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on 18 April 2007
I've liked a lot of James Taylor's material for more years than I care to mention. His transformation from early 70s hippie to modern day balding favourite uncle, has been littered with some truly classic songs.

When I was young and "hip" this was one of the albums you walked around the school with, tucked under your arm. Although those days are long gone and I now own it on CD, I still love it just as much today.

The key thing that attracted me to Taylor's music was the delicate guitar play that he effortlessly displays on this, and most of his other stand-out albums. It's like a top grade seamstress stitching together high class designs made out of some of the best fabrics you could buy.

I find it hard to pick out too many favourites as this has always been classed as an album rather than a collection of tracks. If you can understand that, then you're on same wavelength as me. It may be nostalgia, but I think this is up there with anything he ever did. A cool guy who went through life's mincing machine and came out the other end looking remarkably healthy and balanced. He still writes tremendous stuff and his live show is a master class, quite an understated humorist. Quality always shines through and this has enough to light up a 100 horizons.
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on 26 February 2006
I have all James's albums and I think this might easily be my favourite. The best tracks (in my opinion) are Love Has Brought Me Around, Places In My Past, You've Got A Friend (of course), You Can Close Your Eyes & Long Ago And Far Away. Another excellent track is Riding On A Rainroad which James brought out many years later as a live version but it's poor compared to the original. If you like James Taylor then this, his second album, has to be in your collection.
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on 25 October 2000
One of the lesser known James Taylor albums , well worth the extra trouble of finding it. The Lyrics show some serious skill and impressive guitar work. Brilliant choice for a cold winter evening, with moods that move from the uplifting "Love has brought me around" to traditional folk to the perfect depressing ballads of "Hey mister,thats me upon the jukebox".
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Fans of JT will know that only 3-tracks from "Mud Slide Slim..." are available as remasters - "You've Got A Friend", "You Can Close Your Eyes" and "Long Ago And Far Away" - all of them on the Warners Brothers/Rhino 'Best Of' compilation "You've Got A Friend" from 2003. And sweet they sound too...

But this Japan-only SHM-CD released 7 April 2010 on Warner Brothers WPCD-13820 (Barcode: 4943674097319) is the first time the entire album has been remastered since its release on a dull-sounding US/European CD in the mid Eighties. And as one of the first vinyl albums I ever bought as a kid and loved to bits - I'm thrilled to say that the 40-year wait has been worth it - because the audio quality on this CD reissue is BEAUTIFUL.

Part of a 6-album campaign (see list below), this 2010 remaster (37:34 minutes) was done by ISAO KIKUCHI in Japan and it's a limited edition (non-numbered) on the SHM-CD format. Super High Materials CDs do not require a specific machine to play them on - they're simply a better form of disc created by JVC in 2008 to improve on the original format (unchanged since it was first put out 30 years ago). The general idea is that the sound on the SHM-CD is more defined as they play - they seem to extract more nuances from the transfer - and of the 8 or so that I own - I've found this to be true.

The 5" mini repro packaging here apes the April 1971 USA vinyl release on Warner Brothers WS 2561 with its hard-card gatefold artwork (lyrics and recording details on the inside). The outer resealable bag it has to be said is very flimsy, so extracting and replacing the sleeve has to be done carefully lest you rip it. The 12-page plain white booklet is very ho-hum too - just lyrics and an essay in Japanese that you can't read. No pictures - nothing new. At least the rounded white paper inner bag has one of those protective poly-slips inside it to protect the CD. The disc itself repro's the green Warner Brothers label of the original vinyl album too - a nice touch. It's tastefully done as always with these releases. But it's all about the sound here...

1. Love Has Brought Me Around
2. You've Got A Friend
3. Places In My Past
4. Riding On A Railroad
5. Soldiers
6. Mud Slide Slim
7. Hey Mister, That's Me Up On The Jukebox [Side 2]
8. You Can Close Your Eyes
9. Machine Gun Kelly
10. Long Ago And Far Away
11. Let Me Ride
12. Highway Song
13. Isn't It Nice To Be Home Again
Tracks 1 to 13 are the album "Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon" - released April 1971 in the USA, May 1971 in the UK on Warner Brothers WS 2561 (reissued in the UK on Warner Brothers K 46085 in 1972)

Right from the opening bars of "Love Has Brought Me Around" you can suddenly hear the instruments - especially Leland Sklar and Russ Kunkel on Bass and Drums - so sweet and warm. Other highlights include the Banjo of John Hartford and Fiddle of Richard Green on "Riding On A Railroad" - much clearer now - as is the lovely accordion playing of Kevin Kelly on "Places In My Past".

As everyone knows "You've Got A Friend" was written by CAROLE KING and first turned up on her magnificent "Tapestry" album at almost the same time of release - April 1971. What is perhaps not stated enough is her overall contribution to James Taylor's "Mud Slide Slim" in that she played piano on 7 of its 13 tracks (harmonizing on others too) - and always with that beautiful melody she seemed to effortlessly get. It underpins "Hey Mister, That's Me Up On The Jukebox" (lyrics above title this review) and "Highway Son". The other beautiful lady contributing to proceedings is of course JONI MITCHELL who puts in rare guest vocal appearances on "You've Got A Friend" and the gorgeous "Long Ago And Far Away" - both sounding so much more defined here. If I wash pushed, I'd say the best-sounding tracks on here are "Machine Gun Kelly" and "Soldiers" - acoustic guitars, the rhythm section - all very, very sweet indeed.

Downsides - it's Japanese only, a limited edition and expensive. And the booklet could have done with some more pizzazz instead of the rather safe presentation it did get.

But if you've got any kind of love for this Seventies singer-songwriter album - then you owe it to yourself to acquire this SHM-CD version of it. Lovely, lovely stuff - and I'm saving up to get the rest...

PS: the albums remastered in Japan in this April 2010 series are:
1. Sweet Baby James (March 1970) on Warner Brothers WPCR-13819
2. Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon (July 1971) on Warner Brothers WPCR-13820
3. One Man Dog (November 1972) on Warner Brothers WPCR-13821
4. Walking Man (July 1974) on Warner Brothers WPCR-13822
5. Gorilla (May 1975) on Warner Brothers WPCR-13823
6. In The Pocket (June 1976) on Warner Brothers WPCR-13824
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on 1 July 2014
This is the dreaded album number three by which time the majority of artists have exhausted the cache of fine songs which were in their heads when they first entered the studio . John Prine mentally composed two albums worth of peaches while trudging the mean streets of Chicago with his mail sack . Lindisfarne gave the World two great discs before giving birth to the turkey that was Dingly Dell . Paul Simon , Bob Dylan , Bert Jansch and many others were struck down by album number three syndrome . James Taylor cunningly overcame this problem by getting the turkey out of his system first . The album cut in London for Apple was awful and made at a time when he was not well . The unfussy but sympatico backing is by Carole King , Leland Skar and Russ Kunkel . Joni Mitchell sings beautiful backup on two tracks . There is not a weak song but , strangely , the best two are gifted to him by friends - You've Got A Friend by Carole King and Machine Gun Kelly by childhood chum Danny Kootchmar . He pulls off a difficult task throughout by expertly walking a tightrope between hung up and laid back . Quite a feat . Played it this morning and it still blows my socks off .
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on 28 September 2013
Timeless music sung by a true talent. Perfect to listen to anytime but especially on a journey where you can sing along to words that can be clearly understood.
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on 6 April 2014
Back in the sixties when I was a regular in the Birmingham folk clubs I first heard people singing James Taylor songs and have been a fan ever since. This and Sweet Baby James were two of the first vinyl lp's I bought at the newly opened Virgin Record shop next to the old law courts in Corporation Street. I still have these in pretty good condition but rarely use the deck these days and you can't really play them in the car. I'm gradually replacing all my favourite vinyl and recently picked up the revamped Gordon Smith tracks. A very underated guitarist was Gordon. It is nice to listen to all the tracks without having to stop and turn over the disk. Well Gorden has only ever recorded a couple of albums and James moved into the world of jazz but it is nice to hear these old songs now and again, I always considered them to be his best work. JR.
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on 10 July 2011
This album is full of great songs, but two tracks stand out for me. Listen to Machine Gun Kelly with its hilarious deadpan humour for such a dark subject, but most of all Soldiers: 1.15 minutes of pure magic. The best song JT has ever written
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on 14 September 2015
I have this album on vinyl and it is one of my favourite albums. This is James Taylor young and writing beautiful songs and melodies. I saw him recently on Transatlantic Sessions and at 67 he still sounds brilliant.
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on 3 February 2011
I've loved this album since the 1970's, so I was very pleased to get it on C.D. at such a reasonable price. I have never tired of the mix of music on here, so to all James Taylor fans, and perhaps someone wanting to listen to him for a first time, would really recommend this particular offering from him.
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