le 12 décembre 2003
I was lucky enough to first see James Taylor live in a small outdoor venue called Avaloch in rural Lenox, Massachusetts in the summer of 1970, after this first album recorded by the Beatles in London had been released and just before the release of the fabulously successful "Sweet Baby James" album by Warner Brothers. He appeared alone on-stage with a full head of long, long hair in a simple denim shirt and cut-up jeans with his four or five acoustic guitars, and for two and a half hours proceeded to absolutely enchant the sprawling lawn-full of hundreds of audience members with a spellbinding performance of all of the work from both of those albums. Although virtually unknown at the time, word of mouth had spread so quickly in the Berkshires area (who still considers him one of their own) that many of us went out to get this album to play before he appeared. The rest, as they say, is history.
This is a fantastic collection of his greatest hits garnered from both of his greatest hits collections, and so represents some twenty gems on an incredible collection of wonderful selections, and is therefore a terrific summary of that work. Many of my favorites are here, including "Something In The Way She Moves", "Carolina In My Mind", and "You Can Close Your Eyes". Of course, so is "Fire And Rain", "You've Got A Friend", "Steamroller Blues", and "Country Road", all now Taylor standards. My all time favorite song from this album is "Sweet Baby James", which is sung about the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts where I grew up, so I have always considered this a special song, with its evocation of a snow-driven drive along the turnpike just as winter's first snow hits the Berkshires. His performance on it is a brilliant early indication of just how incredibly talented an interpretive artist Taylor really is. He always pleases with songs like "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight", "Mexico", and "Walking Man", and this album is sure to please even the most cautious music fan. It is certainly a terrific showcase for how well Taylor can deliver on a variety of original works and covers of traditional folk songs. Enjoy!
le 17 juillet 2003
I am a true James Taylor fan and own all or parts of all the work he has done since 1970, but this album disappointed me. I did not care for the opening version of Something in the Way She Moves, despite its historical value. I much prefer the version on his Greatest Hits album. It just sounded too raw, too green and I certainly wouldn't have opened the album with it. The predictable hits, and certainly ones I like, are represented, but I also didn't care for the truly weird version of Country Roads. Overproduced--too many strings, a choir even--just was too much. I was pleased to see one of my favorites, You Can Close Your Eyes, on the album, but Long Ago and Far Away, Bittersweet, could have been left off. And so many great ones were not included: Copperline, Traffic Jam, Lonesome Road, Never Die Young, Millworker, were these not great? But the ultimate disappointment was what was the cheesy editing job on Steamroller Blues. I guess someone was offended or thought someone else would be offended by the great utterance of M---F--king at the great climax (pun unintentional but probably Freudian) of the song. I guess these same people would put a fig leaf on the statue of David. Gee, if it was so offensive, why was it not clumsily blotted out on the Greatest Hits album, released long ago? Were the producers offended, or did they just fear a "Parental Advisory" on the label? So what if it had it? Anyone who knows JT knows what is on the end of that song. Gee, why not take the Fish Cheer out out of the Woodstock Soundtrack too? Where does the censorship stop? All in all, a deceptive title if there was one. The collection seemed like it was put together by some resentful Gen Xer who didn't know his music at all. Buy it if your expectations are low.
le 8 avril 2003
There is very little on this album that couldn't have been released on a James Taylor "best-of" in 1978. Up On The Roof appears to be the most recent track, if you can call 1979 recent.
Unfortunately, this was about the time that Ol' JT switched record labels (Columbia to WEA) and so it was not possible to get a Greatest Hits package that actually contained all his greatest hits.
It still isn't. Not quite. Missing in action are his duets with his ex, Carly Simon (Mockingbird & Devoted To You), his duet with JD Souther (Her Town Too), What A Wonderful World (recorded with Art Garfunkel & Paul Simon) and the lovely remake of Buddy Holly's "Everyday". Or anything he's recorded during, say, Britney Spears' lifetime.
But what is here more than makes up for what's missing. Classic gentle songs, that warm you like brandy on a winter's night. And like brandy, age does not harm the contents.
At this year's Grammies, James was part of a singer-songwriter performance. Alongside "young whipper-snappers" like John Mayer and Vanessa Carleton, JT performed the 30-year old "Sweet Baby James", a track than never even sniffed at the charts.
One has to question whether Mayer or Carleton will be able to strike similar memory chords in 2038.
le 30 juillet 2003
The re-mastering on this CD was a good idea. Re-mixing from the multi-tracks would be even better(matching the original mixes of course). The bad idea was to EDIT the wounderful live version of "Steamroller Blues", and a bad edit at that. Wonder what James thinks about this? Stuff like this is really irritating! Who are these people & on what streets do they live!
Also, "Something In The Way She Moves" is the early version from JT's first Apple CD. The re-recorded version from the first "Greatest Hits" CD is the one I think should have been included here. The Apple CD already has this version. "Carolina In My Mind" is the newer version here, as was the first "Greatest Hits" CD. A sticker with this info on the CD cover would have been nice.
I purchased this CD at a local chain store & they would only let me trade for JT's first "Greatest Hits" CD (w/ the un-edited version of "Steamroller Blues"). This new CD was defective as far as I was conderned. (Lost a few bucks there, thank you very much!) Since I already had JT's first "Greatest Hits" CD, I gave this one to a friend.
Not counting the labels bad edit & lack of info on the outside of this CD, I do admit they did a great job with the re-mastering. Also, this new version does include a bonus track that is exclusive to this new "Best of JT" CD.
le 29 juillet 2003
Nobody would dispute that James Taylor is one of the most pre-eminent singer-songwriters of our day. You only need to see him perform live to realize the depth of this man's talent. Forget all the pre-fab, manufactured pop "icons" mass marketed by record companies today - James Taylor is nothing of the sort. When James gained his fame back in the late 60's and 70's, it was based on nothing less than exceptional musical talent.
James Taylor writes moving songs, and he can pick a guitar with the best of them. His tenor voice is unmistakable, one of the smoothest crooners in popular music. It takes an extraordinary musician to remain in the limelight over the course of four decades, as James has done - he deserves all the accolades and recognition he's received over the years.
This greatest hits album is a wonderful collection of some of James Taylor's best tunes. It's marvelous to be able to hear songs like "Sweet Baby James," "You've Got a Friend," or "Carolina In My Mind" played under the technological gift of digitally remastered recording - these tunes have NEVER sounded better!
I don't blame you for holding onto your old James Taylor recordings - whether they're 8-track, vinyl, or cassette. You've probably got lots of memories tied up in those recordings! But I urge you to take advantage of the digital sound offered in this new release. This quality digital recording finally does justice to twenty timeless tunes from one of the best singer-songwriters ever.
le 16 juin 2003
While browsing in a bookstore recently I was stunned to hear the old choral version of "Country Road" playing, with the beautiful sustained voices at the end. I hadn't heard that version since 1971 on KDEO radio (San Diego), and I'd been looking for it for years! I asked what CD they were playing, it was this one, and I bought it immediately. I'd always been disappointed in the simpler version from the "Sweet Baby James" album; it's the choral version I heard first and really liked, but I had given up hope of ever finding it again. As for the rest of the album, well, it's good ol' lovin' J.T. as we knew him best in the '70s. Since I gave up on him in the '80s due to all his brainless cover tunes ("Handy Man," "Up On The Roof"), I'm happy this collection stopped when it did. However, "Only A Dream In Rio" is an unexpectedly nice newer release I was glad to see included. As for "Mexico," check out Jimmy Buffett's superior version with beautiful piano and strings in the intro. And of course "greatest hits" doesn't always mean "best songs": my favorite JT song is still the gently powerful "Suite For 20G," which won't ever appear in any collection like this.
le 26 mai 2003
I first got into James Taylor when I was watching a special on TRIO called "James Taylor sings James Taylor" and it was just James and his well worn, Gibson acoustic guitar, and I instantly fell in love. I'd be totally lieing if I told I was satisfied when I picked up all of his early work. I really can't stand all of the [stuff] that goes with his songs....I love James taylor stripped down, ya know, to his guitar and his voice....THAT'S IT, guitar and voice. I don't care for all the studio stuff and other instruments or harmonies.
This greatest hits collection is pretty good if you take it for what it is and don't make any comparisons, but if you are like me and just a fan of his early days then you'll only be listening to about 6 songs and that's it. I'll happily admit that the sound is great and the art work is good, but it really comes down to the music and James Taylor is one of the best singer-songwriters ever, and his voice is amazing....you just close your eyes and lose yourself.
My favorite James Taylor song is You Can Close Your Eyes, but I was a little upset that Riding on a Railroad wasn't on the album.
In Conclusion, I'm a bigger fan of the stripped down James Taylor, but this IS pretty good album
le 15 avril 2003
This is the collection to own of JT's work. All the hits are here, including the entire old Warner Bros. Greatest Hits album and then the Columbia hit material. However 2 or 3 songs are included on this great set that really are not needed such as " You Can Close your Eyes" or Golden Moments, and "Long Ago and Far Away. These 3 songs are good songs but they do not add any flavor to the collection. What about the old tune "Rainy Day Man, which dates back to the "Flying Machine" days and then was re-recorded for his debut album, "James Taylor" on Apple records back in 1969. There has to be a way Warner Bros could have got the rights to this classic. Also what about Copperline, it could have fit in nicely after "Only A Dream in Rio", in the time frame of things. This collection also features a new track, "Bittersweet" which is absolutely top notch and should turn out to be a JT classic, the best JT song in years!!!!! This collection is a MUST BUY!!!!!
le 11 avril 2003
As a sampler of the anticipated upcoming remastering of James Taylor's Warner Bros. catalog, this is a fantastic teaser. All these tracks have been available for a long time on CD, except for the rare Apple recording of "Something in the Way She Moves," yet the WB tracks (everything up to "Handy Man") have never sounded so warm and clear. The Joni Mitchell harmonies on "You've Got A Friend" and "Long Ago and Far Away" are a revelation, as are the lovely multi-tracked JT harmonies "Golden Moments" and the strings on "Walking Man." The few tracks on the end of the disc from his early/mid Columbia years have been remastered recently, both on their original albums, and the "Greatest Hits Vol. II," which is also a nice overview of Taylor's post WB years up until his great 2002 studio album "October Road." (The exception is, the new song "Bittersweet" which is amiable, but not resonant like Taylor's other recent work.) It might have been better to draw upon some more choice album cuts from the WB years, but this is merely subjective. What's here is poignant, passionate, sublime and sounding better than it ever has.
le 10 avril 2003
I grew up listening to James Taylor. I loved his gentle voice. It sounds as if he can heal any sad situation the way he easily rock you softly. During the folk rock generation of the late 60s and 70s, Taylor along with others like Carole King brought to listeners a kind of enjoyment and comforting solace. The lyrics gathered on his life of loneliness, longing, dreams, hopes and gentle passion. The way he handles himself is in a way terse and optimistic all at the same time.
There was a rare concert appearance with Carole King. They both did 'You've Got A Friend.' They both share it's sentiment. Not only has he recorded and performed it, but Carole King has recorded it from her album, "Tapestry." This is a very special album for me because all the favorite hits are here in one album. From the pleasant, bluesy 'How Sweet It Is' and moody 'Fire and Rain' to the musing 'Handy Man' and the magic in 'Sweet Baby James.' Who makes music like this anymore? It's hard to realize that all the bygone years have gone by so fast that we only have great memories of what some of the great stuff use to be. That's my sweet baby James :).