Don't even bother to read the rest of this review without picking up a copy of Otis Taylor's, "White African." It's that good. This is the Real Blues with a capital R and a capital B, as intense and moving a CD as I've heard in a long time. The power and emotion that is conveyed through these songs is frightening. There is nothing superficial about the music burned into this CD. The subject matter is as deep as the social ills that divide the country and Otis conveys his message as if attacking evil itself. His hypnotic rhythms and hard-driving intensity pulse with feeling and emotion. His vivid descriptions of murder, sickness, dying, bigotry, hunger, alcohol, love, and loss of love are insightful moving statements about the past and present.
Using a variety of instruments, Otis documents his dark truths with mesmerizing ability. He flails on his own special edition electric banjocaster like a guitar and fingerpicks his guitar with the drive of a North Mississippi bluesman. His powerful voice strikes a deep nerve and his driving harmonica pulses with the style of an old country harpist. Even his subjectively lighter material drive with intensity and feeling never achieved on a pop blues album. Otis is, simply put, "The Real Deal."
The sound quality is excellent and if you listen close, you will hear many subtleties added to the recording. "White African" was produced and arranged by Kenny Passarelli, engineered by Mark Derryberry, and recorded at Fanfare Studios in Golden Colorado. Tim Stroh at the Stepbridge Studios in Santa Fe, New Mexico mixed the album. In addition to producing and arranging the CD, Kenny Passarelli also plays the bass and keyboard. Eddie Turner handles the lead guitar duties on several tracks and Cassie Taylor lends her voice to a pair of songs.
Otis Taylor currently resides in Denver CO. and is a mentor/instructor for Ottawa's 2001 "Blues in the Schools Project." In the summer of 2000, he was awarded a fellowship to the "Sundance Institute Music Composers Laboratory." On an interesting side note, Otis was a member of the "T&O Short Line with the late great, Tommy Bolin in the late 60's. (Among other LP's, Tommy recorded the classic albums "Private Eyes," and "Teaser.") Previous Otis Taylor albums include, "Blue Eyed Monster," and "When Negroes Walked the Earth."
Otis Taylor's "White African" is a compelling and historically significant CD that should be held up as an example of what a blues recording can be. While much of the subject matter deals with distressing situations, the truth needs to be discussed, and never forgotten. On this tour de force, Otis delivers his message into another realm of thought provoking Blues. This is not a CD for the superficial or blues-lite fan. His intense and often true tales are so vivid and dark they will paint themselves onto your subconscious and infiltrate your dreams. After this year, advertisement for Otis Taylor's "White African" should begin, "Winner of the (fill in a couple of names) Awards."
NorthernBlues Music Inc.
67 Mowat Ave. Suite 233
Toronto ON M6K 3E3 Canada
Phone: 866.540.0003 Fax: 416.536.1494
HoopLA Media & Public Relations
Los Angeles, CA. represent Otis Taylor,
Contact Brian Yaeger for more information:
Phone 323.852-9444, E-mail:
This review is copyright © 2001 by Stephen T Davidson, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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