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Mick Taylor

Mick Taylor - Stranger in This Town - 1990 - MAZE AMERICA

A great blues album from the ridiculously underrated Mick Taylor. The guy's cv is incredible. He has played with John Mayall, The Rolling Stones, Alvin Lee, Bob Dylan...The list goes on and on. Amazingly, when people talk of the great rock and blues artists, Mick Taylor's name seldom comes up! The man is a legend, and on this album he pays a great compliment to artists like Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, and Willie Dixon with some very good cover versions. Some critics are of the opinion that the album lacks passion and fire, and that tracks like "Laundromat Blues " do not have the firepower of, for example Rory Gallagher's version. It is the opinion of A.O.O.F.C that Mick Taylor's cover is an excellent version of this blues classic, and again demonstrates the myriad ways in which the blues can be interpreted. Mick's version of "Red House" is also great. This album is H.R by A.O.O.F.C. Buy his "A Stone's Throw" album from 2000, and give another listen to " Exile on Main St."


Stranger in Town - Mick Taylor
I Wonder Why - Albert King
Laundromat Blues - Sandie Jones
Red House/Goin' Down Slow - Jimi Hendrix, James Burke Oden
Jumpin' Jack Flash - Mick Jagger, Keith Richards
Little Red Rooster - Willie Dixon, Chester Arthur Burnett
Goin' South - Mick Taylor
You Gotta Move - Mississippi Fred McDowell, Traditional


Mick Taylor (Guitar, Vocals)
Blondie Chaplin (Guitar)
Shane Fontayne (Guitar)
Max Middleton (Keyboards)
Joel Diamond (Keyboards)
Wilbur Bascomb, Jr. (Bass)
Eric Parker (Drums)


Mick Taylor's Stranger in This Town was recorded mostly in Sweden in the summer of 1989, except for "Little Red Rooster," recorded in Germany, and "You Gotta Move," the traditional blues number found on the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers, recorded in Philadelphia in December of 1989. This is a blues album, make no doubt about it, and it is one of Taylor's finest. Co-produced by the guitarist and Phil Colella, the performances feature former Jeff Beck sideman Max Middleton on keyboards, Shane Fontayne on guitar, Wilbur Bascomb on bass, and Eric Parker on drums. Only "You Gotta Move" has different musicians, Joel Diamond on keys and Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin on guitar. Keith Richard producer Rob Fraboni re-mixed the title track, as well as the almost six minute version of one of Taylor's favorite Stones tunes, "Jumpin' Jack Flash." It's the most rock & roll song here, Taylor's voice lending itself well to the song. Carol Bernson's photographs of the rock legend are something to behold; Taylor under a blue light performing with his shadow reflecting on the floor adorns the back of the CD, as well as the inside four-page booklet. The front cover has the journeyman with his guitar and a long, black coat, and there's an impressive black-and-white portrait inside the booklet. He performs Albert King's "I Wonder Why" and "Laundromat Blues," citing King in the liner notes as "a big influence, and a man who is wise and whom I respect and admire." He calls Jimi Hendrix a genius, genuine, and "the greatest guitar player who ever lived," and pays tribute to him with a superb version of "Red House," which is combined with James Oden's "Goin' Down Slow." The Santana feel that Taylor brought to "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" by the Stones lives again in his co-write "Goin' South," which, at ten minutes and 20 seconds, contains some of Taylor's finest guitar work on the record. Maze had a distribution deal with A&M in Canada when this was released in 1990, but the label didn't have the resources in this pre-Internet time to deliver such a beautiful album to a mass audience. If only Stranger in This Town was the album Mick Taylor released on Columbia when he first left the Rolling Stones. Were that the case, he would have had the opportunity to enjoy the popularity of a Buddy Guy or B.B. King, and the general public would have a better understanding of this superb and highly underrated artist. Musicians know, and all the evidence needed is on this disc. © Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

Mick is rumored to have said at one time that he considered this release to be a 'bootleg' because of financial issues relating to its release. Luckily for us, it came out, because it officially documents what Mick was doing in the late 1980's on tour in Europe and the eastern United States. A compilation of live tracks from club dates nicked off the soundboard, Stranger In This Town was an attempt to capture the energy of Mick's live performances while capitalizing to some extent upon his Stones past, for commercial purposes. For a number of years, this CD was easily available in record stores nationwide and served to keep Mick in the public eye. With some nice cover and liner photography by Carol Bernson, and pretty strong execution in the packaging department, finances notwithstanding I have always felt this CD favorably presented Mick to the public. Perhaps best of all, I am guessing that Mick was strongly encouraged to write a "Stonesy Rocker" for the title track, and accordingly we get the title tune -- Stranger In This Town. No Delta Blues here, Mick just mixes some unconsciously-remembered lyrics from Stones classics (Hide Your Love and Loving Cup), a story he must have known well playing one night stands around Europe and the Eastern U.S. and some open G-sounding chords invoking the best days of the Stones to come up with a rocker in the mold of Broken Hands, but harder charging. And the payoff! Mick solos to Stranger like he is back in the band, with the same frenzied build and release all in a minute-plus, through a wah-wah fog. I particularly enjoy that mid-Seventies liquidy-echo sound so prevalent in his crying notes on Goat's Head Soup. (Check out that crying note in the last half of the 48th second of the provided clip). I have listened to Stranger In This Town probably over one thousand times and I never, ever tire of Mick's near-vocal lead guitar lines. The version of Albert King's I Wonder Why is laid-back, in contrast to many others he played at the time. This song was made for Mick, the king of the fast Blues shuffle. Staying with Albert King, again in a mellow mood, Laundromat Blues makes more of an impact atmospherically than directly. I have heard versions of this that absolutely burn. My guess is that these versions of King's chestnuts were selected for reasons of their recording quality rather than their performance. Red House, a Hendrix classic and staple of many of Mick's live performances from the mid-80s through the mid-90s, is memorialized here, along with Mick's liner notes noting the performance is "[m]y tribute to the greatest guitar player who ever lived." I hate to repeat myself, but this particular version lacks the fire of many other of Mick's performances of it. There is a languid quality to the performance, emphasized by the fade out during a tinkling DX-3 keyboard solo. The song segues into Going Down Slow before the fadeout. If someone had told me in the late 70s that Mick Taylor would release a cover version of Jumping Jack Flash and sing lead vocal on it too, I wouldn't have believed it. I would have considered it an impossible dream. Again, I credit the guys at Maze Records for making this happen, for the obvious commercial and promotional possibilities. It just doesn't seem like a decision Mick would have made on his own. Now that I've heard it though, I'd rather it hadn't happened. The reason we want Mick to play Stones songs he used to play is to hear him solo to them. This version contains no guitar solo, and if there is one song Mick Jagger's vocals can't possibly be adequately covered on, it's JJF. While Taylor may have intended it as a tribute -- his liner notes indicate it's one of his favorite Stones songs -- third parties hearing it might come away with unflattering comparisons and questions about his motives. This is ironic, of course, because those of us who have followed Mick's post-Stones career closely know he has made yeoman efforts to avoid exploiting his Stones history, despite entreaties from virtually everyone around him in the industry and his fans. Only in a few cases have industry people been able to get him to do things that will yield some commercial angle. This track may have set the cause back a few years. While the fadeout to Jumping Jack Flash sounds like the album's finale, the action heats up from here on out. Little Red Rooster achieves what JJF doesn't -- it taps the Stones vibe, yet because it's a Howlin' Wolf track, it doesn't raise too many Stones alarms. The playing here is fiery and tasty, and foreshadows Mick's future development of other Blues standards, some with RS history, that would characterize the core of his live set list. Goin' South, a Taylor composition, features a blistering Taylor guitar sound and aggressive up-front keyboard playing by longtime Mick Taylor Band member Max Middleton. South American in feel, Goin' South is a favorite of Mick's, setting up a loose dance groove and plenty of space for band member solos. As a staple of his live shows for nearly 15 years, the song is either loved or hated by the faithful. While there may be room for a definitive version of Goin' South, this version isn't it. Again, it is faded mid-keyboard solo. There's a reason why there is no significant market for rock concerts by solo keyboard players, bass players and drummers, and Goin' South suffers as a song from free-form democracy. Well, it's my review so it's my prerogative to tell you that my favorite track on the CD, other than the title track, is You Gotta Move. Why? It was recorded at the Ambler Cabaret, in a sleepy suburb of Philadelphia. Mick played my neighborhood! Again, if you had told me that would happen while I was listening to my Stones "West German Tour 1973" bootlegs in the car as a teenager driving around in the 'burbs, I wouldn't have believed it. Unfortunately, Ambler missed it's chance at being immortalized, as the liner notes say "Philadelphia". But Nico Zentgraf's database captures the true venue, a fact that makes me very grateful. If nothing else, the version proves that Philly fans are the king of the "woo-hoo". All in all, Stranger In This Town is an absolute must-have for its title track. Plus, how can you not own a rare performance of Mick doing Jumping Jack Flash, no matter how odd it seems? The rest of the performances were subsequently polished up by Mick and done much better in subsequent years -- but the record is by no means weak because of this. For many years, this CD was the sole evidence to the world that Mick Taylor was alive and well and playing the Blues. For that we are thankful. [ Review is from http://mick.us/zstranger.html]


Guitarist Mick Taylor was neither an original member of the Rolling Stones nor still in the band when it began selling out sports stadiums in the late-'80s and '90s. But the sophisticated jazz- and blues-influenced guitar licks Taylor added to such classic albums as Sticky Fingers gave the Stones an added dimension they lacked before and after him. Michael Kevin Taylor was born Jan. 17, 1949, in Welwyn Garden City, England. He grew up in Hatfield, a London suburb, and began playing guitar at age 9. Taylor became interested in joining a rock band after his parents took him to see Bill Haley & the Comets. As a teen, Taylor played in bands called the Juniors and the Gods. In 1967, after ace guitarist Peter Green left John Mayall's Bluesbreakers to form Fleetwood Mac, Mayall chose Taylor as Green's replacement. Taylor toured the United States with the Bluesbreakers and appeared on such albums as Bare Wires and Blues From Laurel Canyon (both 1968). In 1969, he accepted the Rolling Stones' offer to replace the departing Brian Jones, who died later that year. The Stones had already established their reputation as one of rock's greatest bands and had just issued one of their best LPs, Beggar's Banquet (1968). But Taylor quickly added his imprint on the Stones' style and was present for the legendary concert tours, during their 1969–1974 heyday. He played on some of Let It Bleed (1969) and all of the live disc Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out (1970). Sticky Fingers (1971), was the first studio Stones' album for which he was present during the entire recording. He added his famous vibrato effect to the blues lead guitar line on "Sway" and handled most of the guitars on the quietly majestic "Moonlight Mile." Perhaps Taylor's best-remembered Stones work was the Santana-like lead guitar in the jam break of the jazzy "Can't You Hear Me Knocking." On the Stones' classic 1972 double LP, Exile on Main Street, Taylor co-wrote "Ventilator Blues" and contributed bluesy guitar to such chestnuts as "All Down the Line" and "Soul Survivor." Taylor plays wah-wah guitar on the hit single "(Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo) Heartbreaker," from Goats Head Soup (1973), which also exhibited Taylor's melodic touches on ballads such as "Winter." Taylor's final LP as a Rolling Stone was It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (1974), which included his long, jazzy solo on "Time Waits for No One" Shortly after the album's release, Taylor quit the Stones. Many theories have been offered for Taylor's departure, including conflict with guitarist Keith Richards and Taylor's fear that he'd get caught up in the band's allegedly drug-crazed lifestyle. Whatever the reason, Taylor's replacement, Ron Wood — formerly of the Faces — brought the band a grittier sound. In 1975, Taylor toured Europe in the Jack Bruce Band, led by former Cream bassist Bruce. Four years later, he issued an eponymous jazz-fusion solo debut that sold poorly in the punk-rock era. Taylor toured with the Alvin Lee Band in the early '80s and did a reunion tour with the Bluesbreakers. He played on Bob Dylan's Infidels (1983) and toured with the songwriting legend. During the latter part of the '80s, Taylor formed a series of short-lived bands that played blues-rock in eastern U.S. clubs. He issued the live Stranger in This Town and in 1989 was inducted, with the Stones, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the early '90s, Taylor went to L.A. and worked with the Textones' Carla Olson, the Jimmy Woods Band and others. In the second half of the '90s, he returned to England to play blues festivals with a touring band. In 1998, Taylor issued A Stones Throw and toured in 1999. To Be Continued .............. [ Bio is from http://www.micktaylor.net/Bio_aboutmt.html]

For a more detailed bio of this amazing guy, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mick_Taylor


Anonymous said...

This link is dead. Can you re-up please?
Thanks for your marvelous blog.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Anonymous. Thanks for comments/request. Expect new link in 2-3 days.

A.O.O.F.C said...