Today is one of the 10 albums that didn’t otherwise make my list that were selected by my son for inclusion. A really great album, the self-titled album “Taj Mahal” presented a fresh and energetic new take on traditional blues songs, with one original.
Track #2, “Statesboro Blues”, by Blind Willie McTell, was ultimately made much more famous by the rendition from the Allman Brothers, but I absolutely love this sound. Taj Mahal covers the lead vocals and also plays accompanying guitar and harmonica. We go all the way back to Robert Johnson for “Dust My Broom”, which ZZ Top fans will surely recognize as well. The overall sound is very authentic, while at the same time, a notable advancement from the generation before. His one original take “EZ Rider”, not to be confused with “Ezy Rider” by Hendrix, has a very catchy opening with his harmonica blended nicely with his singing.
His accompanying band is not surprisingly outstanding, and there is an edge and power to this I haven’t heard yet from any of the blues or blues-influenced disciples. The mix of rhythm in this blend reminds me of where Led Zeppelin ultimately took the blues, and I hear a lot of striking similarity to “Travelling Riverside Blues”, another Robert Johnson track they recorded and performed. If you know me, you know I don’t offer that type of comparison or praise lightly.
While not a massive commercial success, my uneducated guess is that Taj Mahal was an excellent featured artist and opening act for many a rock-blues show over the years, as a qualified purveyor of the genre who performs with a genuine tough delivery. It appears that he is booking shows again as the world opens up, I will be looking for an opportunity to experience this great sound live. So far, my son is 2 for 2 on his picks… well done.