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Motown meets singer songwriter,
This review is from: The Essential Collection (Audio CD)
This collection from the late 1960s and early 1970s represents a rare opportunity to experience how Motown could energise the music of so-called 'singer songwriters.' Taylor wrote most of his own material, often in collaboration with members of Motown's Holland/Dozier/Holland team. As a result, you keep hearing the kind of backing more usually heard on records by the likes of The Four Tops. The result is often irresistible. Songs such as 'Let's Go Somewhere' and 'Just Like In The Movies' have this stamp. Yet sometimes the Motown influence isn't as obvious, as on James Taylor's 'Fire And Rain'. His slightly drawling voice reminds you that he's in an unexpected recording environment, but, at its best, the overall effect is exhilarating.
As with many compilations of artists on the margins of fame, the quality of the material tends to decline a little as it progresses. The big hitters are all in the first half: 'Gotta See Jane,' 'There's A Ghost In My House' and 'Indiana Wants Me.' The remaining songs are worth hearing for the style in which they're recorded, almost all of them good or very good songs, but none of them great. 'Two Of Us' seems a strange choice from the Lennon/McCartney catalogue, one of the lesser songs from 'Let It Be,' but this is still an entertaining compilation.