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Blues - Released August 17, 2012 | Columbia - Legacy

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Blues - Released May 5, 2017 | Concord Records

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If a decade separates Henry Saint Clair Fredericks alias Taj Mahal from Kevin Roosevelt Moore alias Keb' Mo', blues is the common thread that joins the lives of these two great musicians. But this blues is anything but monolithic, taking nourishment from soul as well as from rock'n'roll and world music. Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo' have united for the first time under the banner of TajMo to bring out this record. Mixing covers and original compositions and bringing in Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, Sheila E. and Lizz Wright, the album offers two styles that mix together to give birth to a music striking the perfect balance between tradition and innovation. Here the soul is festive (That’s Who I Am), there the blues is pared-down (Diving Duck Blues) and a little further off there are Cajun flavours too (Squeeze Box). But it is the collaboration between the two men that makes TajMo really exhilarating. © CM/Qobuz
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Reggae - Released July 16, 2005 | Columbia - Legacy

The Essential Taj Mahal pulls together the bluesman's Columbia, Warner, Gramavision Private Music, and Hannibal labels' recordings, making it the first truly cross-licensed compilation of his work. Given the depth and breadth of this set (it covers four decades), the listener gets not only a cross-sectional view of the artist, but also his innovative and idiosyncratic journey through the blues: Mahal has not only kept the tradition alive, he's expanded it and deepened it, tracing its roots and developments through the course of American, Caribbean, and African cultures. While there is no unreleased material here, there doesn't need to be. The sheer adventure in these recordings reveals the wealth of the contribution Mahal has made not only to the blues, but to popular culture both present and past. This is a comp to own, to be moved by, and to ultimately enjoy. Columbia issued a three-CD set earlier, but there were things there that needed to be trimmed. This leaner and meaner version is superior. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1969 | Columbia

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In less than 24 months, Taj Mahal (guitars/vocals/banjo/harmonica) had issued the equivalent of four respective long-players. The electric Giant Step (1968) was released alongside the acoustic and decidedly rural De Ole Folks at Home (1968). The nine cuts on Giant Step feature support from the instrumental trio of Jesse Ed Davis (guitar/keyboards), Gary Gilmore (bass), and Chuck Blackwell (drums). They back Taj Mahal on a wide selection of covers ranging from Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Take a Giant Step" to the upbeat and soulful reading of the Huddie Ledbetter blues staple "Keep Your Hands Off Her." The arrangements are unique and offer the artist's distinctive approach. Nowhere is this more evident than the practically jovial midtempo "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" or the freewheeling abandon brought to the 18-wheeler anthem "Six Days on the Road"." Similarly, it recalls the version of "Ain't That a Lot of Love" from Taj Mahal's preceding LP Natch'l Blues (1968). Additionally, Blind Willie Johnson's "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" stands out with a strong and soaring gospel-flavored arrangement. The project concludes with "Bacon Fat," a number attributed here via Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson of the Band. That said, it may be better-known from the man they called Mr. Rhythm, Andre Williams, whose scattered down-home spoken interludes punctuate his February 1957 Top Ten R&B hit -- which incidentally was created under the working title "Diddle, Diddle Womp, Womp." Parties searching for an apt introduction when discovering Taj Mahal's voluminous catalog are encouraged to consider Giant Step as a highly recommended reference point. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 10, 1999 | Columbia - Legacy

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Taj Mahal's debut album was a startling statement in its time and has held up remarkably well. Recorded in August of 1967, it was as hard and exciting a mix of old and new blues sounds as surfaced on record in a year when even a lot of veteran blues artists (mostly at the insistence of their record labels) started turning toward psychedelia. The guitar virtuosity, embodied in Taj Mahal's slide work (which had the subtlety of a classical performance), Jesse Ed Davis's lead playing, and rhythm work by Ry Cooder and Bill Boatman, is of the neatly stripped-down variety that was alien to most records aiming for popular appeal, and the singer himself approached the music with a startling mix of authenticity and youthful enthusiasm. The whole record is a strange and compelling amalgam of stylistic and technical achievements -- filled with blues influences of the 1930s and 1940s, but also making use of stereo sound separation and the best recording technology. The result was numbers like Sleepy John Estes' "Diving Duck Blues," with textures resembling the mix on the early Cream albums, while "The Celebrated Walkin' Blues" (even with Cooder's animated mandolin weaving its spell on one side of the stereo mix) has the sound of a late '40s Chess release by Muddy Waters. Blind Willie McTell ("Statesboro Blues") and Robert Johnson ("Dust My Broom") are also represented, in what had to be one of the most quietly, defiantly iconoclastic records of 1968. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Blues - Released June 1, 1997 | Private Music

Señor Blues is one of Taj Mahal's best latter-day albums, a rollicking journey through classic blues styles performed with contemporary energy and flair. There's everything from country-blues to jazzy uptown blues on Señor Blues, and Taj hits all of areas in between, including R&B and soul. Stylistically, it's similar to most of his albums, but he's rarely been as effortlessly fun and infectious as he is here. © Thom Owens /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 10, 1999 | Columbia - Legacy

Taj Mahal's second album, recorded in the spring and fall of 1968, opens with more stripped-down Delta-style blues in the manner of his debut, but adds a little more amplification (partly courtesy of Al Kooper on organ) before moving into wholly bigger sound on numbers like "She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride" and "The Cuckoo" -- the latter, in particular, features crunchy electric and acoustic guitars and Gary Gilmore playing his bass almost like a lead instrument, like a bluesman's answer to John Entwistle. Most notable, however, may be "You Don't Miss Your Water ('Til Your Well Runs Dry)" and "Ain't That a Lot of Love," which offer Taj Mahal working in the realm of soul and treading onto Otis Redding territory. This is particularly notable on "You Don't Miss Your Water," which achieves the intensity of a gospel performance and comes complete with a Stax/Volt-style horn arrangement by Jesse Ed Davis that sounds more like the real thing than the real thing. "Ain't That a Lot of Love," by contrast, is driven by a hard electric guitar sound and a relentless bass part that sounds like a more urgent version of the bassline from the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'." © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 2, 1999 | Chrysalis Records

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Blues - Released September 29, 2008 | Heads Up

The list of special guests who appear on Taj Mahal's Maestro is hardly what one would expect from a veteran bluesman. Among the special guests are Ziggy Marley, Los Lobos, Ben Harper, and African pop vocalist Angélique Kidjo -- not exactly a conventional blues lineup. But then, Mahal is hardly a conventional blues artist. He has been providing eclectic, far-reaching albums for a long time, and that spirit of adventure is alive and well on this 2008 release (which marks his 40th year as a recording artist -- Mahal provided his first album in 1968). No one expects Mahal's albums to be the work of a blues purist; in fact, Mahal (who plays guitar, harmonica, banjo, and ukulele on Maestro) is the opposite of a blues purist. While Maestro has its share of electric blues, the veteran singer also gets into everything from soul ("Further on Down the Road") and early R&B (Fats Domino's "Hello Josephine") to reggae ("Black Man, Brown Man," "Never Let You Go") and African pop ("Zanzibar"). The latter features Kidjo on lead vocals and Toumani Diabaté on the kora (a traditional African instrument), while Los Lobos appear on "Never Let You Go" and the humorous "TV Mama" (which is among the disc's straight-ahead blues offerings). Mahal, true to form, is all over the place stylistically on this 57-minute CD -- and yet, Maestro never sounds the least bit unfocused. Being eclectic comes naturally to Mahal, who sees to it that Maestro is a consistently engaging celebration of his 40th year as a recording artist. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Blues - Released February 8, 1996 | Private Music

An eclectic bluesman would seem to be a contradiction in terms, but Taj Mahal, who has moved through the worlds of folk, rock, and pop to reach his present categorization, fits the description, and here he takes several pop and R&B oldies that came from blues roots -- "Ooh Poo Pah Doo," "Lonely Avenue," "What Am I Living For?," "Let the Four Winds Blow" -- and returns them to those roots. He also calls in such guest stars as Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt, who have more than a nodding acquaintance with the blues, to assist him. The result is progressive blues hybrid that treats the music not as a source, but as a destination. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Blues - Released October 1, 1994 | Tradition & Moderne

If you've ever caught Taj live solo, this recording, cut during an appearance in Germany, is what you've been waiting for. His sublime performances of "Satisfied and Tickled Too" and "Candy Man" are out of this world. While the inclusion of tuba on a few tracks does prove somewhat annoying, for the most part this is an excellent example of what makes Taj a treasure. © Tim Sheridan /TiVo
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Blues - Released December 5, 1990 | Columbia - Legacy

Columbia/Legacy's 2000 collection The Best of Taj Mahal is a first-rate overview of Taj Mahal's classic late-'60s/early-'70s work for Columbia. Spanning 17 tracks, including a previously unreleased cut "Sweet Mama Janisse" from 1970, this hits many of the key points from the records he released between 1967 and 1974, including "Statesboro Blues," "Leaving Trunk,' "She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride," and "Fishin Blues." Although his albums were constructed and worked as actual albums, this does an excellent job of summarizing these thematic affairs and functions as a nice introduction to Mahal's music. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released August 21, 2012 | Columbia - Legacy

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In celebration of his 70th birthday, The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal 1969-1973 is the first of a series of volumes issued by Legacy that will eventually encompass his entire Columbia catalog. Hidden Treasures consists of a studio disc and a live one. The studio set contains a dozen tracks that were rejected from the final versions of Mahal's albums for various reasons, as well as alternate takes. All tracks are unreleased. The quality of the material can be slightly uneven, but that's to be expected (being rejects after all). That said, disc one is not without sufficient charm, and even revelatory moments. Its first four tracks feature Mahal and guitarist Jesse Ed Davis in the company of Jim Dickinson's Dixie Flyers. "Chainey Do" and the first of the two alternate takes of "Sweet Mama Janisse" are excellent showcases for Davis in the company of a stellar garage band. Other standouts on disc one include "You Ain't No Street Walker Mama, Honey But I Do Love the Way You Strut Your Stuff," with its studio intro where Mahal instructs the band on how to make it cook. And it does. The band includes a five-piece horn section that stars tuba masters Bob Stewart and Howard Johnson. Mahal's banjo playing works beautifully in the extended jam on "Shady Groove." "Butter" closes the disc and features Mahal fronting the band on harmonica, playing a sweet, instrumental version of "People Get Ready." Disc two, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970, is worth the purchase price alone. Mahal plays his National Steel guitar and harmonica, and is backed by a band with the late, great Davis on lead guitar. This set reveals Mahal as a musical shaman early on. He was even then able to skip across centuries, traditions, forms, and singing, telling tales and jokes without hesitation or faltering. He fully inhabits each musical persona he takes on as his own, yet they are all part of a single but multi-limbed lineage in his musicology. The disc is by turns rousing, rocking, and intimate. Whether it's in the a cappella take on the traditional "Runnin' by the Riverside," a cover of the Band's "Bacon Fat," the funky, gritty, original blues of "Big Fat" and "Sweet Mama Janisse," or the definitive version of "Tomorrow May Not Be Your Day," this is all-killer, no-filler. Fans of Mahal's -- especially of his Columbia period -- will greet The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal 1969-1973 with cheers. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Blues - Released December 1, 1973 | Columbia - Legacy

Ooh So Good 'N' Blues, takes a more straightahead approach that, with the exception of the the jazzy mis-step titled "Teacup's Jazzy Blues Tune," keeps the experimentation down to a minimum. As a result, this is one of his most consistently enjoyable and even albums. © All Music Guide /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 11, 1999 | Columbia - Legacy

Taj Mahal followed up Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home (1969) with another double-LP concert platter whose title pretty much sums up the contents. The Real Thing (1971) is drawn from a mid-February run of shows at the Fillmore East in New York City where he, Spencer Davis, the Chambers Brothers, and Roberta Flack, among others, shared the bill. Mahal is supported by an interesting extended aggregate with a brass section consisting of Joseph Daley (tuba/horn/trombone), Bob Stewart (horn), and a pair of former Charles Mingus bandmembers, Earl McIntyre (horn) and Howard Johnson (horn). While at times they tend to overpower the usually intimate nature of the performances, that is certainly not the case for the majority of the arrangements. The opener, "Fishin' Blues," is a solo with Mahal accompanying himself on banjo. "Ain't Gwine to Whistle Dixie (Any Mo')" is significantly lengthened from the form found on Giant Step (1968) as it stretches nearly nine minutes and allows plenty of room for interaction, offering up a spirited fife interlude from Mahal. In addition to providing an overview from his back catalog, The Real Thing contains a few new compositions. The full ensemble gets a workout on the funky "Sweet Mama Janisse" and the toe-tappin' rural flavor of the instrumental "Tom and Sally Drake" is lightly augmented by a sole tuba -- presumably that of Johnson. Sleepy John Estes' "Diving Duck Blues" arguably submits the most successful incorporation of brass, sporting a driving, full-throttle rhythm and soulful interpretation. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Blues - Released May 5, 2017 | Concord Records

Keb' Mo' and Taj Mahal have been friends and colleagues for years but 2017's TajMo is the first time the pair have recorded an album. It also marks the first time Taj Mahal has entered a studio since 2008 -- Keb' Mo' last released an album in 2014 -- and if this seems like it should be a momentous occasion, what's striking about TajMo is how casual the whole affair is. The duo designed TajMo to be an upbeat, life-affirming listen, something that emphasizes how the blues can also offer a good time. If the album can occasionally seem a little too crisp and polished -- it's bright and shiny without a hint of grit -- it's also true that this reflects the lightness at the heart of TajMo. Sometimes it gets so light it's almost glib -- witness the cover of the Who's "Squeeze Box" -- but Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo' are also determined to broaden the scope of the blues, adding Soweto rhythms to "Soul," cutting a version of John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change," even making concessions to pop on the ebullient "All Around the World." Maybe it's not a major record but its mellowness is charming, and the two bluesmen play off each other like the longtime friends they are, which is an endearing thing to hear. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1972 | Columbia - Legacy

The title Recycling the Blues & Other Related Stuff certainly sums up the album quite well -- that's exactly what Taj Mahal has been doing for several years by this point. The first side features laidback in-the-studio work with some nice gospel-inflected back-up from the Pointer Sisters. The second (and preferable) side offers a good look at Mahal's stage show. © All Music Guide /TiVo
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Blues - Released September 1, 2003 | Private Music - BMG Heritage

Throughout his career, Taj Mahal has always been considered a bluesman, which is true enough, since the basis for everything he does has been the country blues, but he is not a traditionalist at heart, and he has always looked for ways to push the blues into new places and shapes. Adding at times rhythms and sensibilities that are drawn from reggae, ragtime, calypso, zydeco, and other genres, Mahal practices a kind of blues hybrid that is his alone, and he has been a huge influence on newer artists like Chris Thomas King and Corey Harris. This collection derives from the five albums he recorded with Private Records during the 1990s, and overlaps somewhat with The Best of the Private Years, released in 2000. Highlights include his version of Doc Pomus' "Lonely Avenue," a bebop blues take on Horace Silver's "Señor Blues," and an atmospheric reading of Goffin & King's "Take a Giant Step." Among the most interesting tracks here are the ones penned by Taj Mahal himself ("Mailbox Blues," "Cakewalk into Town," "New Hula Blues"), each of which demonstrates aptly the singer's melting-pot approach to the blues. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 16, 1992 | Columbia

Mo' Roots finds Mahal stepping away from the blues, choosing instead to focus on reggae. While he can often be faulted for his all-too-academic approach, with Mo' Roots he turns in an album that truly expresses his appreciation and connection with the music. © All Music Guide /TiVo
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Blues - Released September 14, 1993 | Private Music

Taj Mahal has always been a more inclusive, eclectic musician than even some admirers understand; his work was never simply or totally blues, even though that strain was at the center and seldom far from anything he performed either. That's the case with this newest collection, a 12-song set that includes splendid covers of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf tunes, but also equally respectful, striking renditions of soul standards such as "Mockingbird," with special guest Etta James, and "That's How Strong My Love Is." There are also strong Mahal originals like "Blues Ain't Nothin'" and "Strut," with Mahal singing and playing in his wry, delicate, yet forceful way. © Ron Wynn /TiVo