Best of James Taylor [2003]

Best of James Taylor [2003]

4.8 10
by James Taylor

With James Taylor's 2000 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this updated Best of James Taylor takes on new resonance. Superceding 1976's multi-platinum Greatest Hits package, this 20-song anthology compiles the dozen songs featured on its Warner Bros. predecessor alongside post-Warners material, including oneSee more details below

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With James Taylor's 2000 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this updated Best of James Taylor takes on new resonance. Superceding 1976's multi-platinum Greatest Hits package, this 20-song anthology compiles the dozen songs featured on its Warner Bros. predecessor alongside post-Warners material, including one new song, the twangy, mid-tempo cut "Bittersweet." JT's sweetly melancholy songs and voice made him one of the best-loved singer-songwriters of the '70s, and his hits -- including "Fire and Rain," "Carolina in My Mind," and "Shower the People" -- have proven both monumentally influential and timeless in their appeal. Ironically, some of Taylor's biggest hits have been cover tunes, ranging from his chart-topping 1971 interpretation of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" to later Top 5 successes such as a gently rocking version of the Motown hit "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" and his Grammy-winning, harmony-soaked reading of Jimmy James's "Handy Man." Although Taylor's post-'70s work is represented only by "Bittersweet" and 1985's "Only a Dream in Rio," with its Portuguese harmonies and airy keyboard arrangements, and there's nothing from his platinum-certified 2002 disc, October Road, The Best of James Taylor still offers an essential career encapsulation from one of pop music's most revered artists.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
To compile a comprehensive one-disc best-of James Taylor album is a daunting task in and of itself. To compile it from material from three labels is a gutsy thing for David McLees and Warner Bros. to do and expect to make fans -- let alone pompous critics (no exception here) -- happy. Over 20 tracks, Warner has succeeded -- with full cooperation from Taylor, who wrote the liner notes -- in giving an accurate representation of the songwriter, who has survived and even flourished for over 35 years in the music biz. More importantly, they've displayed the great range of the artist as a songwriter of purpose, humanity, and empathy, an artist who has never placed himself above his audience. The album kicks off with "Something in the Way She Moves" from his only release for the Beatles' Apple imprint, and moves to the Warner material that covers the years 1969-1976, many would argue his greatest years. It's strange how songs like "Fire and Rain," "Country Road" (the 45 version), "Mexico," "Walking Man," and "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" do not seem to age; they feel as immediate and relevant in the 21st century as they did in the 1970s. And who can forget Taylor's version of "You've Got a Friend," with the searing backing vocal from Joni Mitchell? The producers also chose for inclusion here the 1976 version of "Carolina on My Mind" and the live take of "Steamroller" from the first Taylor Warner hits compilation in 1976 -- it's now the only way to get these tracks. From the Columbia years there are only five tracks. Two from JT ("Handy Man" and "Your Smiling Face"), his unforgettable read of the Goffin/King classic "Up on the Roof" from Flag, and "Only a Dream in Rio" from That's Why I'm Here. Some would argue with this one as opposed to something from Hourglass, but it's a small, nearly insignificant complaint. There is also a new recording here, "Bittersweet," finished just before release with Taylor's new band, that is a nice icing on the cake, but, to be a critic about the whole thing, this writer would have preferred they include "Anywhere Like Heaven" from Sweet Baby James instead -- another miniscule complaint. This is one of the most accurate and representative best-of packages to come down the line in a long time.

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Product Details

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Related Subjects


  1. Something in the Way She Moves
  2. Sweet Baby James
  3. Fire and Rain  - James Taylor
  4. Country Road
  5. You've Got a Friend  - James Taylor
  6. You Can Close Your Eyes  - James Taylor
  7. Long Ago and Far Away  - James Taylor
  8. Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight  - James Taylor
  9. Walking Man  - James Taylor
  10. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)  - James Taylor
  11. Mexico  - James Taylor
  12. Shower the People  - James Taylor
  13. Golden Moments  - James Taylor
  14. Steamroller Blues  - James Taylor
  15. Carolina in My Mind
  16. Handy Man  - James Taylor
  17. Your Smiling Face  - James Taylor
  18. Up on the Roof  - James Taylor
  19. Only a Dream in Rio
  20. Bittersweet  - James Taylor

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

James Taylor   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Carole King   Piano
Joni Mitchell   Background Vocals
Graham Nash   Vocal Harmony
Carly Simon   Vocal Harmony
Michael Brecker   Tenor Saxophone
Victor Feldman   Vibes,Orchestra Bells
David Sanborn   Saxophone
Andrew Gold   Harmonium,Background Vocals
Leah Kunkel   Background Vocals
Ralph MacDonald   Percussion
Red Rhodes   Steel Guitar
Jim Keltner   Drums
Airto Moreira   Percussion
Bobbye Hall   Triangle
Kenny Ascher   Electric Piano
Peter Asher   Tambourine,Cabasa
Byron Berline   Fiddle
Randy Brecker   Vocals
David Campbell   Conductor
David Crosby   Vocal Harmony
Nick DeCaro   Hornorgan,Voice Organ
Craig Doerge   Piano
Dan Dugmore   Steel Guitar
Milt Holland   Percussion
Curtis King   Vocals
Danny Kortchmar   Acoustic Guitar,Conga,Electric Guitar
Russ Kunkel   Percussion,Conga,Drums,Tambourine,Shaker,Cabasa
Tony Levin   Bass
John London   Bass
Clarence McDonald   Piano,Keyboards,fender rhodes,Hornorgan
Arif Mardin   Conductor
Rick Marotta   Drums
Andy Muson   Bass
Bill Payne   Keyboards
John Sheldon   Guitar
David Spinozza   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Willie Weeks   Bass
Zbeto   Vocals
Gayle Levant   Harp
Waddy Wachtel   Electric Guitar
Elaine Eliaf   Vocals
Kenia Gould   Vocals
Leland Sklar   Bass
Bobby West   Double Bass
Clifford Carter   Keyboards
Steve Jordan   Drums

Technical Credits

Carole King   Composer
James Taylor   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Liner Notes
Gerry Goffin   Composer
Otis Blackwell   Composer
Robert Appere   Engineer
Peter Asher   Producer,Engineer
Niko Bolas   Engineer
Hugh Brown   Art Direction
David Campbell   String Arrangements
Nick DeCaro   String Arrangements
Lamont Dozier   Composer
Frank Filipetti   Producer,Engineer
Val Garay   Engineer
Lee Herschberg   Engineer
Eddie Holland   Composer
Brian Holland   Composer
Jimmy Jones   Composer
Danny Kortchmar   Producer
Donn Landee   Engineer
Bill Lazerus   Engineer
Arif Mardin   String Arrangements
Harry Maslin   Engineer
Richard Sanford Orshoff   Engineer
Gary Peterson   Discographical Annotation
Phil Ramone   Engineer
Barry Sheffield   Engineer
John Sheldon   Composer
David Spinozza   Arranger,Producer
Russ Titelman   Producer
Malcolm Toft   Engineer
Lenny Waronker   Producer
Maria Villar   Art Direction
Jimmy "Handy Man" Jones   Composer
Andrew Brucker   Cover Photo
J. Maraniss   translation
Charles Merenstein   Composer

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