Album no. 201/1001
Despite the album title, James Taylor is not a baby, nor is he ‘sweet’.
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: I have never heard of this ‘James Taylor’ character.
NK: I know a couple of tracks, but thankfully I’ve never gotten to a point in my life where I thought James Taylor was the answer.
CL: Oh no.
CL: For about the first 7 seconds of the opener a part of me still had some hope. It sounded like a nice, gentle acoustic number – almost like Bert Jansch – AND THEN THE OPENING LINE.
“There is a young cowboy he lives on the range. His horse and his cattle are his only companions. He works in the saddle and sleeps in the canyons.”
AND THEN THE SLIDE GUITAR. This has not been a good start.
NK: The title track is almost good, the chorus has some good lines and the second verse is good, but it doesn’t go anywhere. And that’s one of the better tracks! ‘Lo and Behold’ is unbearable, for example, and ‘Steamroller’ is not the best blues number we’ve come across on this project. Urgh. If you thought Rod Stewart and Van Morrison were easy listening, STRAP YOURSELF IN.
CL: Luckily the slide guitar disappears for a while. ‘Sunny Skies’ is quite good – sort of puts me in mind of ‘Punky’s Dilemma’ by Simon and Garfunkel – but not as good, obviously.
NK: ‘Fire and Rain’ is pretty comfortably the best track here. It’s a bit darker than most of the album, talking about the failure of his previous band, his issues with heroin and the suicide of a good friend while he was away recording his first album. Also Carole King plays piano on it, so that’s nice. I am not crazy about this album. At least ‘Fire and Rain’ seems to be about something.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
CL: If you like the easy-listening vibes, I spose you’ll possibly maybe enjoy this? Look, go in with low expectations.
NK: What’s the vibe of this album? It’s sort of upbeat overall? I don’t know, I didn’t go for this. It’s super middle of the road, with nothing interesting happening musically. I guess if you feel like you can’t handle Bridge Over Troubled Water, this has some vague similarities without any of the parts that bring you to tears. Hard to recommend this if I’m honest.
Why has this album been included on the list?
CL: How do I do the shrug emoji? Because…shrug.
NK: I didn’t know much about James Taylor, except that I didn’t fancy him much. One time his dad had to fly to New York on a rescue mission after James had spent all his money on drugs. After that he was in rehab for six months and needed surgery to repair his vocal chords. Good old parents, always bailing their idiot kids out. Why is this on the list? Because it sold about a bajillion copies. Guess what folks, that doesn’t make it good.
Will you be listening again?
CL: Probably not, apart from ‘Sunny Skies’ – I still quite like that song.
Listen to Sweet Baby James on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.