Saturday, September 18, 2010

James Taylor (album)

In 1968 Peter Asher (ex. Peter & Gordon), who was employed as the A&R (artist & repertoire) Director of the Beatles’ owned Apple Records label, received some demo tapes of a young James Taylor who was living in London at the time. Asher played the tapes for Paul McCartney and they both agreed to sign Taylor as the first American artist to the new Apple Record label.

Recorded in 1968, the self-titled album was the fourth album release on the label and was the only one to date that wasn’t a Beatles’ group or solo recording. It was preceded by George Harrison’s “Wonderwall Music”, “The Beatles” also known as “the White Album,” and John & Yoko’s “Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins.”

Something in the Way She Moves

I bought my copy used at a flea market in North Versailles, PA in 1971. Although not the first release to do so, Taylor’s LP linked the songs together. This provides continuity in listening, but is a disc jockey’s nightmare. One of my favorite songs on the LP and one that Taylor would re-record for Warner Brothers is “Something in the Way She Moves.” The opening line was a springboard of inspiration for George Harrison to write “Something,” which borrows the first line of Taylor’s song.

Carolina in My Mind

The LP’s one single “Carolina in My Mind” was issued twice in the US. The song was the seventh single on the Apple label and initially charted at #118 in 1969. The song featured Beatles Paul McCartney on bass and backing vocals and George Harrison on backing vocals. Taylor and Asher also provided additional background vocal tracks.

It was re-released in 1970 to capitalize on the success of Taylor’s second LP and first for Warner Brothers – “Sweet Baby James” and its hit single “Fire and Rain.” The tactic worked to some degree as the song charted the second time at #67; however, despite an increase in sales, its sales performance would not put it in the category of being a hit record. Like with “Something in the Way She Moves,” Warners had Taylor re-record the song for his 1976 greatest hits album.

Greensleeves & Something’s Wrong

This recording is more indicative of Taylor’s later recordings. Richard Hewson who provided the string arrangements to the album personally played the oboe and bassoon on this song. Personally, I believe the use of the double reeds accentuates the entire arrangement.

Rainy Day Man

Co-written with Zach Weisner, this song was originally recorded by James Taylor’s band The Flying Machine in 1966. The cover, which is surprisingly close to the Flying Machine’s version, predated the original’s release which did not occur until 1971. Euphoria Records released this collection of old records once Taylor’s reputation as artist was on solid footing.

Although the first James Taylor album is not nearly as well known as some of his subsequent albums, it is worth having in your collection. It is available on CD, having been the second CD release from the reconstituted Apple Records in 1991.

No comments:

Post a Comment