Blues with a Feeling: The Very Best of Taj Mahal

by: Taj Mahal

Throughout his career, Taj Mahal has always been considered a bluesman, which is true enough, since the basis for everything he does has been the country blues, but he is not a traditionalist at heart, and he has always looked for ways to push the blues into new places and shapes. Adding at times rhythms and sensibilities that are drawn from reggae, ragtime, calypso, zydeco, and other genres, Mahal practices a kind of blues hybrid that is his alone, and he has been a huge influence on newer artists like Chris Thomas King and Corey Harris. This collection derives from the five albums he recorded with Private Records during the 1990s, and overlaps somewhat with The Best of the Private Years, released in 2000. Highlights include his version of Doc Pomus' "Lonely Avenue," a bebop blues take on Horace Silver's "Señor Blues," and an atmospheric reading of Goffin & King's "Take a Giant Step." Among the most interesting tracks here are the ones penned by Taj Mahal himself ("Mailbox Blues," "Cakewalk into Town," "New Hula Blues"), each of which demonstrates aptly the singer's melting-pot approach to the blues. ~ Steve Leggett

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