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Thread: James Taylor "Covers"

  1. #1

    Cool James Taylor "Covers"

    James Taylor

    3.5 out of 5 stars
    Reviewed for Coffeerooms by Mike Jefferson

    If you enjoyed James Taylor's version of Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," then you'll find his latest CD, "Covers," irresistible. JT takes 12 classic and obscure rock gems written by Jimmy Webb, Smokey Robinson, Buddy Holly and others, giving them a sunny, pleasurable gloss.

    Taylor has a successful track record for refashioning tunes. In 1974 he and then wife Carly Simon turned "Mockingbird" into a playful give and take that outstripped the original hit by Inez and Charlie Foxx. His other covers have run the gamut of styles from traditional tunes (Stephen Foster's "Oh Susannah" on his iconic "Sweet Baby James" album), to successful ("How Sweet It Is," Carole King's "Up On the Roof" and a remake of Jimmy Jones' "Handy Man"), to taking a song and making it his own (King's "You've Got a Friend"). They've also fallen into the realm of "Gee willickers, James, that was a mistake," (for example, his stumbling version of the Beatles' "Day Tripper" on "Flag").Taylor has an obvious appreciation of R & B, although I can't imagine why a man who shook the music world as an expressive folk balladeer fancies himself the next Marvin Gaye.

    Taylor writes in the album's liner notes that he and the dozen musicians featured on "Covers" spent 12 days together in a converted barn in Massachusetts recording in a live setting. You can tell. A collaborative, celebratory air permeates the album: "You get an immediate energy and it's a whole lot of fun," Taylor says. "It sweeps you up and it carries you along and when it's done, it's done." It's a simplistic, but accurate explanation. Taylor's voice sucks you in. The songs, embellished with soft strings, naughty (but not nasty) horns and respectful rhythms tap into your enthusiasm, but won't rock your rheumatism.

    "Covers" opens with "It's Growing," a relatively obscure Temptations song. If I was going to pick a Temptations tune to cover, this wouldn't even make the list. It was one of lead singer David Ruffin's lesser-light performances, subtle, charming, and a bit blasť, that didn't take advantage of Ruff's electrifying presence. And maybe that's one of the reasons Taylor singled it out. Taking on one of Ruffin's lesser lights isn't as formidable a task as trying to top the untoppable, like Ruffin's raw grit in "All I Need," or his emotionally draining performance in "I Wish It Would Rain." In Taylor's hands, "It's Growing" bops more, like his own casual composition, "That's Why I'm Here." The horns pop happily, as the back up singers take a prominent role trading vocals with Taylor. "It's Growing" shows Taylor's voice is still an amazing instrument unto itself; Sweet Baby James' tonsils have barely aged in the forty years since his debut album.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2000

    Post Re: James Taylor "Covers"

    I got this CD for my birthday and I absolutely love it.


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