Otis Taylor is one of the most creative and unique blues artists performing today. It seems that a number of years ago, Taylor's music was so unique that he was unable to work get a record deal that gelled with his unique sound. In 1977 Taylor dropped out of the music business until he was pressed back into service by his musical mentor, bass player Kenny Pasarelli, in 1989. His first recording after his return was entitled Blue Eyed Monster, which was followed in 1997 by his critically acclaimed When Negroes Walked The Earth.
In 2001, the 53 year old singer/songwriter inked a deal with Northernblues Music, a new Canadian blues label. With the release of White African, Taylor was transformed from a relatively obscure blues player to a musician who was on everyone's list. White African has been nominated for four W.C. Handy Awards including Blues Album of the Year, Acoustic Blues Album of the Year, Song of the Year (My Soul's In Louisiana) and Best New Artist Debut. Taylor has definitely become a man in demand.
Taylor's latest release on Northernblues Music is Respect The Dead, a CD that includes some of the freshest, most creative music that I have heard this year. The all original music on Respect The Dead offers elements of blues, folk and African music, combined with some very deep, introspective and historical lyrics that are guaranteed to make people think. All thirteen songs are extremely well done and leave the melodies humming in your head long after the CD has stopped playing.
Respect The Dead opens with "Ten Million Slaves," a song that includes a creative sound made even better by the rare use of an electric and acoustic banjo, credited to a musician named Ome. The song reflects on the transportation of slaves to America 200 years ago. "Ten Million Slaves" is followed by the hypnotic sound of "Hands On Your Stomach," a song that talks about people's dreams and fantasies as an escape from the harsh reality of life.
The music continues with "32nd Time," one of my favorite songs on Respect The Dead. The song talks about the "freedom fighters" who came from the northern states to the south to assist in implementing voting rights for southern blacks. Taylor extends the significance of this movement (and the tragic loss of life for some) to other attempts to assert personal freedoms at places like Wounded Knee, South Dakota and Tiananmen Square.
"Black Witch" is another very interesting song that explores another unfortunate aspect of cultural history during the slave period when a white man could come into a black neighborhood and take a black woman as his mistress at his discretion. The song offers an interesting twist when the woman taken as the mistress turns out to be an evil black witch. "Black Witch" is followed by "Seven Hours of Light," an emotion-packed song that Taylor explains as being about "when depression goes beyond the blues." The song is very raw and sparse with Taylor performing solo on guitar and vocals that just reek of depression.
Respect The Dead ends with "Just Live Your Life," easily the song with the most self-explanatory title, about making the most of your short life by doing what you feel in your heart. It is a fitting end to a recording that seems to reflect Taylor's success at playing what is in his heart and not to the dictates of the music "business." Personally, I am looking forward to his next revelation of what is in his heart through his music.
If you want to learn more about Otis Taylor and/or his recordings, including Respect The Dead, visit the Northernblues Music website at www.northernblues.com.
NorthernBlues Music, Inc.
225 Sterling Road, Unit 19, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6R 2B2
Web : www.northernblues.com
Simply click on the CD cover at left to order this CD NOW!
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