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

Joe Louis Walker:  Hornet's Nest (Alligator/Southbound)

Joe Louis Walker: Hornet's Nest (Alligator/Southbound)

The furious and fiery, award-winning 64-year old Joe Louis Walker is, of course, a bluesman . . .  but you could equally file some of his material under "rock" and even "hard... > Read more

JANIS JOPLIN: Singing out the painful sparks within

JANIS JOPLIN: Singing out the painful sparks within

Of all those admitted to that illustrious pantheon of Dead Sixties Rock Stars, Janis Joplin has been the one least well served. Jimi is revered and regularly remarketed; and Jim has his... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Paul Bley: Play Blue (ECM/Ode)

Paul Bley: Play Blue (ECM/Ode)

It seems absurd to say it -- but others have -- that this solo concert in Oslo by pianist Paul Bley is a career highlight. Absurd, because at the time of this recording in 2008 he was 75.... > Read more

RADIO RADIO: Odd podcasts from Radio New Zealand's Concert Programme

RADIO RADIO: Odd podcasts from Radio New Zealand's Concert Programme

For many years now I have been contributing a 20 minute chat with music to Radio New Zealand's Upbeat segment on the Concert Programme. My brief has been broad, so broad that I might be best... > Read more