By Kevin Bridges
When you think about it, it’s not that surprising James Taylor has released an album of cover songs. Some of his biggest hits, including “How Sweet It Is” and “You’ve Got a Friend” were written by others. All of the songs in this collection have been part of his live show over the years, but never recorded in the studio.
The remarkable thing is how easily James Taylor can make anybody’s song a James Taylor song. His instantly recognizable warm, mellow vocals serve as tour guide on this trip through several decades of classic songs.
With these 12 favorites, Taylor journeys into several genres of music with ease. Unexpected R&B jewels like “(I’m a) Roadrunner” by Junior Walker and the All-Stars and the George Benson hit “On Broadway” groove with ease both vocally and musically.
Taylor’s foray into Country makes you wish he had done the whole project with his cowboy boots on. Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” and John Anderson’s “Seminole Wind” are definite high points of the collection. There are also versions of the true classics “Why Baby Why” and “Hound Dog.” Another that’s certainly unexpected and maybe the most fun is the Dixie Chicks’ “Some Days You Gotta Dance.”
“Summertime Blues” leaves a little to be desired, but Taylor more than makes up for this lackluster effort with Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”, which may be one his best performances ever.
The QVC exclusive version of the CD has four bonus tracks and a “making of” video.
The project was recorded in a converted barn in Western Massachusetts. Taylor and 12 musicians spent ten days in January putting down tracks in a live format. You can instantly feel the energy from the musicians actually playing together studio.
Covers may have recorded in a barn during the bleak New England winter, but the North Carolina native makes you feel like he’s playing your backyard barbecue on a Sunday afternoon in June.
James Taylor has definitely recorded a collection of classics that may someday be considered a classic in its own right.
1. “It’s Growing”
2. “(I’m a) Road Runner”
3. “Wichita Lineman”
4. “Why Baby Why”
5. “Some Days You Gotta Dance”
6. “Seminole Wind”
8. “Hound Dog”
10. “On Broadway”
11. “Summertime Blues”
12. “Not Fade Away”
QVC bonus tracks
1. “Get a Job”
2. “In the Midnight Hour”
3. “Knock on Wood”
4. “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'”
5. Video on making of the album