One Man Dog

James Taylor
and The Section

1 November 1972

Warner Bros LP K46185

Produced by Peter Asher
Engineers Peter Asher, Robert Appère, Phil Ramone

TRACK LIST

side oneside two
One Man Parade
(Taylor)
Woh, Don’t You Know
(Taylor, Kortchmar, Sklar)
Nobody But You
(Taylor)
One Morning In May
(P.D. – Arr Taylor)
Chili Dog
(Taylor)
Instrumental II
(Taylor)
Fool For You
(Taylor)
Someone
(John McLaughlin)
Instrumental 1
(Taylor)
Hymn
(Taylor)
New Tune
(Taylor)
Fanfare
(Taylor)
Back On The Street Again
(Kortchmar)
Little David
(Taylor)
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
(Taylor)
Mescalito
(Taylor)
Dance
(Taylor)
Jig
(Taylor)

MUSICIANS
Zoom to enlarge. Repeated under individual tracks.

Sleeve insert with original vinyl LPs, 1972

CHART

US Album #4 (US Year End Chart #72)
UK albums #27
Canada #7
Australia #13

James Taylor can do no wrong for me. As a live performer he ranks with the very best … Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Carole King, Jackson Browne, with an impeccable sound and always with a great band. He hasn’t done a “reviled” album for me. However, One Man Dog is third album syndrome, though as with The Band and Cahoots, it’s actually his fourth “real” album.

I suppose the Apple album, James Taylor is an anomaly. I’m not even counting James Taylor & The Original Flying Machine, as it’s like The Beatles with Tony Sheridan, earlier work. I can argue One Man Dog as the third album after his real break through with Sweet Baby James. It’s a classic problem, the first is new and fresh (Sweet Baby James). There’s enough material left at his creative peak to roll into Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon, but then the record company are knocking on the door for a third album, just as touring is heavy to capitalize on success.

That’s the ‘third album’ view, though astute critics, like Jon Landau, lavished it with praise and saw it as his best album up to that point. (For me, the two greatest James Taylor albums are Sweet Baby James and October Road).

The Apple album may reflect on it. It was said that he was trying to follow Abbey Road, by putting in fragments between songs on an album with eighteen tracks. Like Abbey Road, side one has separate songs. Side two starts to blend them into each other. Like Abbey Road, side two is better than side one.

The title

At one point it was One Man Parade, which contains the line about a One Man Dog.

James Taylor: I was thinking of two titles for the album, the first one was Farewell to Show Biz, which Carly and Peter Asher both didn’t like. We finally settled on One Man Dog; I thought of calling it Throw Yourself Away. I think it’s religious to throw yourself away. It’s interesting that a lot of religious phenomena involve really surrendering oneself.
Interviewed by Stuart Werbin, Rolling Stone 4 January 1973

The sleeve

Looking at the first three albums, a blue shirt links them, also the camera moves further out on each one … close up, waist up, full length. They fit as a coherent set of designs.

The cover shot was by Peter Simon, the brother of his new wife, Carly Simon.

Peter Simon: I asked James what his next album was going to be called. He said ‘One Man Dog.’ So I got him out on the pond with his dog, David, and I shot the picture from the shoreline. He wore the tie for a bizarre effect: the isolation of a man and his dog against the world, but subconsciously so.
Quoted in Timothy White Long Ago & Far Away: James Taylor: His Life And Music, 2001

The Section

From the sleeve of ‘The section’ Warner Bros US LP 1972

The backing band get their names on every single track, listed carefully. The album is also ‘James Taylor and The Section’ so there is a group identity. James Taylor’s work with guitarist Danny Kortchmar goes back to 1967 and The Flying Machine. Danny Korchmar (Danny Kootch), Leland Sklar and Russ Kunkel all played on Mudslide Slim & The Blue Horizon, with Carole King on piano. On One Man Dog, Craig Doerge replaced Carole King, and he had played on the preceding national tour. The addition of Craig Doerge started them using the name The Section, and they went on to make three instrumental albums under the name.

In the 1973 Rolling Stone interview the band get mentioned. At least James Taylor and Carly Simon made the cover of Rolling Stone just after the album’s release.

Rolling Stone #123, 4 January 1973

James Taylor: As far as my meandering through the music business, and also what music I was affected by, and what I learned, a lot of it came from Danny Kortchmar

James Taylor: Lee (Leland Sklar) is the bass player in my mind, he’s amazing, he is. A lot of bass players are frustrated guitarists. Someone who has been a guitarist and has turned to bass isn’t necessarily a good bass player. The name of the bass is quite apt. It’s the most important musical instrument on any track that I know of. I used to play the cello, that’s a sort of quasi-bass. Lee plays the bass like Caruso sings. There’s no way to analyze how he plays the bass. He just knows what the basis of the music is. He can hit it right on the head.

Carly Simon: Russell Kunkel is another person who’s important to both of us. If it wasn’t for Russell I wouldn’t have played The Troubadour and I wouldn’t have met James there … Russell was the first drummer that I ever played with, and the way it happened is that I said I wouldn’t play The Troubadour unless they could get me a drummer like Russell. I didn’t have any musicians with me; but I had the opportunity to play The Troubadour opening bill to Cat Stevens, so I said if you can get me a drummer as good as Russell, then I’ll think of doing it, and a day later they called back and said, “We got Russell.” Russell is like a saint, he’s made me feel so sure of myself.
James Taylor: Russell is an enigma, especially among drummers. He’s amazing.

There are two separately listed backing trios, the Taylors and then Carole King, Abigale Haness, Carly Simon. Abigale Haness had sung with Carole King as well as with Jo Mama. She married Danny Kortchmar, who also played with Jo Mama. A year earlier James Taylor, Carole King and Jo Mama had done an extensive tour together. You wouldn’t know that it was these three female stars though. Linda Ronstadt is the recognisable co-singer, on One Morning in May.

On Peter Asher:

James Tayor: Peter produces or directs differently from Richard Perry. He’s there more to help the artist get his thing out on tape. Peter’s not an accomplished musician. He is a musician from a certain point of view. He’s a vocalist, certainly, and he’s produced a lot of albums. He’s written songs before. I’ve never been produced by anyone but Peter. He’s very helpful, and he’s a fantastic organizer.

The Production

Peter Asher spoke on the release of the remastered Warner Bros albums by Rhino in 2019:

Peter Asher: The thing about that record was that James decided to record it in his house. It’s quite common now, and it’s quite easy now because you take a laptop and some mics and a few bits of wiring and you’re in. But then that was not the case, so it became quite a project. I consulted extensively with Phil Ramone, the genius all round … he was one who recommended what I should rent and take with me and so on. But I didn’t take an engineer. I decided how hard could it be? I was young. And bold. So with James’s road manager as my assistant, I engineered the half of the album we cut at James’s house. I set the band out upstairs in the top half. James’s house then was like a big barn. There was this big air vent running up between the floors, so we had all the cables running up the air vent. But downstairs we had a huge mixing board, giant speakers … and we recorded there. I think about half was recorded there, and the rest elsewhereI hear things on it that if I was recording the record now, in Pro-Tools, which it would be, there’s places where the kick (drum) and the bass aren’t together, or the snare and the handclaps aren’t together, and I’d go “Fix it,” and it would simply be fixed. You couldn’t do that then … and I’m kind of glad that we couldn’t.
Peter Asher, Rhino on-line interview, 9 August 2019

It wasn’t THAT unusual to record at home (not counting The Basement Tapes). It was how The Band, their second album, was recorded in the rented Sammy Davis’s pool house. If you look at the record sleeve, I fancy that Peter Asher has his ‘band upstairs’ / ‘mixing desk downstairs’ reversed in that interview. The mixing desk in the picture looks right under the roof, and the band appear to be on the ground floor.

There is a note on the album:

All vocals recorded at Clover Recorders.

Timothy White says that while the backing and a guide vocal were done at James Taylor’s house then at A&R in New York, the final lead vocal was overdubbed at Clover in Los Angeles.

James Taylor and books

I’ve done many in this series now, and James Taylor has a surprisingly low footprint for articles, interviews and books. Compare the shelves of Dylan and Beatles books, then the more than half a dozen good studies each of Leonard Cohen and Paul Simon. Yet until at least 2007, every one of Taylor’s albums sold a million. Tickets for tours in the UK sell out in minutes. He can fill Hyde Park. Audiences know every word of every song.

Why?

Yentikoff (head of CBS)’s concern was that Taylor would not co-operate with the media. Between 1973 and 1978, Taylor granted only one major interview, Stereo View magazine. Rolling Stone’s Peter Herbst commented, ‘He trusts only these things: playing music in front of an audience that asks only that he be himself; working with musicians he admires, writing songs, and most of all, being with his family.
Ian Halperin Fire and Rain. The James Taylor Story, 2001

There’s something else. James Taylor’s lyrics tend not to be enigmatic or full of hidden meanings – I count that as a virtue. There’s less room for pontificators like myself to argue over interpretations. They also add a subtle touch of humour.

Then the books that are out there, like Ian Halperin’s Fire and Rain, focus on biography rather than music, and biography at the prurient Albert Goldman sex and drugs level (see Goldman’s books on Presley and Lennon). Halperin devotes about three pages to Carly Simon’s previous lovers, much more to James Taylor’s addiction to heroin in the 1970s, but manages to cover One Man Dog in half a page, most of it taken up with the William Kuhlmann quote below. On Carly Simon he resorts to “a local” in Martha’s Vineyard speculating on her sex life, and on heroin to an ‘un-named band member.’

There is a good and lengthy 1980 interview by Timothy White who also wrote Long Ago and Far Away: James Taylor. It’s in White’s weighty tome Rock Lives (1990). It does not mention One Man Dog.

White says: Taylor remains a cryptic personality, a maddeningly shy man, surrounded by protective friends and relatives.

Taylor has mellowed. When I saw him in concert in 2014:

To my amazement, the band went off for twenty minutes, while James Taylor sat down on the edge of the stage and signed autographs non-stop for the entire interval. When the interval ended, he continued. The band came on, the lights went up and they started playing the instrumental backing to the first song. After a couple of minutes, Andrea Zorn and Kate Markowitz went and pulled him up, and he started singing Stretch On The Highway.

What the critics said

The first Rolling Stone Record Guide sums up reactions”
Sweet Baby James *****
Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon ***
One Man Dog **

Sweet Baby James (1970) holds up as a spare compelling musical statement. Mud Slide Slim (1971) reflects, often eloquently the confusion that followed success.
Stephen Holden Rolling Stone Record Guide 1980
No mention of One Man Dog, except the two stars.

Robert Christgau, who dislikes James Taylor in general, gave it C + and didn’t put the review in Rock Albums of The Seventies.

One Man Dog is so wispy that it almost evaporates. **
Mark Coleman / Ben Edmonds, New Rolling Stone Album Guide 2004

(It) wasn’t as well received as his previous work. Many of his fans say that it was one of his worst albums. It was 21 months since Taylor had released a record, and his manager Peter Asher was pressuring him to produce some fresh material. Taylor took a long time with One Man Dog because he was putting most of his energy into kicking heroin. He recorded the album in three different places … in an attempt to get motivated. He couldn’t concentrate. rumours flew that Taylor was forced to put out the album after Warner Bros head, Mo Ostin, and Peter Asher pleaded with him to finish it. They were afraid that his star was waning … the plan was for One Man Dog to sell on the virtue of Taylor’s previous hits. The majority of music critics were not amused. They heavily criticized the new album, and it flopped.
Ian Halperin Fire and Rain. The James Taylor Story, 2001

Flopped? Selling a million is a flop most musicians could endure.

What a let down! One Man Dog contained 18 tracks, some of them instrumentals, many of them running less than two minutes. A lot of it was sketchy and seemingly unfinished, and none of it had the impact of the best songs on the last two albums. It spawned  a Top 20 hit in “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” and it made the Top 10 and went gold itself largely on the momentum of Taylor’s career. But it disappointed fans, and in the 19 months it took him to record another album, Taylor was bypassed by the singer-songwriter movement, becoming more of an easy listening covers artist (his next hits were remakes of “Mockingbird” and “How Sweet It Is”).
William Kuhlmann, All Music Guide ** 1/2

Positive …

In the end, James Taylor’s search inevitably leads him inward, and to the extent that One Man Parade has a theme it is that each of us must find his own happiness because there is no external force or power that can provide us with it. He has stopped questioning and started dealing with his reality. In the process, he has created an album that exudes self-acceptance, exultation, celebration, and personal triumph not unlike (in spirit) Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey or Dylan’s inferior New MorningTaylor turns in his best singing performance, running through the songs with fire, force, and enthusiasm, the qualities most notable by their absence on earlier recordings… Taylor has never been prolific and on Mud Slide Slim he was forced to weave together a number of fragments and incomplete songs that ultimately gave the album greater force than any of its individual moments. One Man Dog follows that process to its conclusion as it sticks in the mind as a single entity, resisting initial efforts to break it down or categorize it in any particular way. In that sense it may be his best album, even though it lacks the high points of Sweet Baby James, just because it sustains the greatest degree of continuity.
Jon Landau, Rolling Stone, 18 January 1973

One Man Dog has a handsome but remote feel to it … The spell of the record was in its sequencing, its disparate cuts of lovesickness and the exigencies of emotional attachment meshed together in a truly natural way Taylor’s Apple album never achieved, with all its musical segues and ligaments flexing in deference to each other on the basis of rhythmic ease and forward flow.
Timothy White: Long Ago and Far Away: James Taylor His Life & Music, 2001

For the most part, One Man Dog was too eccentric to be commercialAlthough this album wasn’t one of Taylor’s biggest hits, its quirky nature made One Man Dog a powerful statement piece that continues to be a fan favorite.
ReBeat website

Peter Doggett in Record Collector #295 in March 2004 gave a star rating to James Taylor’s albums radically different to Rolling Stone:

Sweet Baby James *****
Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon ****
One Man Dog *****

James Taylor

Q: Where does One Man Dog fit in with your four albums?
James Taylor: I look at how hard it was by how much I had to write of it. On Mudslide Slim I think I wrote about a third of it after we started recording. My main beef is that I agree to a deadline on an album and go into a studio and start it before I’ve got all the material ready, and I won’t do it the next time. The next time I make an album, I will state no deadline. And there won’t be any pressure as to how much I have to write. “New Tune” on the album is premature. The tune that’s called “Nobody But You” would have been written. Those were all changes that were bubbling in my head. But they’re out now. They’re down. The process is to start off recording and then start grabbing for everything you can to get it down, and I’ve done this for two albums in a row now.
Stuart Werbin interview, Rolling Stone 4 January 1973

One Man Dog seems to me like such a smear of a record. It has that long succession of very short songs.
Peter Doggett interview, Record Collector #295, March 2004

Side one

One Man Parade
(James Taylor)
James Taylor- acoustic guitar, harmonica, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar, timbales
Russ Kunkel- congas
Peter Asher- guiro

James Taylor, Alex Taylor, Hugh Taylor, Kate Taylor – background vocals
Carole King, Abigale Haness, Carly Simon – background vocals

Recorded at James’s house by Peter Asher

James Taylor, One Man Parade: Canadian single, 1972

US chart #67

The second single A side in North America. In some European countries, it was the B-side of One Morning in May.

Peter Asher: I remember on that one, we did more takes than I’d ever done. It was recorded live. I think we did, like, a hundred takes over two days, some of which may have been false starts, but it was a very particular kind of groove. We wanted it to be really relaxed and slinky, and conga-ish and stuff.James also does some great little bits of lead guitar, which you almost never hear him do. Some little finger picking noodles.
Peter Asher, Rhino interview online, 9 August 2019

It’s indeed languid for an album opener with is dominant congas. The feel is Latin shuffle with guiro and timbales as well. The lines are about a one man parade dog. It was about his dog, David. Carly Simon describes how they returned from their wedding ceremony to find that the dog had got into the closet and chewed up all her shoes. Not a dog to celebrate for me.

He had been playing the song live for a year. The version we hear was recorded on a portable console at his home. M. Robowsky described it as the theme song for the album:

In the end, James Taylor’s search inevitably leads him inward, and to the extent that One Man Parade has a theme it is that each of us must find his own happiness because there is no external force or power that can provide us with it. He has stopped questioning and started dealing with his reality. In the process, he has created an album that exudes self-acceptance, exultation, celebration, and personal triumph not unlike (in spirit) Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey or Dylan’s inferior New Morning.
Jon Landau, Rolling Stone review 18 January 1973

(It explores) a wistful desire to waste time on the simplest pleasures, walking a dog, pouring rain, checking out an occasional garbage can.
M Robowsky, Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines, 2016

It got onto 2003;s compilation, The Best of James Taylor.

Nobody But You
(James Taylor)
James Taylor- electric guitars, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitars
Russ Kunkel- drums, congas
Craig Doerge- electric piano, acoustic piano

Recorded at Clover Recorders, Hollywood by Robert Appere

Everybody knows that I’m just a Joe that likes to hang around
Talking about my problems, bringing other people down
Well, this may be so, but not long ago I was sitting on top of the world
Sure is strange how things can turn themselves around

“I bet you think this song is about you”

James Taylor: Nobody But You” was also written in the past year too, but I had never thought to record that. We just sat down one night when we had a session and all the guys were in there and that night we did “Nobody But You” and “Fool For You,” both of which had never been played before. I don’t know where they would have ended up eventually, but when you put something down it finishes there. That’s it. The line “Nobody But You” is about Carly. The song itself isn’t about anything. That song is nonsense … I think I wrote “Someone Turned the Time On” or “Fanfare,” as it’s called on the present album, about Carly, or about Carly and myself.
Carly Simon:  How come I never knew that? Or did you think I would just figure it out?
James Taylor:  I guess I never really knew it either. I didn’t really think about it.
Carly Simon:Therein lies the truth.
James Taylor:  Honey, those songs weren’t even written until I was in the studio…
Carly Simon: I know.
James Taylor: “Nobody But You” … No one ever heard that song before I recorded it.
Carly Simon: I love that song. That’s my favorite song on James’ album
Stuart Werbin interview, Rolling Stone 4 January 1973

Chili Dog
(James Taylor)
James Taylor- acoustic guitar, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar
Russ Kunkel- drums, congas
Leland Sklar- bass
Craig Doerge- piano

Recorded at James’s house by Peter Asher

B-side of the UK single of One Morning in May.

Chili Dog: James Taylor, UK B-side of One Morning in May

It’s a novelty lyric:

Make my bed out of Wonder Bread, spread some mustard upon my head.
I don’t want no onions or sauerkraut, mamma, hold on to the bun baby, work it on out.

Fool For You
(James Taylor)
James Taylor- electric guitar, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar
Russ Kunkel- drums
Ms. Bobbye Hall- congas, tambourine
Leland Sklar- bass
Craig Doerge- electric piano
George Bohanon – trombone

Recorded at Clover Recorders, Hollywood by Robert Appere

Peter Asher: Fool For You is a great song,. Craig Doerge plays some great piano on all of that. And a percussionist. Ms Bobbye-Hall. She was terrific.
Peter Asher, Rhino on-line interview, 9 August 2019

The percussion gets focus with a break. So far in, the similarity of pace and tunes detracts from the individual songs.

Instrumental I
(James Taylor)
James Taylor- acoustic guitar,
Danny Kortchmar- acoustic guitar
Russ Kunkel- drums
Leland Sklar- bass

Recorded at Clover Recorders, Hollywood by Robert Appere

Rather stately, almost Elizabethan. It would fit beautifully into a Royal Shakespeare Company or Shakespeare’s Globe live performance.

New Tune
(James Taylor)
James Taylor- acoustic guitar
Russ Kunkel – congas, cabasa
Leland Sklar- bass
Craig Doerge- piano

Recorded at James’s house by Peter Asher

It’s said to be about Joni Mitchell. During her relationship with James Taylor, Joni attended concerts on the James Taylor / Carole King / Jo Mama tour. Carole King describes her sketching both Carole’s daughters backstage, and giving them the sketches. I hope they kept them.

Peter Doggett: : Can you expose too much? Like New Tune on One Man Dog. That sounds like something you should have been saying to one particular person?
James Taylor: Right, rather than broadcasting it to several millions. Actually, not that many people bought it. I suppose I just suspend my concern about it at the time., and then hope to deal with the personal consequences afterwards.
Record Collector #295, March 2004

Back On The Street Again
(Daniel Kortchmar)
James Taylor- acoustic guitar, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar, timbales
Russ Kunkel- congas
Leland Sklar- guitarone and bass
Craig Doerge- piano

Recorded at A&R Studios, New York by Phil Ramone

I don’t care if I got no money …

A popular lyrical sentiment from wealthy rock stars though Danny Kortchmar wrote it, not James..

Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
(James Taylor)
James Taylor- acoustic guitar, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar
Russ Kunkel- drums, congas
Leland Sklar- bass
Craig Doerge- piano
Michel Brecker- tenor saxophone

Recorded at James’s house by Peter Asher

Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight: James Taylor UK single 1972

US chart #14

The sleeve notes that while the song was recorded at James’s house, the saxophone solo was overdubbed, recorded in New York by Phil Ramone. So an addition supervised by Peter Asher, who says they had three to choose from , all of which were great.

Peter Asher: It’s pretty much a jazz solo, but we had a hit record nonetheless. We got past the jazz police somehow, and got that record on the radio.
Peter Asher, Rhino on-line interview, 9 August 2019

The only song that consistently makes it to his compilations.

Carly Simon: By sheer coincidence, James’s album One Man Dog and its lead single Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight had been released at approximately the same time as mine. Even though James’s album was doing extremely well, it wasn’t the monster of a hit that You’re So Vain was turning out to be. You would think I might have permitted myself a few hours, if not days, of satisfaction, or pride, but I couldn’t. I had a crush on the song Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, similar to the crush I had on James, and the only thing I remember thinking, I wish it were him not me.
Carly Simon, Boys In The Trees. 2015

That nice of the newly-married Carly, but You’re So Vain (US #1) is one of those singles that makes you reach out and turn up the radio whenever it comes on. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight is cool, languid cocktail lounge jazz, with a classic saxophone solo. It can’t compete.

Side two

Woh, Don’t You Know
(Taylor, Kortchmar / Sklar)

James Taylor- acoustic guitar, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- acoustic guitar
Russ Kunkel- drums & tambourine
Leland Sklar- bass
Craig Doerge- piano
James Taylor, Alex Taylor, Hugh Taylor – background vocals

Recorded at James’s house by Peter Asher

James Taylor: Woh, Don’t You Know, with Kootch and Lee Sklar, was surprisingly the only song I’ve written with Lee. He’s so gifted he could and does play with everyone you can think of but he’ll drop everything and move Heaven and earth to come out on the road with me as long as I give him a month’s notice or so. It’s not for the money; he’s just a solid solid guy. Happily I had a lot of solid people around me then.
Quoted in Timothy White: Long Ago and Far Away: James Taylor His Life & Music, 2001

Woh, Don’t You Know: James Taylor: UK single, B-side of Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight

One Morning in May
(Trad. Arranged Taylor)

James Taylor- acoustic guitar, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- acoustic guitar
Russ Kunkel- drums
Craig Doerge- piano
Linda Ronstadt – background vocal

Recorded at Clover Recorders, Hollywood by Robert Appere

One Morning in May: James Taylor German single, 1973

James Taylor gets a third of the way to making a compilation album of the months of the year … One Morning in May, On the 4th of July, September Grass, October Road. We could add Valentine’s Day for February and Sweet Baby James (The first of December was covered with snow…) or Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas for December, and he’s half the way there. Add Miss November … from Love Has Brought Me Around.

It was the A side of the single in the UK and in Germany. I believe Europe made a better choice for the second single – I much prefer it to One Man Parade. For me, it’s the best track on the album.

The song One Morning in May is far older, with the basic original being Soldier, Won’t You Marry Me, but this is the lyric from Carl Sandburg’s The American Songbag (1927) as put together by Jim Rooney and Bill Keith who were folkies on the Cambridge / Martha’s Vineyard circuit. Rooney found the waltz time, and wrote a new melody for Keith’s autoharp.

James Taylor sings it with Linda Ronstadt,

‘I love that version,’ Taylor said of the track, adding that the One Man Dog project ‘arrived in co-operative pieces.’ Since James was at times ‘walking on eggshells’ as Kootch (Danny Kortchmar) put it, because of the medicinal shock methadone had on his system, he was openly appreciative of the loving care his musician friends brought to the tiring One Man Dog Endeavour.
Timothy White, Long Ago and Far Away: James Taylor, 2011

In spite of the words and melody, you’d never think of it as ‘folk.’ Listening to it helps draw the line between ‘singer-songwriter’ and ‘folk singer.’

Instrumental II
(James Taylor)

James Taylor- acoustic guitar, bells, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar
Russ Kunkel- congas
Ms. Bobbye Hall- bongos, shakers, bells
Leland Sklar- bass
Craig Doerge – electric piano

Recorded at James’s house by Peter Asher

Gentle and mellow, it has a feel that I can only describe as Windham Hill, or perhaps like a CD to be found on the spinner between the crystals and incense in your local New Age shop.

Someone
(John McLaughlin)

James Taylor- Gibson acoustic guitar
Danny Kortchmar- Martin acoustic guitar
John McLaughlin – Mark Whitebook acoustic guitar
Leland Sklar- Earthbound guitarone
Craig Doerge – piano

Recorded at Clover Recorders, Hollywood by Robert Appere

John McLaughlin’s guitar is the centre of the song, but the meandering melody is just ‘wet.’ At Least James Taylor didn’t write it, but it would be much better without the vocal. Surprising brand name placement on the guitar credits. Try the lyric:

I’m searching for someone who’ll be true
Who’ll change my life of blue
Into a dream of golden rainbows
Where are you?

I find it excruciatingly awful (and the bass impresses me more than the guitars). Easily the worst track on the album.

Hymn
(James Taylor)

James Taylor- vocal
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar
Russ Kunkel- drums
Leland Sklar- bass
Barry Rogers- trombone
Art Baron – bass trombone
Randy Brecker- piccolo trumpet, trumpet, flugel horn
Michael Brecker- tenor and soprano saxophones

Recorded at A&R Studios, New York by Phil Ramone

And then we finally get down to business with the album’s ten-minute song cycle that begins with the record’s best single tune, “Hymn” (“As a man and a woman stand alone in the light/Give us reason to be, like the sun on the sea”) and moves through “Fanfare,” with its picture of industry gone mad and its conclusion that “… as far as I can see, that doesn’t apply to you and me … we are living in the deep blue sea.”
Jon Landau, Rolling Stone 18 January 1973

The album really does look up at this point, and the addition of horns at the halfway mark is crucial. They reprise the melody line for a verse, then back to James Taylor with horns coming in.

Fanfare
(James Taylor)

James Taylor- electric guitar, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar
Craig Doerge- piano
Russ Kunkel- drums
Leland Sklar- bass
Barry Rogers- trombone
Art Baron – bass trombone
Randy Brecker- trumpet
Michael Brecker- tenor saxophone
Abigale Haness, Carole King- background vocals

Recorded at A&R Studios, New York by Phil Ramone

This follows right on, starting with a … well, fanfare … from the horns. It’s rocker at the start too. The horns punch it out. Lovely electric guitar figure twining with saxophone at the end.

Little David
(James Taylor)

James Taylor – acoustic guitar, chain saw, hammer, 4 x 8, vocal
Mark Peletier- cross cut saw
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar
Craig Doerge- electric piano
Russ Kunkel- drums
Leland Sklar- bass

Recorded at James’s house by Peter Asher

Mark Peletier was a carpenter working on James’s house.

1 minute 2 seconds long. Very unusual, starting with those saws to a beat. Then it’s gospelly. Had he been listening to Daniel & The Sacred Harp by The Band.

Little David, play on your harp, hallelu, hallelujah, little David,

Mescalito
(James Taylor)

James Taylor- acoustic guitar, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar
Russ Kunkel- drums, congas
Leland Sklar- bass
Craig Doerge- piano
Abigale Haness,, Carole King, James Taylor- background vocals

Recorded at James’s house by Peter Asher

A snippet. All 29 seconds of it. There’s no break from Little David.

Mescalito has opened up my eyes …

Notice the disclaimer on the track list:

That’s about it.

Dance
(James Taylor)

James Taylor- acoustic guitar, vocal
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar
Russ Kunkel- drums, congas
Leland Sklar- bass, guitarone
Dash Crofts – mandolin
John Hartford – fiddle, banjo
Red Rhodes – pedal steel guitar

Recorded at A&R Studios, New York by Phil Ramone

Leland Sklar’s bass rolls on from the previous song. Dash Crofts (Seals and Crofts), singer-songwriter John Hartford, and Red Rhodes add a C &W feel for another superior track. It has the line Throw Myself Away which was originally considered to be a title for the album.

And then there is his vision of two people, finally brought together, in the unforgettable line, “It looks like you and me, baby, dancing by the shining sea.” He ends by offering us his invocation, “Come on baby while the moon is high/Pick up your heels and dance …” and then later, “Pick ’em up and put ’em back down, and around and around and around.” It’s all there, the earth and ocean, night and day, sun and moon, the opening eyes and the dancing feet. And it will hit you from behind because on the surface it all sounds so simple, and yet underneath the horns — so dazzlingly arranged — and the beautiful rhythm, the voice and the thoughts resonate long after the record is over.
Jon Landau, Rolling Stone review 18 January 1973

Jig
(James Taylor)

James Taylor- acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Danny Kortchmar- electric guitar
Russ Kunkel- drums, congas
Leland Sklar- bass
Craig Doerge- piano
Red Rhodes – pedal steel guitar
Ms Bobbye Hall- percussion
Art Baron – bass trombone
Barry Rogers – trombone
Randy Brecker- trumpet
Michael Brecker- flute

Recorded at A&R Studios, New York by Phil Ramone

Only 1 minute 15 seconds. It’s instrumental fun, with the trombones being the best part. I like it. I don’t know if it’s a jig technically (it means in 6/8 time) because its medium pace doesn’t fit ‘quick and lively’ which is part of the definition, but like Instrumental 1 might be good in a production of an Elizabethan or Jacobean play.

Overall

Side one is too laid back and samey. Side two is much the better side. I knew that back in 1972 and it hasn’t changed. James Taylor has the ability to twang the emotions on songs like Fire And Rain, Enough To Be On Your Way and Jump Up Behind Me, but nothing here twangs that chord for me. It is a lesser album in his catalogue, though note that astute critics like Jon Landau and Peter Doggett rated it very highly indeed.

Back in early 1973, when I first had the album, it lost plays to J.J. Cale’s Really and the previous Naturally in the laid back listening stakes. Now, fifty years later, the relaxed jazzy tinge has not grown in appeal. I think Norah Jones, Rumer or Barb Jungr could successfully revive Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, and it would waft gently from restaurant speakers. It’s an unexciting album overall. His first Warner album had Fire & Rain, the second had You’ve Got A Friend. Nothing on here is as strong. A bonus for me was re-listening to Mud Slide Slim to compare. I found it a far better album than this.

For me, ***

REVIEWS OF JAMES TAYLOR LIVE

THE REVILED ALBUMS ARE (so far) …

Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. – Simon & Garfunkel
Beatles For Sale – The Beatles
Their Satanic Majesties Request … The Rolling Stones
Speedway (and Elvis film music) – Elvis Presley
Electric Mud– Muddy Waters
3614 Jackson Highway – Cher (plus the bonus tracks)
Let It Be – The Beatles
Self Portrait – Bob Dylan
Byrdmaniax – The Byrds
Cahoots – The Band
Carl and The Passions- So Tough! – The Beach Boys
The London Chuck Berry Sessions – Chuck Berry
Wild Life – Wings
Sometime in New York City – John and Yoko / Elephant’s Memory
Recall The Beginning: A Journey From Eden … The Steve Miller Band
Hard Nose The Highway … Van Morrison
Chicago III … Chicago
Berlin– Lou Reed
Pinups – David Bowie
There’s One In Every Crowd – Eric Clapton
I Want You – Marvin Gaye
Love At The Greek – Neil Diamond
Death of A Ladies’ Man – Leonard Cohen
Shakedown Street – The Grateful Dead
Born Again – Randy Newman
Mingus – Joni Mitchell
One Trick Pony – Paul Simon
Everybody’s Rockin’ – Neil Young  
American Dream – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Jefferson Airplane – Jefferson Airplane (1989)
Human Touch – Bruce Springsteen
Latest Record Project Volume1… Van Morrison

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