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White African

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Album Review

Otis Taylor has a knack for interesting titles; Blue-Eyed Monster and When Negros Walked the Earth are among the CDs that the Denver bluesman recorded before White African. Taylor also has a knack for very dark and sobering themes — this 2001 release, in fact, is full of them. On White African, Taylor's subject matter ranges from lynching in the Deep South ("Saint Martha Blues") to homelessness ("Hungry People") to being unable to afford health care for a sick, dying child ("3 Days and 3 Nights"). And Taylor doesn't try to sugarcoat his often disturbing lyrics with happy melodies. Greatly influenced by John Lee Hooker, the very soulful Taylor often favors moody, dusky, haunting grooves. So White African is as dark musically as it is lyrically. Over the years, dark humor has played a major role in the blues — like country and hip-hop artists, bluesmen are known for finding a variety of humorous, clever ways to tell you how cruel and punishing life can be. But White African isn't dark humored; it's simply dark. This CD is also incredibly compelling, and it is enthusiastically recommended to those who don't expect lighthearted escapism from all of their music.

Biography

Born: 1948 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '70s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Bluesman Otis Taylor never skirted tough subject matter in a career that took him from the Folklore Center in Denver to a brief stay in London, England, to retirement from music in 1977, to being a successful antiques broker and, since 1995, back again to the blues. Taylor's 2001 CD White African (Northern Blues Music), featuring Kenny Passarelli (bass, keyboards) and Eddie Turner (lead guitar), became his most direct and personal statement about the experiences of African-Americans. He addressed...
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White African, Otis Taylor
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