Artist: James Taylor
Title: James Taylor
Musicians: James Taylor-guitar, vocals, Don Schinn-harpsichord, organ, Louis Cennamo-bass, Peter Asher-backing vocals, Bishop O’Brian-drums, Mick Wayne-guitar, Paul McCartney- bass, Freddie Red-organ
Producer: Peter Asher
From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Taylor James Vernon Taylor (born March 12, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time, and he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
Taylor achieved his breakthrough in 1970 with the No. 3 single “Fire and Rain” and had his first No. 1 hit the following year with “You’ve Got a Friend”, a recording of Carole King’s classic song. His 1976 Greatest Hits album was certified Diamond and has sold 12 million US copies. Following his 1977 album, JT, he has retained a large audience over the decades.
James Taylor first learned to play the cello as a child in North Carolina and switched to the guitar in 1960. His style on that instrument evolved from listening to hymns, carols, and Woody Guthrie, and his technique derived from his bass clef-oriented cello training and from experimenting on his sister Kate’s keyboards: “My style was a finger-picking style that was meant to be like a piano, as if my thumb were my left hand, and my first, second, and third fingers were my right hand.”
Around 1966 Taylor moved to New York City to form a band. They recruited Joel O’Brien, formerly of Kortchmar’s old band the King Bees, to play drums, and Taylor’s childhood friend Zachary Wiesner (son of noted academic Jerome Wiesner) to play bass, and after Taylor rejected the notion of naming the group after him, they called themselves the Flying Machine. They played songs that Taylor had written such as “Knocking ‘Round the Zoo”, “Don’t Talk Now”, and “The Blues Is Just a Bad Dream”. In some other songs, Taylor romanticized his life, but he was plagued by self-doubt. By summer 1966, they were performing regularly at the high-visibility Night Owl Cafe in Greenwich Village, alongside acts such as the Turtles and Lothar and the Hand People.
Taylor associated with a motley collection of people and began using heroin, to Kortchmar’s dismay, and wrote the “Paint It, Black”–influenced “Rainy Day Man” to depict his drug experience. In a hasty recording session in late 1966, the group cut a single, Taylor’s “Brighten Your Night with My Day,” backed with his “Night Owl”. Released on Jay Gee Records, a subsidiary of Jubilee Records. Other songs had been recorded during the same session, but Jubilee declined to go forward with an album.
Taylor would later say of this New York period, “I learned a lot about music and too much about drugs.” Indeed, his drug use had developed into full-blown heroin addiction during the final Flying Machine period: “I just fell into it, since it was as easy to get high in the Village as get a drink.” He hung out in Washington Square Park, playing guitar to ward off depression and then passing out, letting runaways and criminals stay at his apartment. Finally out of money and abandoned by his manager, he made a desperate call one night to his father. Isaac Taylor flew to New York and staged a rescue, renting a car and driving all night back to North Carolina with James and his possessions. Taylor spent six months getting treatment and making a tentative recovery; he also required a throat operation to fix vocal cords damaged from singing too harshly.
Taylor decided to try being a solo act with a change of scenery. In late 1967, funded by a small family inheritance, he moved to London, living various areas: Notting Hill, Belgravia, and Chelsea. After recording some demos in Soho, his friend Kortchmar gave him his next big break. Kortchmar used his association with the King Bees (who once opened for Peter and Gordon), to connect Taylor to Peter Asher. Asher was A&R head for the Beatles’ newly formed label Apple Records. Taylor gave a demo tape of songs, including “Something In The Way She Moves,” to Asher, who then played the demo for Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison. McCartney remembers his first impression: “I just heard his voice and his guitar and I thought he was great … and he came and played live, so it was just like, ‘Wow, he’s great.'” Taylor became the first non-British act signed to Apple and he credits Asher for “opening the door” to his singing career.
Living chaotically in various places with various women, Taylor wrote additional material, including “Carolina in My Mind”, and rehearsed with a new backing band. Taylor recorded what would become his first album from July to October 1968, at Trident Studios, at the same time the Beatles were recording The White Album. McCartney and an uncredited George Harrison guested on “Carolina in My Mind”, whose lyric holy host of others standing around me referred to the Beatles, and the title phrase of Taylor’s “Something in the Way She Moves” provided the lyrical starting point for Harrison’s classic “Something”.
During the recording sessions, Taylor fell back into his drug habit by using heroin and methedrine. He underwent physeptone treatment in a British program, returned to New York and was hospitalized there, and then finally committed himself to the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which emphasized cultural and historical factors in trying to treat difficult psychiatric disorders. Meanwhile, Apple released his debut album, James Taylor, in December 1968 in the UK and February 1969 in the US.
In July 1969, Taylor headlined a six-night stand at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. On July 20, he performed at the Newport Folk Festival as the last act and was cheered by thousands of fans who stayed in the rain to hear him. Shortly thereafter, he broke both hands and both feet in a motorcycle accident on Martha’s Vineyard and so was forced to stop playing for several months. However, while recovering, he continued to write songs and in October 1969 signed a new deal with Warner Bros. Records.
Who would have guessed that all that went on with James Taylor?
The familiar songs on this LP are different versions than the ones most folks hear and what the radio plays. Let me break it down.
Don’t Talk Now: This has an electric guitar in it. The percussion is handled by James Taylor as well as the vocals and guitar.
Something’s Wrong: Interestingly enough this track starts out with a bit of that nauseating Bach tune: “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” on acoustic guitar and then goes into the song. This is one of the tracks where they brought in an orchestra section comprised of Bassoon, Oboe and the Aeolian string quartet. The end of the song features only the strings and then goes straight into track #3
Knocking Round The Zoo: This was one of his very early songs as mentioned above. This one features some brass instruments. This is one of my favorites on the LP except for the strange bridge. It starts out with strings from the previous track, but then the song has a groove rock style and great lyrics.”Knocking ‘Round the Zoo” is a song written by James Taylor that was originally released on his 1968 debut album on Apple Records. He had previously recorded the song in 1966 with his band The Flying Machine, but that recording was not released until 1971 on James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine.
The lyrics were inspired by Taylor’s stay at the psychiatric facility McLean Hospital. In the first verse of the song, Taylor sings that “There’s bars on all the windows and they’re countin’ up the spoons.” In actuality, McLean had 2000 pound security screens on the windows rather than bars, but they did use special utensils and count all the metal after each meal. The verse goes on to state that “if I’m feeling edgy there’s a chick who’s paid to be my slave/And she’ll hit me with a needle if she thinks I’m trying to misbehave.” In the second verse, Taylor further sings of his anger towards the workers at McLean. In the third verse, Taylor sings of how he felt ostracized at McLean with lines such as “Now my friends all come to see me/They point at me and stare.”
Taylor biographer Timothy White criticizes the “ponderous” prelude on string instruments that arranger Richard Hewson appended to the song on the James Taylor album.
Sunshine Sunshine: There’s really nothing special about this track in my opinion. It’s just ok.
Taking It In: This track starts with harpsichord and is more up tempo, but not one of my favs.
Something In The Way She Moves: “Something in the Way She Moves” is a song written by James Taylor that appeared on his 1968 debut album for Apple Records, James Taylor. The opening line inspired George Harrison to write the #1 Beatles’ song “Something.” According to James Taylor’s stage banter at the Apollo Theater on June 16, 2015, this was the song he played for Paul McCartney as an audition before signing with Apple Records.
This is one of James Taylor’s hits. This is the original version on this LP. It has a faster time signature than the later version. (He slowed it down in the later version). I prefer the slower version as it seems to flow better in my opinion.
“Something in the Way She Moves” is a romantic song. Now days,Taylor plays the song accompanied only by acoustic guitar.
Carolina On My Mind: He changed this song later as well. This version has strings, drums and backing vocals where as the later version does not and its a little slower tempo. I prefer the later version myself. Paul McCartney is guest artist and plays bass on this song. Taylor wrote it while overseas recording for the Beatles’ label Apple Records, and the song’s themes reflect his homesickness at the time. Released as a single, the song earned critical praise but not commercial success. It was re-recorded for Taylor’s 1976 Greatest Hits album in the version that is most familiar to listeners.
Brighten Your Night With My Day:Nothing noteworthy on this track in my opinion. It has a strange brass ending and goes straight into the next track.
Night Owl: Another very early song from James Taylor. The brass ending of the previous track serves as the beginning of this track. This has an afro-beat groove to it and obviously up tempo. Good lyrics and one of my favorites.”Night Owl” was inspired by the Night Owl Cafe in Greenwich Village in New York City, where the Flying Machine often performed. Looks like Taylor biographer almost agrees with me: “The James Taylor album included instrumental interludes between songs, and James Taylor biographer Timothy White describes the brass instruments that were used for the interlude introducing “Night Owl” as “ungainly” and sounding like the overture to a Broadway musical”.
Rainy Day Man: This is a good song, but I think it would be better without the backing vocals. It seems this song is about self-pity.
Circle Round The Sun: This is a traditional song. Nothing special about this version, it’s just ok.
The Blues Is Just A Bad Dream: As one may guess, this is a blues number with acoustic guitar and vocals and there are strings in the background which ruins the whole feel of the song in my opinion. This would be far better without the strings.
Knockin Round The Zoo:https://youtu.be/lGmhNoolIIE