Tuesday, January 30, 2007

James Taylor - At Christmas

Several weeks ago, my friend Mason lent me his DVD of Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival to peruse.

This amazing DVD has some of the finest guitar players assembled in one sitting. Name 'em and they were there: Carlos Santana, Steve Vai, Joe Walsh, and B.B. King.

Want more? How about Robert Cray, a young-up-and-comer named Robert Randolph (a mean pedal steel guitarist who I hope and pray will record a Christmas album one day!), ZZ Top, Buddy Guy, David Hidalgo (from Los Lobos), Jimmie Vaughn, and James Taylor.

JAMES TAYLOR? Doesn't quite fit, huh?

Two things you should know about this CD: 1.) this was one of my final purchases of the 2006 holiday season. 2.) I reviewed this at FaLaLaLaLa.com last December.

To quote:

"I've never been a big fan of James Taylor. However, I slipped this into my stack of CDs while checking out at Best Buy the way a man would try to hide a Playboy magazine among Newsweek and Time.

"After listening to this album, I have to say I have a new found respect for Taylor. His mix of traditional Christmas songs done in totally opposite styles (traditional, acoustic, gospel, folk) make you stop and listen.

"With some help from Toots Thieleman and Natalie Cole, Taylor has made an enjoyable album not just for the aging baby boomers but for Christmas music fans as well.

"It's not the first Christmas album I would grab but I'll add it to the mix now and then!"

One detail should be noted: after his long running contract with Columbia/Sony Records wasn't renewed, he released first Christmas CD - "James Taylor: A Christmas Album" - with distribution through Hallmark Cards in 2004. Columbia/Sony reworked and released this album late last year as "James Taylor At Christmas".

So what are the differences? "Deck The Halls" was on the 2004 album and was replaced on the 2006 album with "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and a cover of Joni Mitchell's "River". Lose one track, gain two others. Hardly even exciting stuff.

There's other stuff I can add in:
  • Taylor was one of the first artists signed to the Beatles' Apple Records in 1968
  • Nearly died from his heroin addiction in the early 1970s
  • His 1976 "Greatest Hits" album has sold around 11 million copies
  • He was married to Carly Simon and could be the person Simon sings about in "You're So Vain"
  • Inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame in 2000
  • Ranked #84 in Rolling Stone's Top 100 Rock Artists of All Time in 2004

However, I'll stand on what I said in my FLLLL review. If I stay longer, I might start ranting and it's not really fair to James Taylor - we've never met and he's never said a bad thing about me so...

UP NEXT: Break out the flannel shirts and ten gallon hats - we goin' country next!


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