Saturday, February 6, 2010


Recapturing the Banjo takes on the challenge of placing the banjo back in rootsier contexts. Taj Mahal did something like this many years ago, in fact. Check out Taj's Recyclin' the Blues album, for instance. Taylor says that "the banjo has become so closely associated with folk singers and bluegrass players. Over the years, the instrument just lost touch with its roots, and I'm just trying to re-establish that connection." Does it work?

Indeed it does. From the first clawhammer notes of "Ran So Hard the Sun Went Down" which features Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris and Don Vappie joining Otis Taylor on banjos, and Otis hooting the vocals, through "A Prophet's Mission" (Hart taking the lead on a tale about Tecumseh) right to death songs ("Simple Mind") to the Keb' Mo' tune that closes the album ("The Way It Goes") this is an album of moods and melody. The banjo becomes more than simply that percussive, harsh thing in the background. It's more than the flashy solo bluegrass instrument. It takes on an identity of its own. And you begin to hear subtleties you never thought possible.

Of course the presence of such a fine group of banjo sympathisers helps. Along with Hart, Harris, Keb' Mo' and Vappie, there's Guy Davis on mandolin, guitar and harmonica, Cassie Taylor on bass and Ron Miles on cornet. Add a touch of lap steel here and an electric banjo there, and you have a classic album celebrating a classic instrument. With Otis Taylor's fine songwriting and leadership this makes for a remarkable listening experience.

Tracks :

1. Ran So Hard the Sun Went Down
2. Prophets Mission
3. Absinthe
4. Live Your Life
5. Walk Right In
6. Bow-Legged Charlie
7. Hey Joe
8. Little Liza Jane
9. Five Hundred Roses
10. Les Ognons
11. Deep Blue Sea
12. Simple Mind
13. Ten Million Slaves
14. Way It Goes, The

1 comment:

  1. Exploring the music of Otis Taylor. Some awesome shit... looking forward to checking out this one. Thanks for the share.
    -Frankie Mules


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