James Taylor - vocals, acoustic guitar
Fans of James Taylor will love this early, totally unplugged concert from America's leading acoustic singer/songwriter. Recorded in the arts-friendly community of Berkeley, CA, at the dawn of his career in 1970, this show is pure, unedited JT with no gimmicks or other musicians to muddy the presentation. Recorded while Taylor was promoting his first Warner Brothers album, Sweet Baby James, shortly after jumping from his debut album deal with The Beatles' Apple Records, this show features mostly material from those two discs.
Opening with "Country Roads," Taylor offers up some terrific guitar work, and a baritone voice that is pure and smooth. He then goes into "Something In The Way She Moves," a tune from his debut album. Interestingly enough, weeks after Taylor recorded this song, George Harrison would write and record a song with The Beatles called "Something," with the opening line, "Something In The Way She Moves."
Taylor, as always, is personable throughout the show, and whenever possible, comical (check out his rap during "Steamroller Blues"). There are several Taylor originals showcased, including "Blossom," "Carolina In My Mind," and perhaps his biggest hit, "Fire & Rain." The real highlights of the show, however, are the covers, which Taylor delivers beautifully. He performs his trademark version of Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Up On The Roof" (originally written for The Drifters) and a tender re-make of friend Joni Mitchell's "Playing Real Good For Free." Also included is a version of "In My Reply," which was penned by his younger brother, Livingston Taylor.
He offers a cool instrumental version of the old English tune, "Greensleeves," (a big hit during the days of Henry VIII, and also Bill Graham's favorite song), which proves just how versatile and skilled a guitarist he is. Near the end of the show, he does an updated version of the Stephen Foster American classic "Oh Susanna," which, when written in the 1840s, was likely the first pop song ever composed. This intimate show is not to be missed.