Thursday, 30 December 2010

In Appreciation Of .... Lewis Taylor

The wonderful Mr Taylor came into my life in 1996 following some great reviews of his debut solo album citing Marvin Gaye, Neo soul, layered harmonies, etc etc.  How would I resist such praise.  The debut self titled album is a set to be worked at but once you hook into the sounds and the feel that this guy produces (much of it with him playing everything) it is sublime. "Lucky" the lead track and released as a single is a good intro but by the time you get to "Bittersweet" with it's slow build and then the breakout Marvin vocal change it's bloody marvellous. 

I love albums that grow from interesting to irresistable and this one is in that catagory. He received a lot of high profile praise from Jools Holland, Elton, Paul Weller and the like together with the music press but I think a white north London guy (and not another pretty teen type but a seasoned musican) singing his own take on harmonies that have a strong nod to black America as much as the Beach Boys and Flying Burritto's - with some added amazing guitar - Island were confused and didn't know how to promote him.  He lost ground and by the time his second "Lewis II" arrived, again different - more introspective, more song based and easing up on the production pedal - they gave up, dropping him later that year.

He resurfaced with his own label, Slow Reality, and released "Stoned" ironically a step forward artistically and commercially, more accessible and potentially what Island would have wanted. Again back to acclaim and a following both via the web and through a few live performances. I saw him at a packed Jazz Cafe in London and was blown away.

"Stoned Part 2" followed with new songs and some reworkings from it's counterpart suggesting the guy is a perfectionist. Later a "Lost Album" appeared with yet more versions of those songs with a more rock bias than soul. All the above are recommended. He gave up his career in 2006 and is still considered by many to be a great loss to the music scene.
He had a song covered by Robbie Williams from which I hope he gets a decent royalty cheque every now and then. I play his albums a lot and often think he would be great in the production seat for various artists.

I recommend you seek out his albums.

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