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Sister Kate

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Album Review

This classic recording by the sibling of Livingston and James Taylor offers valuable insight for fans of Carole King's landmark album, Tapestry, but Sister Kate is also a great work in its own right. Peter Asher of Peter & Gordon was the guiding hand behind James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, and to have his vision of Carole King's "Where You Lead" and "Home Again" from Tapestry with the musicians who helped King paint her masterpiece is a major treat. (Lou Adler's perspective on these tunes was what helped reshape music in the '70s, and to have another successful producer issuing the same music at the exact moment in time is essential study for Musicology 101.) "Where You Lead" has a totally different flavor from both King's classic album track and Barbara Streisand's hit. Vocally, Kate Taylor isn't Chi Coltrane or Jessi Colter, but she's very musical just the same. It's interesting that she would do versions of two songs Rod Stewart covered. Stewart got some serious airplay with "Handbags and Gladrags," but he didn't have Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Merry Clayton, and most of the Tapestry players on his version of the Mike D'Abo tune — Kate Taylor gets that honor. She also does a fine rendition of the Elton John/Bernie Taupin track which Stewart got FM album airplay with, "Country Comforts," and takes it a step further by covering "Ballad of a Well Known Gun" from the John/Taupin catalog as well. Beverly Martyn's "Sweet Honesty" plays like Donovan's "Season of the Witch," and it works well for this place in time, but the real knockout tunes here are, coincidentally, Taylor's rendition of Livingston Taylor's "Be That Way," and her takes on James Taylor's "Lo and Behold" and "You Can Close Your Eyes." These three go right out of the park, so you can draw your own conclusions as to how well-schooled she was on the music being made by her brothers. The addition of "Jesus Is Just All Right" somewhat mars "Lo and Behold"; the two form a medley, with "Lo and Behold's chorus pressing up against the "Jesus Is Just All Right" melody, but once again, the choice of what would become a '70s standard for the Doobie Brothers two years later shows the intuitive nature of this project. Mort Shuman and Jerry Ragavoy got attention the year before when Janis Joplin's Pearl contained her dynamic version of their "Get It While You Can." Kate Taylor is better suited to their "Look at Granny Run, Run," and she does a fine job with it here. This is the album that got away, and all serious fans of pop, '70s rock, and good music in general owe it to themselves to seek Sister Kate out. It's a very impressive work of art.

Biography

Born: August 15, 1949 in Boston, MA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '00s

Like her famous brother James, folksinger Kate Taylor has shared a love for music since she could remember. Her roots in rockabilly and pop flesh out her connection to the classic Appalachian stylings she's known to perform. She formed her first band at 15 and had a solo deal with Atlantic four years later; Sister Kate marked her debut in 1971. A self-titled sophomore effort appeared in 1978, showcasing production work by brother James and Barry Beckett (Alabama, J.J. Cale, Bob Dylan). Kate Taylor...
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Sister Kate, Kate Taylor
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