Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contra Band (Telarc)

 |   |  1 min read

Otis Taylor: Blind Piano Teacher
Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contra Band (Telarc)

Singer-guitarist Taylor is nominally posted here under Blues in Elsewhere, but -- as always, see previous reviews here -- he doesn't easily fit into the prescription, broad though it might be.

Here, for example, he leans towards African sounds on Yell Your Name (just him, drums and cornet on a chant-like song) and sometimes has a djembe player alongside pedal steel, organ and fiddle.

Taylor is the kind of guy who conceives a song ("a young black blind piano teacher lives with an older white man", "a black soldier, after fighting abroad in World War I, realises he has never seen Africa" or "a man begs a woman for compassion after a hard life") and then finds the voice, style and instrumentation to convey the idea.

He has a profound sense of history also: Contraband Blues is described as "during the Civil War, some slaves who escaped to the North were held by the Union Army as contraband, the same as captured property" and Romans Had Their Way is "if the Romans had their way in war, would we still be here today?"

Many of these songs work over repeated guitar or rhythmic figures and have a hypnotic quality, enhanced by Taylor's occasionally high and soft voice. This isn't blues which barks at you, rather he draws you in. He's a storyteller too.

Of course he does unleash hell'n'fury sometimes (I Can See You're Lying where guitarist Jon Paul Johnson lets fly) but Taylor is a someone different and special, and this is another album which delivers the unexpected. Which, ironicaly, is what you'd expect from him.

Make the time to discover Otis Taylor. He offer "blues" with a difference.

Like the sound of this? Then check out the link to his previous albums or try this guy.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Blues articles index

BUDDY GUY INTERVIEWED (1992): Damn right he's famous

BUDDY GUY INTERVIEWED (1992): Damn right he's famous

Buddy Guy is talking about his club Legends in his home town of Chicago. Every Sunday and Monday it is open for all-comers, just sign at the door, get up there and play your blues. Since Guy... > Read more

Watermelon Slim: Up Close & Personal (Southern/Yellow Eye)

Watermelon Slim: Up Close & Personal (Southern/Yellow Eye)

Not only does white bluesman Watermelon Slim sound like the blackest 1940s blues player that ever was, but he's also has had an extraordinary life. Believable if you read it in a novel, but all... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Kyongju, South Korea: The Sleep of the Just

Kyongju, South Korea: The Sleep of the Just

The middle-aged man was upset I had woken him at the unacceptably early hour of noon. But I guess that's the kind of inconvenience he has to expect if he runs a yogwan, one of the cheap... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . MARNI NIXON: The voice of the famous faces

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . MARNI NIXON: The voice of the famous faces

When the American singer Marni Nixon died in July 2016, her passing was barely noted in the music press. Major newspapers like the New York Times weighed in with obituaries, but the silence from... > Read more