This 1996 album picks up where Dancing the Blues left off three years earlier, with producer John Porter and most of the same studio cast. There's more of a New Orleans flavor this time, with barrelhouse pianist Jon Cleary contributing a couple of originals to go with such classics as Jesse Hill's "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" and Fats Domino's "Let the Four Winds Blow." Bonnie Raitt and a full vocal chorus help kick "I Need Your Loving" into overdrive. Mahal's one original is the tender, acoustic country-sounding "Lovin' in My Baby's Eyes".
Taj's Blues is an entertainingly diverse record, featuring a variety of blues and roots-music styles, all fused together into a distinctive sound of its own. Half of the album is played on acoustic, the other with an electric band (which includes guitarists Ry Cooder and Jesse Davis on a handful of tracks), which gives a pretty good impression of the range of Mahal's talents. It's a good collection, featuring many of his best performances for Columbia, including "Statesboro Blues" and "Leaving Trunk," as well as the unreleased "East Bay Woman".
Señor Blues is one of Taj Mahal's best latter-day albums, a rollicking journey through classic blues styles performed with contemporary energy and flair. There's everything from country-blues to jazzy uptown blues on Señor Blues, and Taj hits all of areas in between, including R&B and soul. Stylistically, it's similar to most of his albums, but he's rarely been as effortlessly fun and infectious as he is here.
It is impossible to describe the legendary musician Taj Mahal in any short phrase. Yes, he's a soulful Blues singer and guitar player, but also a globetrotting multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, ethnomusicologist, musicians' advocate, and the winner of two Grammy Awards. Oh yeah, he is also a warm human being, with a great sense of humor, and he likes to fish, and smoke fine cigars! For over 40 years Taj Mahal has been playing his very own distinctive brand of Blues. On a rock solid Country-Blues foundation the artist has layers a mixture of genres, including Caribbean, Hawaiian, African, Latin, and Cuban sounds and rhythms blended with Folk, Jazz, Zydeco, Gospel, Rock, Pop, Soul, and R&B. It's been said he plays Afro-Caribbean Blues, Folk-World-Blues, Hula Blues, Folk-Funk, and half a dozen other hyphenated descriptions which have attempted to describe his style, whereas in truth trying to pigeonhole the man is a futile exercise. The glue that sticks it all together is Taj's enduring interest in musical discovery, particularly in tracing American musical forms back to their roots in Africa and Europe.
This record was originally released in 1991 after Taj had taken a break for a number of side projects including children's records. He was obviously refreshed - the record is full of new ideas and incorporates new production techniques, check out the lovely song "Every wind in the river" and also the scratching and rap stylings of "Squat that rabbit". A bit radical for blues but both work very well. Taj revists the song "Giant step" and also takes the traditional blues "Blues with a feeling" to New Orleans, with an added dash of steel guitar (!?!). Guests include banjo player David Johnson, guitarist David Lindley, Andy Kravitz and Bill Summers and the backing band sound great throughout. This is a really good, imaginative record that saw Taj coming back to form and his next couple of records in the 90s were even better.
Decades before Corey Harris, Guy Davis, and Keb' Mo' wed the Delta blues to various folk forms, there was Taj Mahal. Almost from the very beginning, Mahal provided audiences with connections to a plethora of blues styles. Further, he offered hard evidence connecting American blues to folk styles from other nations, particularly, but not limited to, those from the West Indies and various African countries, bridging gaps, highlighting similarities, and establishing links between many experiences of the African diaspora…
One of the most prominent figures in late 20th century blues, singer/multi-instrumentalist Taj Mahal played an enormous role in revitalizing and preserving traditional acoustic blues. Not content to stay within that realm, Mahal soon broadened his approach, taking a musicologist's interest in a multitude of folk and roots music from around the world reggae and other Caribbean folk, jazz, gospel, R&B, zydeco, various West African styles, Latin, even Hawaiian. The African-derived heritage of most of those forms allowed Mahal to explore his own ethnicity from a global perspective and to present the blues as part of a wider musical context.