September 7, 2000
This review is from: The Real Thing (Audio CD)
Taj, an American original, put this band together in 1970 and toured with it during the winter of 1970-71. I saw them in an absolutely amazing concert in which they left an audience of college students hollering for more. After a set of Taj on steel bodied guitar, the four horn players came on stage, each holding a tuba! Blues with tubas! The horn players included Howard Johnson, a legendary sideman, and as you might expect, the tubas were replaced with a more traditional array of horns before too long. I went out and bought this album as soon as the campus record store opened the next day. I wore it out and bought another, which I've kept ever since.
Originally issued as a two record set, this disc consists partially of Taj playing his steel bodied guitar -- "Fishin' Blues" -- and partly cuts by the band -- "Sweet Mama Janisse," "Ain't Goin' To Whistle Dixie No Mo'," and "Goin' To Move Up To the Country and Paint My Mailbox Blue," among others.
Taj on steel bodied is entirely unique; no one does it better, and he has been the premier proponent of this genre of music for many years. These are good live cuts.
The horn band material is casual, even raucous, and entirely ecstatic. The sound is completely spontaneous and upbeat -- it doesn't even sound rehearsed. Don't expect studio sound or deeply introspective performances. This is a band out there jammin' and having fun. To me that's what makes this album special -- there's just no way to be sad while you picture four guys strutting around on stage with tubas, while the leader whistles or plays a penny whistle or harp, with a honky tonk piano on the side. Blues With a Feelin' indeed.
Glad to have this back again. I didn't know how I was going to replace my old vinyl version.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Live Album., September 11, 2012
This review is from: The Real Thing (Audio CD)
There is something magical and revealing about a live recording. There's no place to hide, no second takes, no over-dubs, no studio tricks. The other reviewers discuss "The Real Thing" as a blues album. Why limit it to a genre? It is simply one of the greatest live recordings, ever, right up there with The Who's "Live at Leeds"; Hendrix' "Band of Gypsies"; "Sinatra at the Sands" (with the Basie Band, Quincy Jones conducting); Duke Ellington's "The Great Paris Concert"; Miles Davis' "My Funny Valentine"; B.B. King's "Live at the Regal"; Art Blakey's "A Night at Birdland, Vol. 2"; Dexter Gordon's "Swiss Nights Vol. 1"; and Carmen McRae's "At the Great American Music Hall".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Taj Always Had His Own Style, September 12, 2003
By 
Travis (Medford, OR, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Real Thing (Audio CD)
This is an excellent Taj Mahal CD. The album is fun and relaxing and must have been a great show to see. The quality of the music is great considering it was taken from a live performance. Although, a few times on the CD when Taj is talking between songs, the sound drops very quiet for a short time but quickly shoots back up to a good volume. The use of horns is a great change on this album and the other musicians on the stage sound great throughout. This is a good CD which will spice up any blues collection by providing a sound different from most other blues albums.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One tune makes the whole album with while, April 1, 2012
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This review is from: The Real Thing (Audio CD)
I bought the original vinyl album back in the days when I was a freelance rock and roll writer. I am not quite sure how I ran across Taj Mahal probably heard something on the radio but decided to check out the album. There is one track on this album (yes it is also on Greatest Hits but this is the One) and it is called "Ain't Gwine to whistle Dixie any more". It starts with a bold brave whistle, a strut and ends the same way strutting out. It has a John Simon piano solo that is to die for. For me this is the track that has got me through a lot of truly hard times - just the attitude of it.
When my significant other died in 2008 I chose that tune to be played at the fuheral. He was a basketball player and one person who heard it said she could just imagine him whistling that tune and bouncing the basketball.
Of course there are quite a few other tracks too on this album. And there are good tunes and good songs and good music played. But this one track makes the price of the whole album worth every cent.
Thank you for having it available Amazon!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime recording, thank goodness for CD format, December 27, 2011
By 
Humble Servant (Bellingham, MA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Real Thing (Audio CD)
This was one of my favorite records from the 1970s, and when the Christmas season rolled around this year, I asked for it from my brother, whose LP I ran flat in playing it over the years. This recording was my introduction to Taj, and to have it in CD form lets me run the bits off it again. Magnificent singing, performances by Howard Johnson, John Hall, John Simon, and the others who played that night.
Only ding on this is the CD sleeve - they don't list the songs on the back cover, and inside is just the song list with none of the artists, date, place, nothing. If it is indeed created 'on demand' then we demand that at least the information from the LP be included.
You cannot be disappointed with this CD, listen to it all the way thru, you'll be whistling Dixie, or something, the rest of the day.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 Tubas, July 21, 2010
This review is from: The Real Thing (Audio CD)
I saw this concert at the old Shrine Auditorium in Pittsburgh in 1970. The whole building shook like an earthquake when they stuck the microphones down inside FOUR tubas and played.
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The Real Thing
The Real Thing by Taj Mahal
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