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The Real Thing

Taj Mahal

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Album Review

Taj Mahal followed up Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home (1969) with another double-disc concert platter whose title pretty much sums up the contents. The Real Thing (1971) is drawn from a mid-February run of shows at the Fillmore East in New York City where he, Spencer Davis, the Chambers Brothers, and Roberta Flack, among others, shared the bill. Mahal (vocals/banjo/guitar/harmonica/arranger/fife/harp/steel guitar/ harmonica) is supported by an interesting extended aggregate with a brass section consisting of Joseph Daley (tuba/horn/trombone), Bob Stewart (horn), and a pair of former Charles Mingus bandmembers, Earl McIntyre (horn) and Howard Johnson (horn). While at times they tend to overpower the usually intimate nature of the performances, that is certainly not the case for the majority of the arrangements. The opener, "Fishin' Blues," is a solo with Mahal accompanying himself on banjo. "Ain't Gwine to Whistle Dixie (Any Mo')" is significantly lengthened from the form found on Giant Step (1968) as it stretches nearly nine minutes and allows plenty of room for interaction, offering up a spirited fife interlude from Mahal. In addition to providing an overview from his back catalog, The Real Thing contains a few new compositions. The full ensemble gets a workout on the funky "Sweet Mama Janisse" and the toe-tappin' rural flavor of the instrumental "Tom and Sally Drake" is lightly augmented by a sole tuba — presumably that of Johnson. Sleepy John Estes' "Diving Duck Blues" arguably submits the most successful incorporation of brass, sporting a driving, full-throttle rhythm and soulful interpretation. The 2000 CD reissue was extended to fit the entire live set, adding the previously unavailable "She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride," matching the intensity of the sizeable bluesy, closing jam "You Ain't No Street Walker Mama, Honey But I Do Love They Way You Strut."

Customer Reviews

Soulful, Powerful Blues

I've been listening to this for years since it's one of my dad's favorites, but I LOVE it also. Taj Mahal brings the soul, the power, the grove more than any other artist I've ever heard. Don't miss "Ain't Gwine to Whistle Dixie (Any Mo')", the first 30 seconds iTunes lets you listen to is the opener, Taj begins to rock right after the clip ends and keeps it going for all 9 minutes of the song. AMAZING! Also make sure to get Sweet Mama Janisee, Going Up to the Country and Paint My Mailbox blue (fabulous), You're going to need somebody on your bond, and John it Ain't Hard.

aint gonna

aint gwine to whistle dixie any mo' is the qintesential taj tuba tour de force. I like to sit back and groove with this one. get it now. neogeo.

Awesome!!!!

I went to the original concert at the Filmore East. Over the years I've burned this album to the point that I have to get the CD version because the album is worn out. Highly recommend it, this album will take young musicians to school.

Biography

Born: May 17, 1942 in New York, NY

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most prominent figures in late 20th century blues, singer/multi-instrumentalist Taj Mahal played an enormous role in revitalizing and preserving traditional acoustic blues. Not content to stay within that realm, Mahal soon broadened his approach, taking a musicologist's interest in a multitude of folk and roots music from around the world — reggae and other Caribbean folk, jazz, gospel, R&B, zydeco, various West African styles, Latin, even Hawaiian. The African-derived heritage...
Full Bio

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