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Rock - Released June 30, 1975 | Rhino

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Pop - Released January 24, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released February 28, 2020 | Fantasy

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Pop - Released July 19, 2019 | Rhino - Warner Records

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After leaving Apple Records in 1969, James Taylor signed a deal with Warner Bros. During those six years of partnership, his meteoritic rise made him one of the most adulated folk singers in the United States, for hits such as Fire and Rain and You’ve Got a Friend, that encapsulated his lyrical prowess, entrancing voice and overall capacity to rethink folk idioms in a more commercial-friendly format. Starting with Sweet Baby James in 1970, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon (1971) One Man Dog (1972), Walking Man (1974), Gorilla (1975), and last but not least In the Pocket, from 1976, the major steppingstones in Taylor’s career are here. These 6 albums, entirely remastered by Peter Asher, are featured on The Warner Bros. Albums: 1970-1976. The collection is a wonderful way to rediscover his halcyon days and his most important body of work, which would influence countless musicians during the 70s and after thanks to his sensitive, introspective charm. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz  
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Rock - Released August 23, 1977 | Rhino - Warner Records

James Taylor had scored eight Top 40 hits by the fall of 1976 when Warner Brothers marked the end of his contract with this compilation. One of those hits, the Top Ten gold single "Mockingbird," a duet with his wife Carly Simon, was on Elektra Records, part of the Warner family of labels and presumably available, but it was left off. "Long Ago and Far Away," a lesser hit (though it made the Top Ten on the easy listening charts), wasn't used either. In addition to the six hits -- "Fire and Rain," "Country Road," "You've Got a Friend," "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)," and "Shower the People" -- that were included, the album featured a couple of less successful singles, "Mexico" and "Walking Man," the album track "Sweet Baby James," and three previously unreleased recordings -- a live version of "Steamroller" and newly recorded versions of "Something in the Way She Moves" and "Carolina in My Mind," songs featured on Taylor's 1968 debut album, recorded for Apple/Capitol. The result was a reasonable collection for an artist who wasn't particularly well-defined by his singles. One got little sense of Taylor's evolution from the dour, confessional songs of his first two albums to the more conventional pop songs of his sixth and seventh ones. But one did hear isolated examples of Taylor's undeniable warmth and facility for folk/country-tinged pop. By the next summer, Taylor was back in the Top Ten on Columbia, and Greatest Hits was out of date. But it remains a good sampler of Taylor's more popular early work. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released February 1, 1970 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released November 1, 1976 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released June 21, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Records

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The heart of James Taylor's appeal is that you can take him two ways. On the one hand, his music, including that warm voice, is soothing; its minor key melodies and restrained playing draw in the listener. On the other hand, his world view, especially on such songs as "Fire and Rain," reflects the pessimism and desperation of the 1960s hangover that was the early '70s. That may not be intentional: "Fire and Rain" was about the suicide of a fellow inmate of Taylor's at a mental institution, not the national malaise. But Taylor's sense of wounded hopelessness -- "I'm all in pieces, you can have your own choice," he sings in "Country Road" -- struck a chord with music fans, especially because of its attractive mixture of folk, country, gospel, and blues elements, all of them carefully understated and distanced. Taylor didn't break your heart; he understood that it was already broken, as was his own, and he offered comfort. As a result, Sweet Baby James sold millions of copies, spawned a Top Ten hit in "Fire and Rain" and a Top 40 hit in "Country Road," and launched not only Taylor's career as a pop superstar but also the entire singer/songwriter movement of the early '70s that included Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Jackson Browne, Cat Stevens, and others. A second legacy became clear two decades later, when country stars like Garth Brooks began to cite Taylor, with his use of steel guitar, references to Jesus, and rural and Western imagery on Sweet Baby James, as a major influence. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 20, 1997 | Columbia

James Taylor stopped pushing himself into new musical and lyrical territories in the late '70s, so it doesn't come as a great surprise that Hourglass, his first studio album in six years, doesn't offer anything new -- it's a collection of pleasant, melodic, simple songs about love, family, and social activism. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since Taylor has a gift for such material, and on Hourglass, he sounds as good as ever. The music, in many ways, has greater depth than previous records, since it features cameos from such heavy hitters as Stevie Wonder, Yo-Yo Ma, Shawn Colvin, Michael Brecker, Mark O'Connor, and Branford Marsalis. There are a few songs that fall a little flat, failing to make much of an impression one way or the other, but on the whole, Hourglass is a nice addition to his catalog. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released June 30, 1993 | Columbia

"A live James Taylor album has been suggested, demanded and contemplated for many years," writes Taylor's manager/producer, Peter Asher, in this album's liner notes, and the reasons are not hard to find. For one thing, Taylor has been a successful concert attraction for more than 20 years. For another, an artist who has scored in excess of 30 chart records (on four different labels) over those years is represented by only one, 20-year-old hits compilation. The 30-track, two-hour Live, drawn from a tour staged specifically to record it, is an attempt to address those points. Fronting a typically top-notch band, Taylor ranges across his repertoire, back to 1968 for "Something in the Way She Moves" and "Carolina in My Mind," and up to 1991 for "Copperline," among other songs drawn from New Moon Shine. In between come most of his hits. (The most notable exception is "Her Town, Too," and there is a general paucity of later recordings like "That's Why I'm Here" and "Never Die Young.") Taylor treats the material in his relaxed, assured style, making occasional ironic or self-deprecatory remarks between songs and charming his audience even more. The effect of presenting the songs in a uniform manner is to imply an equality between them, as though the deeper material was less significant and the slighter songs more substantial. But that doesn't keep the set from being a consistently enjoyable listening experience. Taylor remains sorely in need of a retrospective that would bring his work into concise coherence, but this one at least presents most of his best-known material in effective performances. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released May 5, 2008 | Columbia

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Rock - Released August 25, 2014 | Hear Music

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Pop - Released June 15, 2015 | Concord Records

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Pop - Released December 3, 2013 | Rhino - Warner Records

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James Taylor's commercial breakthrough in 1970 was predicated on the relationship between the private concerns expressed in his songs and the larger philosophical mood of his audience. He was going through depression, heartbreak, and addiction; they were recovering from the political and cultural storms of the '60s. On his follow-up to the landmark Sweet Baby James, Taylor brought his listeners up to date, wisely trying to step beyond the cultural, if not the personal, markers he had established. Despite affirming romance in songs like "Love Has Brought Me Around" and the moving "You Can Close Your Eyes" as well as companionship in "You've Got a Friend," the record still came as a defense against the world, not an embrace of it; Taylor was unable to forget the past or trust the present. The songs were full of references to the road and the highway, and he was uncomfortable with his new role as spokesman. The confessional songwriter was now, necessarily, writing about what it was like to be a confessional songwriter: Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon served the valuable function of beginning to move James Taylor away from the genre he had defined, which ultimately would give him a more long-lasting appeal. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 1, 1975 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released April 1, 1971 | Rhino - Warner Records

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JT

Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 1983 | Columbia

On his last couple of Warner Bros albums, Gorilla and In the Pocket, James Taylor seemed to be converting himself from the shrinking violet, too-sensitive-to-live "rainy day man" of his early records into a mainstream, easy listening crooner with a sunny outlook. JT, his debut album for Columbia, was something of a defense of this conversion. Returning to the autobiographical, Taylor declared his love for Carly Simon ("There We Are"), but expressed some surprise at his domestic bliss. "Isn't it amazing a man like me can feel this way?" he sang in the opening song, "Your Smiling Face" (a Top 40 hit). At the same time, domesticity could have its temporary depressions ("Another Grey Morning"). The key track was "Secret O' Life," which Taylor revealed as "enjoying the passage of time." Working with his long-time backup band of Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, and Russell Kunkel, and with Peter Asher back in the producer's chair, Taylor also enjoyed mixing his patented acoustic guitar-based folk sound with elements of rock, blues, and country. He even made the country charts briefly with "Bartender's Blues," a genre exercise complete with steel guitar and references to "honky tonk angels" that he would later re-record with George Jones. The album's Top Ten hit was Taylor's winning remake of Jimmy Jones' "Handy Man," which replaced the grit of the original with his characteristic warmth. JT was James Taylor's best album since Mud Slide Slim & the Blue Horizon because it acknowledged the darkness of his earlier work while explaining the deliberate lightness of his current viewpoint, and because it was his most consistent collection in years. Fans responded: JT sold better than any Taylor album since Sweet Baby James. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | EMI Catalogue

James Taylor was the first artist to be signed to record on the Beatles' short-lived vanity Apple label. In late 1968, Taylor's sophisticated self-titled disc foreshadowed the introspective singer/songwriter genre that dominated pop music in the early and mid-'70s. Although often touted as his debut, this release is chronologically Taylor's second studio outing. James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine -- an EP recorded a year earlier -- contains rudimentary versions of much of the same original material found here. The album is presented with two distinct sides. The first, in essence, presents a unified multi-song suite incorporating several distinctly Baroque-flavored links connecting the larger compositions. The second is a more traditional collection of individual tunes. This unique juxtaposition highlights Taylor's highly personal and worldly lyrics within a multidimensional layer of surreal and otherwise ethereal instrumentation. According to Taylor, much of the album's subject matter draws upon personal experience. This is a doubled-edged blessing because the emphasis placed on the pseudo-blues "Knocking 'Round the Zoo" and the numerous other references made to Taylor's brief sojourn in a mental institution actually do a disservice to the absolutely breathtaking beauty inherent in every composition. Several pieces debuted on this release would eventually be reworked by Taylor several years later. Among the notable inclusions are "Rainy Day Man," "Night Owl," "Something in the Way She Moves," and "Carolina in My Mind." Musically, Taylor's decidedly acoustic-based tunes are augmented by several familiar names. Among them are former King Bees member Joel "Bishop" O'Brien (drums) -- who had joined Taylor and Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar in the Original Flying Machine -- as well as Paul McCartney (bass), who lends support to the seminal version of "Carolina in My Mind." The album's complex production efforts fell to Peter Asher -- formerly of Peter and Gordon and concurrent head of Apple Records A&R department. The absolute conviction that runs throughout this music takes the listener into its confidence and with equal measures of wit, candor, and sophistication, James Taylor created a minor masterpiece that is sadly eclipsed by his later more popular works. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 6, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

Gorilla served notice to anyone expecting James Taylor to continue on in the personal, confessional vein of his first few albums that he did not intend to do so. Recording in Burbank with Warners staff producers Lenny Waronker and Russ Titelman, Taylor used a stellar backup band augmented by such guests as Graham Nash and David Crosby (who harmonized on the chart single "Mexico"), his wife Carly Simon, mandolinist David Grisman, saxophone player David Sanborn, Randy Newman on "hornorgan," and Little Feat slide guitarist Lowell George. This team worked on a set of light, pleasant songs that bordered on the generic -- one was called "Music," another "Love Songs" -- but were performed and sung with taste and care. Taylor was relentlessly upbeat; even "Angry Blues," which confessed, "I can't help it if I don't feel so good," didn't sound like things were that bad. But then, these songs didn't seem to be about Taylor, or if they were, as in the extended metaphor of the title track, the connection was so oblique that it was hard to say what the point was. Still, one could glide on Taylor's easy vocals and the band's competence, and Gorilla was an enjoyable listening experience. "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)," the first of a series of bleached R&B covers, became a Top Ten hit, and the album restored Taylor's commercial fortunes, setting him on the steady path he would follow for decades after. But who would have thought only a few years before that the king of the confessional song poets would turn into such a lightweight? © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released August 31, 1991 | Columbia

James Taylor produced a typical collection of familiar-sounding songs on New Moon Shine, his concerns ranging from romance to the life of the working man to political issues like war and civil rights on which he took the expected liberal positions. The album was written, played, and sung with typical craft and care, and was a worthy addition to Taylor's catalog. Taylor's reliability means that his records do not disappoint his faithful audience, but neither do they provide any revelations. New Moon Shine provided four Adult Contemporary chart entries in "Copperline," "(I've Got To) Stop Thinkin' 'Bout That," a cover of Sam Cooke's "Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha," and "Like Everyone She Knows," and the album went gold, staying in the charts more than nine months, a good showing for a record that essentially repeated previous efforts. (New Moon Shine was eventually certified platinum.) © William Ruhlmann /TiVo