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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A box full of treasues, 24 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Complete Taj Mahal On Columbia Records (Audio CD)
15CDs, and all presented in original artwork mini cardboard sleeves (including the gate-folds). The actual box itself is sturdy enough and includes a 32 page booklet that covers all the relevant information about the music on all the discs.

Disc 1 -
The Rising Sons featuring Ry Cooder

Recorded in 1964, this lengthy 22 track CD contains some very worthwhile tracks in an early Pop style, some clearly influenced by The Beatles. Odd to hear these Pop recordings mixed in with the early Blues tracks. The other members of the band were Jesse Lee Kincaid, Gary Marker & Kevin Kelley (drums).

Following on from Disc 1 there is a wonderful run of essential and delightful (Blues/Roots based) albums.

Disc 2 -
Taj Mahal (self titled)
Musicians include Ry Cooder (mandolin & guitar) & Jesse Ed Davis (lead guitar).

Disc 3 -
The Natch'l Blues
This is the only CD in the Box with bonus/additional tracks.
The group is supplemented with Al Kooper on piano.

Disc 4 & 5 -
Giant Step/De Ole Folks At Home
Two very different sounding albums that were released at the same time (on double LP, later on double CD). The first record 'Giant Step' is a classic, and probably a great introduction to what Taj Mahal is about because it's full to the brim with wonderful tracks that range in style from Blues & Country Rock through Gospel & Soul. The record features Taj Mahal (vocals, harmonica, banjo & Mississippi national steel-bodied guitar), Jesse Ed Davis (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano & organ), Gary Gilmore (electric bass) & Chuck Blackwell (drums). 'De Ole Folks At Home' is completely different sounding record. It's acoustic rural blues all the way with Taj Mahal on his own on vocals, harmonica, guitar, banjo & jive. I love everything on both these albums except for one short track on 'De Ole Folks At Home' that I could happily do without.

Disc 6 -
The Real Thing (Live at The Fillmore East)
This is the first time on CD that all the music on the original double LP edition has been issued. This album has some very memorable Tuba playing while John Simon is featured tinkling the ivories

Disc 7 -
Happy Just To Be Like I Am

Disc 8 -
Recycling The Blues And Other Related Stuff
Essential live & studio recordings, mainly solo, featuring back up vocals from the Pointer Sisters on a couple of tracks.

Disc 9 -
"Sounder" (Original Soundtrack Recording)
Another solo album. This is a much more enjoyable rural blues sounding record than I initially thought. It is sprinkled with plenty of tasty banjo playing. The record is also notable for the inclusion of Sam Lightnin' Hopkins absolutely essential 'Needed Time' which opens proceedings. The original LP was released in 1972 and is without doubt the most obscure disc in this box, plus it's the only CD here on the Columbia Masterworks label. Amazingly the price of this as a stand alone CD would cost you more than the entire box!

Disc 10 -
Oooh So Good 'N Blues
This continues the consecutive run of wonderful addictive Blues based recordings. Apart from three tracks featuring the Pointer Sisters on vocal back up, and one featuring Raphael Grinage on upright bass, it's another Taj solo.

Disc 11 -
Mo Roots
A Jamaican influenced recording that features The Wailers Aston 'Family Man' Barrett (on ska piano). Family Man is also given remixing credits (along with Bob Marley) on Taj Mahal's outstanding version of Bob Marley's Wailers classic 'Slave Driver'. Other Reggae songs covered here are The Slickers 'Johnny Too Bad' & Bob Andy's 'Desperate Lover'. Merle Saunders (organ) features on two tracks.

Disc 12 -
Music Keeps Me Together
This is another hard to find album I have always rated very highly, with it's inventive blend of Roots, Blues, Jazz & Soul vibes, and it's another title that further convinced me I just had to get hold of this collection.

Disc 13 -
Satisfied 'N Tickled Too
The title track on this final album for Columbia is very memorable. The overall sound is more soul based than any of the previous albums. This is not a bad album, but the general change of style is notable. It marked the end of what was a very enjoyable run of mainly Blues based albums, as well as being his final official release on Columbia Records.

Disc 14 -
The Hidden Treasures Of Taj Mahal (1969-1973)
A retrospective compilation of more fine, earlier period Blues music on a double disc. The first record is a compilation of previously unreleased tracks, and there are some very essential ones included. Mixed in with these we are treated to a number of very interesting alternate takes of previously released recordings. It's interesting that Columbia decided to have all these tracks compiled this way rather than as 'bonus' tracks tagged onto original albums.

Disc 15 -
Live At The Royal Albert Hall April 18, 1970
The second Hidden Treasure disc is a live recording of Taj solo, followed by Taj with his band. The music is all wonderful, but is slightly marred by some concert hall echo picked up by the mics. This minor issue can be easily rectified by turning the volume up (or down!) a bit more usual.

The box set was produced by Jerry Rappaport & mastered by Mark Wilder & Vic Anesini. With the exception of the Royal Albert Hall echo all discs sound as good as you could wish them to be.

Not having any of these albums previously on CD has given me much better value for money and more musical listening pleasure than I expected.

I thoroughly recommend this box to anyone interested in any of Taj Mahal's Columbia recordings, or anyone curious enough about them to go as far as checking the reviews.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Modern Blues; LOve This Box, 30 May 2014
Cornish Deadhead "Happy Harv" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Complete Taj Mahal On Columbia Records (Audio CD)
Jackie P has already written a comprehensive review, but I wanted to sing the praises of this box as well!

I came across this modern bluesman in the 60s when I purchased Taj Mahal on vinyl (which I still have!), and he soon had quite a high profile, even being featured in the Stones Rock 'n' Roll Circus and Fillmore - The Last Days.

Taj Mahal has always drawn heavily on the blues tradition whilst injecting a new edge in my opinion. This box goes back to the early 60s with Rising Sons (what a find) featuring a young Ry Cooder as well. You also get some harder to find albums in this 15 CD set.

Packaging is cardboard slip cases in a cardboard clamshell box - great with gatefolds imitating the vinyl where appropriate. If you keep an eye on this box, you might pick up a bargain as I managed to get mine when the price was dropped to thirty three pounds for 24 hours! But even at the normal price, this is a worthwhile/worthy investment if you are looking to collect this guy in the digital format.
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The Complete Taj Mahal On Columbia Records
The Complete Taj Mahal On Columbia Records by Taj Mahal (Audio CD - 2013)
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