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Happy Just to Be Like I Am

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Taj Mahal had mapped out a unique vision of country blues and its ethnographic sources on his first three albums, and his fourth LP, Happy Just to Be Like I Am, continued in a similar vein while broadening his scope at the same time. Anyone who delivers an arrangement of "Oh Susanna" that marries a hard-boogeying rhythm section with a fife as lead instrument is clearly not aiming for a purist's approach to the blues, and Mahal was willing to bring a bit more contemporary rhythm & blues into his formula here, with the title track boasting the kind of groove and melodic lift that should have earned it a place on the radio through the fact a tuba accompanies an electric ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Taj Mahal had mapped out a unique vision of country blues and its ethnographic sources on his first three albums, and his fourth LP, Happy Just to Be Like I Am, continued in a similar vein while broadening his scope at the same time. Anyone who delivers an arrangement of "Oh Susanna" that marries a hard-boogeying rhythm section with a fife as lead instrument is clearly not aiming for a purist's approach to the blues, and Mahal was willing to bring a bit more contemporary rhythm & blues into his formula here, with the title track boasting the kind of groove and melodic lift that should have earned it a place on the radio through the fact a tuba accompanies an electric bass in the bottom end might have puzzled a few programmers, and "Chevrolet" bubbling with potent, organic funk. But Mahal was and is far too enamored of eclecticism to make an entire album that follows a single direction, and the steel drum reverie of "West Indian Revelation," the mixture of African percussion and steel guitar on "Black Spirit Boogie," and the acoustic blues with tuned cowbells on "Eighteen Hammers" are all the work of a man eager to twist his music into a variety of different forms. While Mahal's vision grew broader on Happy Just to Be Like I Am, the album didn't have quite the same focus as his previous sets, and the parts don't cohere into a whole that's as satisfying as his earlier work. But the best songs are impressive, Mahal's collaborators are stellar including Jesse Ed Davis, John Simon, and Kwasi "Rocky" DziDzornu, and every track is filled with a palpable joy; it's a fine collection from one the most cheerful iconoclasts of the blues.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/21/2009
  • Label: Hi Horse Records
  • UPC: 725543241610
  • Catalog Number: 30767

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Taj Mahal Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Banjo, Flute, Guitar, Harmonica, Mandolin, Fife, Electric Guitar, Steel Guitar, Vocals, Human Whistle, 12-string Guitar, Penny Whistle
Andy Narell Steel Drums
Bob Stewart Tuba, Flugelhorn
Howard Johnson Tuba, Baritone Saxophone
Jesse Ed Davis Electric Guitar
John Simon Piano, Electric Piano
David Coleman Guitar
Joseph Daley Trombone, Tuba
Kwasi "Rocky" Dzidzornu Percussion, Conga, Bells
Earl McIntyre Trombone, Tuba, Bass Trombone
James Charles Otey Drums
Billy Rich Bass
Hoshal Wright Guitar, Electric Guitar
Young Track Performer
Bill Rich Bass
Jessie Davis Electric Guitar
Technical Credits
Taj Mahal Arranger, Producer, Adaptation
Howard Johnson Arranger, Orchestration
Gus Cannon Composer
David Brown Engineer
Fred Catero Engineer
George Engfer Engineer
Mark Freedman Engineer
Glen Kolotkin Engineer
Mike Larner Engineer
David Porow Engineer
David Rubinson Producer
Snooky Young Composer
George Engler Engineer
Traditional Composer
Mark Friedman Engineer
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