It’s 10:00pm at night and the girls have gone to bed. I’m not really tired yet (although I should be) so I’m going to plow through a few more pages of my book with one last record to wrap up “Vinyl Sunday” and that record is the debut self-titled album by Taj Mahal.
On this self-titled 1968 debut, he not only honors the sound of the Delta masters with his driving National steel guitar and hard vocal shout, but ladles in elements of rock and country with the help of guitarists Ry Cooder and the late Jessie Ed Davis. In fact, Taj Mahal calls his band “a son of a Texas sharecropper, a Hungarian Jew, a wild-eyed Irishman, and a crazy Swamp Spade!”
How’s that for a marque?
Technically though, this isn’t Taj’s first album but it’s the first album that most music fans heard Taj Mahal on. Both ‘Giant Step‘ and ‘De Ole Folks at Home‘ were released earlier and combined into a second release after the success of this self titled album.
Besides being a complete hallmark of blues in it’s own right, the real folklore is that this was the album that might have just, maybe, influenced the sound of Southern Rock later to come. After falling off a horse, Muscle Shoals session guitarist Duane Allman is laid up with an elbow injury that more or less ended his career as a guitarist. Enter his brother Gregg and a bottle of Coricidin. After hearing Davis’ slide work on ‘Statesboro Blues‘ (originally a Blind Willie McTell tune), young Duane is inspired to dump out the drugs and use the Coricidin bottle as a slide instead and, voila!, that infamous southern rock sound is born and later perfected with the Allman Brothers.
I even think it’s helped loosen up my poor back muscles as well.
Thank you, Taj Mahal!
And, yeah, it has birds on it too.