A trio of albums from Taj Mahal – and some unreleased live tracks as well! First up is Music
Fuh Yah – a sweetly soulful set that has Taj Mahal really trying on some new flavors – yet still keeping things strongly in the bluesy territory of his roots! In addition to the lead vocals and lots of acoustic guitar, the set also features key contributions from Rudy Costa on a range of saxes, plus flute and kalimba too – plus other unusual elements that include steel drums, timbales, and banjo – all of which inflect different moments with freshly playful sounds, and a surprisingly Caribbean vibe at times. Titles include "You Got It", "Sailin", "Truck Driver's Two Step", "Curry", and "The Four Mills Brothers". Brothers is one of the better records that Taj Mahal cut during in the later 70s – probably because it was a soundtrack, and pushed the groove into some interesting places – with Taj's gruff vocals working over some Caribbean rhythms and modern blues, and more smoothed out moments! The latter moments actually creep near or even cross over the line into kind of a fusiony soul feel, with the tightly thumping electric bass and rolling sax, but Taj keeps the overall vibe as uncommonly diverse as his other records for Columbia. Tracks include "Malcolm's Song", "David & Angela", "Night Rider", "Brother's Doin Time", "Free The Brothers", "Love Theme In The Key Of D", and "Funky Butt". Evolution is a well-titled set – given that the record really shows an evolution in the style of Taj Mahal! Some cuts are still in an older bluesy mode, but a few others feature some great backings from Leon Pendarvis – who creates this fuller, soaring sort of style that takes off with plenty of power! The approach is a great way to use Taj's vocals in a richer 70s soul setting – and those cuts are balanced by some more stripped-down numbers that include a few that follow in the recent Mahal use of steel drums. Titles include "Sing A Happy Song", "Lowdown Showdown", "Why You Do Me This Way", "Highnite", and "Salsa De Laventille". 2CD set also features 7 bonus live tracks recorded in Chicago in 1977 – but not issued at the time!