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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Taj Mahal ‎- Giant Step / De Ole Folks At Home (1969 us, magnificent electric acousttic blues folk, 2017 japan remaster)

Along with Ry Cooder, Taj was a founder of the legendary Rising Sons, and went on to release two stripped down delta-blues classics in 1968. Giant Step, released concurrently with a raw collection of solo recordings called De Ole Folks At Home in 1969, would be his third, and personal favorite to many.  It’s the title track’s delicate, sparse mood I can’t stuff in my head enough. Taj transforms the Monkees hit, composed by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, into a relaxed and gorgeous rural roamer – his muddy vox rolls all over the changes, miles beyond blues. And though Giant Step isn’t completely free of the old I-IV-V, just let the feedback harmonica moan from Give Your Woman What She Wants hook you in, the toe-tapping Cajun feel to You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond take you along, and overpowered drive of Six Days On The Road stamp it down, then see who cares about chord progressions anymore.

The most fun comes from inventive production touches: childish piano tittering on Good Morning Little School Girl, metronomic banjo rapping on Farther On Down The Road (one of two originals on the record and an easy classic), ace country guitar leads all throughout provided by Jesse Ed Davis, here accompanying Taj for the third and final record before embarking on his own solo career (releasing three solid records and sessioning with plenty of the greats). The final track, Bacon Fat, is a pretty standard blues originally penned by The Band, and here mostly a drawn out jam affording everbody last licks.

The album is actually 2 in 1, accompanied with De Ole Folks At Home, an acoustic solo set with Taj providing old-time steel-body slide picking, clawhammer banjo, harp, and hambone on traditional and classic numbers like Cluck Old Hen and Fishing Blues, as well as several originals. It’s like pulling up a hot seat on Taj’s front porch, who would pass? An excellent pairing, this record is essential on its own and along with Giant Step you can’t refuse. Downhome grooves, raw authentic performances, a plain fun record that got me rethinking the blues. “Take a giant step outside your mind.”
by Brendan McGrath, September 2nd, 2009 

1. Ain't Gwine Whistle Dixie Anymo' (Jesse Ed Davis, Taj Mahal, Chuck Blackwell, Gary Gilmore) - 1:04
2. Take A Giant Step (Carole King, Gerry Goffin) - 4:18
3. Give Your Woman What She Wants (Joel Hirschhorn, Taj Mahal) - 2:32
4. Good Morning Little School Girl (Bob Love, Don Level) - 3:46
5. You're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond (Buffy Sainte Marie) - 4:59
6. Six Days On The Road (Carl Montgomery, Earl Green) - 3:03
7. Farther On Down The Road (You Will Accompany Me) (Jesse Ed Davis, Taj Mahal, Chuck Blackwell, Gary Gilmore) - 4:41
8. Keep Your Hands Off Her (Huddie Ledbetter) - 2:17
9. Bacon Fat (Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson) - 6:47
10.Linin' (Huddie Ledbetter) - 1:43
11.Country Blues #1 (Taj Mahal) - 2:40
12.Wild Ox Moan (Ruby Pickens Tartt, Vera Hall) - 2:48
13.Light Rain Blues (Taj Mahal) - 3:24
14.A Little Soulful Tune (Taj Mahal) - 2:40
15.Candy Man (Rev. Gary Davis) - 2:58
16.Cluck Old Hen (Taj Mahal) - 2:34
17.Colored Aristocracy (Taj Mahal) - 2:08
18.Blind Boy Rag (Taj Mahal) - 4:14
19.Stagger Lee (Harold Logan, Lloyd Price) - 3:26
20.Cajun Tune (Taj Mahal) - 1:59
21.Fishin' Blues (Henry Thomas, Jay Mayo "Ink" Williams) - 3:11
22.Annie's Lover (Taj Mahal) - 3:34

*Taj Mahal - Vocals, Harmonica, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar
*Jesse Ed Davis - Electric, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Organ
*Chuck Blackwell - Drums
*Gary Gilmore - Bass

1968  Taj Mahal - Taj Mahal (2017 japan reissue) 
1968  Taj Mahal - The Natch'l Blues (remastered with bonus tracks) 
1965-66/92  Rising Sons - Rising Sons 
Related Act
1970  Jesse Davis (japan edition)
1972  Ululu (2003 japan HDCD remaster)
1973  Jesse Ed Davis - Keep Me Comin' (Japan 2017) 

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