Customer Review

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Have You Ever Been On The Outside...", 29 Jan 2012
This review is from: Original Album Classics (Audio CD)
Released 24 January 2011 (1 Feb 2011 USA) - this 3CD mini box set is part of Sony/Legacy's hugely successful and popular "Original Album Classics" series. It contains the following 3 albums in 5" card repro sleeves with original American artwork on the front and rear...

Disc 1 is "Taj Mahal" - his 1968 debut LP (Stereo Version) on Columbia CS 9579 in the USA and Direction S 8-63279 in the UK (33:00 minutes)

Disc 2 is "The Natch'l Blues" - his 2nd LP from February 1969 LP on Columbia CS 9698 in the USA and Direction S 8-63397 in the UK (49:03 minutes)
Note tracks 10, 11 and 12 are Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks which first appeared on the 2000 CD reissue

Disc 3 is "Mo' Roots" - 1974 LP on Columbia KC 33051 in the USA and CBS S 80346 in the UK (33:43 minutes)

At first glance - this release seems like a steal at just under seven quid (nine bucks) - but there's 'both' really good and really bad on here. Let's get to the good first...

The debut album is the stuff of Blues-Rock legend - an absolute gem. The band consists of guitarists Ry Cooder (credited as Ryland P Cooder) and Jesse Edwin Davis with veterans James Thomas on Bass and Charles Blackwell on Drums. Taj sang all the tunes and mainly stuck to harp playing except on the brilliant 8-minutes of "The Celebrated Walkin' Blues" where he puts in some great slide-guitar work. Niggles - the original album was also issued in MONO - and as you can see from the playing time provided above - it could easily have been fit on here as a first - but alas. I would also love to one day see a LEGACY DOUBLE DELUXE of this fantastic debut - there must be some outakes in storage somewhere - and live sets with that stellar band...

The follow up "The Natch'l Blues" was more of the same up-tempo boogie (and his first LP to chart in the USA). Again it featured Jesse Edwin Davis (had his own albums on Atco by now) but also brought in Al Kooper on Piano. Produced by Bruce Robinson, the record featured great funky blues rhythms like "Going Up To The Country, Paint My Mailbox Blue" - sounding not unlike Shuggie Otis on his wonderful debut "Here Comes..." (see separate review for that 3CD box set). The 3 bonus tracks are shockingly good too - especially the Fleetwood Mac 1st album feel to "New Stranger Blues" (lyrics above).

Both album one and two were remastered before for the 'Rewind' series and sound great - really full of life and presence.

But the side is let down badly by the "Mo' Roots" set - a real dog and wildly out of place here. It was also badly produced for 1974 - very dull and lifeless sounding - and I'm afraid this supposed remaster has done nothing for it. Tracks like "Slave Driver" with its cod-reggae rhythms sounds like poor man's Bob Marley and The Wailers. A better inclusion would have been the 1969 2LP set "Giant Step/De Ole Folks At Home" which continued on convincingly from the first two records. It's also a single CD that fitted the entire double on it - so it would have been ideal here - and made this box a must buy.

Like the Shuggie Otis, Muddy Waters and Fleetwood Mac 3CD sets in this cool little series - this box set of great Blues Rock is stunning value for money. But this Taj Mahal addition is docked a star for that turkey 3rd disc. To sum up - a good release then - but it's a damn shame Sony didn't apply some imagination here because it could have been a truly great one...

PS: 01/02/2010 saw the introduction of THREE DISC SETS in the "Original Album Classics" Series (there are 5CD sets also) and releases are ongoing.
Here is a list of the '3CD' sets to January 2012...

1. ADAM & THE ANTS (26/09/2011)
[Dirk Wears White Sox/Kings Of The Wild Frontier/Prince Charming]
2. AMERIE (01/02/2010)
(All I Have/Touch/Because I Love It)
3. ANATHEMA (26/09/2011)
[Judgement/A Fine Day To Exit/A Natural Disaster]
4. BLONDIE (26/09/2011)
[No Exit/Livid/The Curse Of Blondie]
5. COLIN BLUNSTONE (26/07/2010)
[One Year/Ennismore/Journey]
6. DAVID BOWIE (09/01/2012)
[Outside/Earthling/Hours...]
7. JOHNNY CASH (09/01/2012)
[Hello, I'm Johnny Cash/The Johnny Cash Show/Man In Black]
8. CLANNAD (24/01/2011)
[Magical Ring/Macalla/Sirius]
9. SHAWN COLVIN (08/02/2010)
[Steady On/Fat City/Cover Girl]
10. ALICE COOPER (26/09/2011)
[Trash/Hey Stoopid/The Last Temptation]
11. MILES DAVIS (26/07/2010)
[Nefertiti/Socerer/Filles De Kilimanjaro]
12. DEEP PURPLE (26/09/2011)
[Slaves And Masters/The Battle Rages On/Purpendicular]
13. DONOVAN (22/07/2010)
[Mellow Yellow/Hurdy Gurdy Man/Barabajagal]
14. BOB DYLAN (26/07/2010)
[Empire Burlesque/Down In The Groove/Under The Red Sky]
15. BOB DYLAN (09/01/2012)
[Good As I Been To You/World Gone Wrong/MTV Unplugged]
16. EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER (28/03/2011)
[Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970/Live At The Royal Albert Hall/Live In Poland]
17. AGNETHA FALTSKOG [of ABBA] (01/02/2010)
[Agnetha Faltskog/Nar En Vacker Tanke Blirsang/Elva Kvinnor I Ett Hus]
18. (PETER GREEN'S) FLEETWOOD MAC (01/02/2010)
[Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac/Mr. Wonderful/The Pious Bird of Good Omen - The Original UK Album Track Lists - No Extras]
19. ARETHA FRANKLYN (01/02/2010)
[The Electrifying/The Tender The Moving The Swinging/Soul Sister]
20. GROOVE ARMADA (26/07/2010)
[Vertigo/Goodnight Country (Hello Nightclub)/Lovebox]
21. THE JEFF HEALEY BAND (09/01/2012)
[See The Light/Hell To Pay/Feel This]
22. JAPAN (28/03/2011)
[Adolescent Sex/Obscure Alternatives/Quiet Life]
23. JEFFERSON AIRPLANE (28/03/2011)
[Volunteers/Bark/Long John Silver]
24. JOURNEY (01/02/2010)
[Departure/Escape/Frontiers]
25. TAJ MAHAL (24/01/2011)
[Taj Mahal/The Natch'l Blues/Mo' Roots]
26. CHARLES MINGUS (26/07/2010)
[Mingus Ah Um/Mingus Dynasty/Tijuana Moods]
27. WILLIE NELSON (01/02/2010)
[Yesterday's Wine/Red Headed Stranger/Stardust]
28. THE ONLY ONES (09/01/2012)
[The Only Ones/Even Serpents Shine/Baby's Got A Gun]
29. SHUGGIE OTIS (09/01/2012)
[Here Comes Shuggie Otis/Freedom Flight/Inspiration Information]
30. DOLLY PARTON (8/02/2010)
[Eagle When She Flies/Slow Dancing With The Moon/White Limozeen]
31. IGGY POP (28/03/2011)
[New Values/Soldier/Party]
32. ELVIS PRESLEY (26/09/2011)
[Today/From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis Tennessee/Moody Blue]
33. PRIMAL SCREAM (26/09/2011)
[Vanishing Point/Echo Dek/XTRMNTR]
34. SANTANA (08/02/2010)
[Illuminations/Oneness/The Swing of Delight]
35. SANTANA (26/09/2011)
[Havana Moon/Beyond Appearances/Spirits Dancing In The Flesh]
36. SCORPIONS (01/02/2010)
[In Trance/Virgin Killer/Taken By Force]
37. GIL SCOTT-HERON (24/01/2011)
[Real Eyes/Reflections/Moving Target]
38. SIMON and GARFUNKEL (01/02/2010)
[Sounds Of Silence/Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme/Bookends]
39. PATTI SMITH (26/07/2010)
[Gone Again/Peace And Noise/Gung Ho]
40. THE STRANGLERS (28/03/2011)
[Feline/Aural Sculpture/Dreamtime]
41. TOTO (08/02/2010)
[Toto/Hydra/Turn Back]
42. LUTHER VANDROSS (01/02/2010)
(Never Too Much/Give Me The Reason/The Power of Love)
43. VANGELIS (26/09/2011)
[Heaven And Hell/Albedo 0.39/Spiral]
44. THE WALKER BROTHERS (01/02/2010)
[No Regrets/Lines/Nite Flights]
45. MUDDY WATERS (24/01/2011)
[Hard Again/I'm Ready/King Bee]
46. BOBBY WOMACK (09/01/2012)
[Home Is Where The Heart Is/Pieces/Roads Of Life]
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Mark Barry "Mark Barry"
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