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Taj Mahal
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Taj Mahal (vocals, slide guitar, harmonica); Ryland "Ry" P. Cooder (guitar, mandolin); Jesse Edwin Davis (guitar, piano); Gary Gilmore, James Thomas, Charles Blackwell (bass); Sanford Konikoff (drums).
  • Producer: David Rubinson.
  • Reissue producer: Bob Irwin.
  • Recorded in August 1967.
  • Originally released on Columbia (9579).
  • Includes liner notes by Tom Nolan, Taj Mahal & Stanley Crouch.
  • Though these 1968 sides were cut in LA at the apex of the burgeoning counterculture movement, the main influences at play here are those of the Mississippi Delta blues. Featuring early performances from Ry Cooder and Jesse Ed Davis, TAJ MAHAL is the joyfully confident debut that propelled the eponymous bluesman to national recognition. Comparable to similar experiments by Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield and British blues maven John Mayall, Mahal's sound is both intensely traditional and aggressively pure.
  • For an example of the former, check out the album's closer, "The Celebrated Walkin' Blues," the intro of which sounds as if it could have been recorded any time in the previous 30 years, while "Statesboro Blues," with Davis's thrillingly raw slide interjections featured heavily throughout, is an intensely focused performance still capable of producing chills decades after the fact. There's no tinkering with genre here, as was later to become the style with countless '60s and '70s blues rock bands--what's on offer on TAJ MAHAL is a direct electrified line to the heart and soul of a seminal American art form. This edition features alternate artwork to the original, chosen by Mahal himself, and contemporary liner notes by celebrated critic Stanley Crouch.
Professional Reviews
Entertainment Weekly (9/8/00, p.89) - "...A breath of fresh air....exploding with high spirits...it might be Taj Mahal's best..." - Rating: A

Living Blues (5-6/01, p.90) - "...A first-rate album of blues/rock....Taj sticks to harmonica throughout...the album's strength are Taj's vocals which convey a passionate and natural blues intensity..."
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