Yeah, yeah, no, not that one, I’m talking about Henry Saint Clair Fredericks Jr. aka singer musician songwriter Taj Mahal. The guy’s been performing for more than 50 years; I hear they named some building in India after him.
Did you know that Taj’s first band, The Rising Sons, included Ry Cooder (whose new album Election Special is a must)? Anywho, I saw Taj Mahal live at the Fillmore East back in 1971. You wanna talk about an amazing night? Opening act was Donny Hathaway. Then Taj Mahal. Then Leon Russell. All for five bucks.
He’d just released a double live album, The Real Thing, recorded live at Fillmore East, and was back at the Fillmore with the same line-up and material a few months later.
This was an amazing live show. His band included John Simon (who produced just about everybody back in the 60′s including The Band, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen) and John Hall (who would go on to found Orleans and then later go to the U.S. Congress). But the crazy bit was that the nine piece band backing him including a four piece brass section and all of those guys doubled on tuba. That’s right, a bitchin’ boss rockin’ teenage combo blues band with four freaking tubas.
The high point of that show and the album for me was a song called ”You Ain’t No Street Walker Mama, Honey but I Sure Do Love the Way You Strut Your Stuff”. Running almost 19 minutes, it takes up the entire 4th side of the 2 LP set.
Anyway, Taj is now 70 years old and still performing. He’s also started going back into his vaults and has come up with The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal 1969-1973.
It’s a 2 disc set. The first disc is 12 previously unreleased studio tracks and the second disc is a complete concert from the Royal Albert Hall from 1970.
The highlight of this set for me comes on the studio disc – after all these years, a studio version of “You Ain’t No Streetwalker Mama, Honey …” If anything, it sounds even looser and better than the live version I’ve been enjoying for 40 years.
Check it out.