TAJ MAHAL — The Natch'l Blues (review)

TAJ MAHAL — The Natch'l Blues album cover Album · 1968 · Jazz Related Blues Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Matt
Back in 1973 as a fourteen year old kid I was reading a novel named “The Merry Month Of May” by the author James Jones and throughout the novel one subject that kept being mentioned was they always playin’ The Blues in amongst all those sordid details of an American Family living in Paris throughout the student demonstrations set at the Sorbonne during the late sixties. Asked an older friend if he had any of this Blues music as living in Australia it was primarily Rock And Roll, Folk and Country that I was being fed, albeit I was hearing Blues via The Rolling Stones, Dylan etc but I wanted to hear the real stuff and along came a couple of albums on loan with one being a BB King and this one by Taj Mahal titled “The Natch’l Blues”.

Recorded in 1968 being Taj Mahal’s second release for that year after his self titled debut album that featured Ry Cooder with this having close to the same band with the exception of Ry Cooder and Bill Boatman on Rhythm Guitar with this being primarily a four piece band but we do have the addition of Mr “Like A Rolling Stone” Al Kooper adding piano and Earl Palmer on drums most famously known for his work with Little Richard making appearances as well. One of the interesting points concerning this album is it hard to categorise and it is not Chicago or Soul but having most of its Roots in Folk with a contemporary electric approach which is perhaps when one looks back is the reason for its success and high status that it has garnered over the years due to its difference when recorded during this period in time.

Taj Mahal’s steel guitar is the first thing one hears for the opening number “Good Morning Miss Brown” having that classic 4/4 time in this great mid tempo number with the following “Corrina” bringing a more distinct folk presence to the album but it is not the old classic folk number ‘Corrina Corrina” as this one was penned by Taj with some delightful Harp inserted. It’s a great bounce for “I Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Steal My Jellyroll” with Taj letting fly with some more of that Steal bodied guitar and the following “Going Up To The Country, Paint My Mailbox Blue” has the harp back. Side one closes with the promise “Done Changed My Way Of Living” delivered with a harsh beat for Taj’s roughed up vocals to sing over. Things keep getting better when one flips the record with the delightful and one of the best numbers “She Caught The Katy And Left Me A Mule To Ride” with more of that great bounce and harp instilled with more to follow for “The Cuckoo”. The ballad “You Don’t Miss Your Water ( ‘Til Your Well Runs Dry)” is one of the album’s covers with some great Blues flavour and Brass added for this album standout with the album finishing up with another cover and the rockiest number within “A Lot Of Love”

Classic Blues with its own touch and even though I heard it in my early days I was lucky that this one came along with that loan which I went and bought when I had to return it. As for the James Jones book after I felt like I had to wade through it I was delighted to get back into Harold Robbins and Alistair McClean but it did get me into The Blues.
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