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The Essential James Taylor

4.8 out of 5 stars 128 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 29, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

Over the course of a 45-year career, James Taylor has cultivated a profound, intimate friendship, not just with the characters who populate his songs, but with his legions of fans. As immediately accessible as those songs are, there is always more going on in them than meets the ear on first listen. The Essential James Taylor is a collection of recordings that define a generation.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Sweet Baby James
  2. Fire and Rain
  3. Long Ago and Far Away
  4. You've Got a Friend
  5. Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
  6. Walking Man
  7. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)
  8. Mexico
  9. Shower the People
  10. Steamroller
  11. Something in the Way She Moves
  12. Carolina in My Mind
  13. Handy Man
  14. Your Smiling Face
  15. Honey Don't Leave L.A.

Disc: 2

  1. Millworker
  2. Her Town Too - James Taylor with J.D. Souther
  3. Everyday
  4. Only One
  5. Never Die Young
  6. Copperline
  7. The Water Is Wide
  8. Country Road
  9. Secret O'Life
  10. Little More Time with You
  11. Another Day
  12. Hard Times Come Again No More - Yo-Yo Ma
  13. Caroline I See You
  14. My Traveling Star
  15. You Can Close Your Eyes


Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 29, 2013)
  • Original Release Date: October 29, 2013
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • ASIN: B00F3TD8HU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,531 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The latest artist to be represented in Sony's `Essential' series, James Taylor has long been in need of a worthy multi-disc compilation of his best work spanning from his debut in the late 1960s' to the present; unfortunately, "The Essential James Taylor" does not fulfill this task.

To be fair, the set does nail almost all of the important highlights: "Something in the Way She Moves," "Sweet Baby James," the immortal "Fire and Rain," "You've Got a Friend," "Steamroller" and other well known tracks are present and accounted for. There are no complaints in that regard. Some extremely worthy albums such as "Millworker" and "Copperline" also made the cut.

Despite hitting these marks, the collection misses tremendously in other categories. First, some of the obscure choices just don't particularly strike me as particularly essential and could have been substituted with more worthy material; for example, why "Caroline, I See You" for "October Road" over the title cut, "September Grass," or "Raised Up Family," to name a few? Similarly, while Taylor's cover of "The Water is Wide" is a strong performance overall, it certainly is not more integral to his catalog than his own "Shed a Little Light" and "The Frozen Man," both superior cuts from "New Moon Shine." The same can be said for "Another Day" from "Hourglass,"; it's a nice song, but very brief and certainly not as powerful as "Line `Em Up" or "Enough to be On Your Way," the best songs from his best record.

The inclusions of live cuts are also a bit jarring. I can overlook the version of "Steamroller" because that's the one fans are most familiar and it really does improve upon the album cut, as does "My Traveling Star" from "One Man Band.
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I own most (if not all) of JT's videos and albums. I was pleased with this one because it has so many songs (2 discs) and includes a few new songs. The songs are taken from different performances, some live, some in the studio and the sound quality is clear and smooth. It's just a very nice collection of his best songs with good sound quality. I was very impressed.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a very good compilation album which gives an overview of James Taylor's work from his breakthrough in 1970 with Sweet Baby James (there's nothing from his self-titled first album here) to One Man Band in 2007. The music itself doesn't need much of a review from me because it's so well known, but it showcases Taylor's lovely, smooth voice, his excellent (and often underrated) guitar work and his fine songwriting. His various phases, moving between more folky and more jazzy stuff are all here and, as he always has been, it's a pleasure to listen to.

This is a very fair, well chosen selection, I think, although I am mystified by the omission of that towering masterpiece Terra Nova. But then, everyone will have their own favourites and any selection like this is bound to leave out one or two of your favourites if you're a fan. If you're looking for an overview or an introduction to the career of a very fine singer songwriter, this will do you very well. It's very good value and I recommend it warmly.
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There is little more to say that hasn't already been said about this man and his talent. This CD is well put together, hard-to-argue-with choice of songs, though all of us have our own little (or large) differences - our preferences for certain songs that happen to appeal to us personally. That taken into consideration, this CD of songs is pure gold. I have every song on this CD, but I own this one because all of those songs are on one CD instead of having to play several CDs. Case closed.
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Words can be so lacking when trying to express emotion. Not where James Taylor is concerned. I will let purchasers refer to the CD jacket where his fellow artists laud his works with perfection. All I know is I am so very happy that I purchased this compilation. Pure joy in my heart since it got here, and I have not stopped listening since. A music lover MUST HAVE.
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This 2 CD set is a nice change from all those greatest hits ones that are issued. It does have the favorites, but there are others in here that those who are not James Taylor aficionados might not normally hear or have in a collection.

There are a total of 30 tracks on the 2 CD's. The sound is fine with the exception of some of the live tracks, of which there are 5 that at some points the audience interaction can be a bit intrusive. Steamroller is one that you normally think of as hearing live, but this version with clapping during the song does nothing for listening when by yourself.

Still this is a very nice collection with favorites, old James Taylor standards and some different tracks than what would normally be on a greatest hits collection.
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Can you ever go wrong with JT? This 2 CD set has just about every song you'd need from James. The price is right, too. I buy this CD as a gift and it is always well received. This is the best compilation of his hits you'll find. Buy it and sing along.
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My son-in-law was so happy with this CD for Christmas. He was totally surprised that I would know he likes James Taylor. He opened it and played the album for us and I really like him too. My husband had enjoyed listening to him in the past. The shipment was right on time as always. I can always count on Amazon to get it right and get it to mee with time to spare. Thank you Amazon for offering this album.
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