Mahal, Taj

Band members               Related acts

- Joseph Daley - tuba, trombone

- Kwasi "Rocky" DziDzourunu - congas

- John Hall - guitar

- Howard Johnson - tuba, sax

- Taj Mahal - vocals, harp, harmonica, guitar, banjo

- Ernie McIntyre - tuba, bass trombone

- Bill Rich - bass

- John Simon - guitar

- Bob Stewart - tuba, trumpet

- Greg Thomas - drums



- none known




Genre: r

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Real Thing

Company: Columbia

Catalog: G 30619 / C 30620

Year: 1972

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4

Price: $

Cost: $66.00


I own quite a bit of Taj Mahal's catalog so I don't feel bad saying I run hot and cold on his work.  


Produced by David Rubinson and recorded at Bill Graham's Fillmore East,  1972's "The Real Thing" is a live, double album set that I find quite attractive and enjoyable.  One of the ingredients that makes this set of country and blues numbers so engaging is Mahal's extensive use of a horn section - want to hear a tuba solo on a blues number?  Check out the instrumental 'Tom and Sally Drake'!  The set's also engaging for the simple fact that Mahal and company don't try too hard.  They seem exceptionally comfortable and seem to be enjoying themselves - check out the acoustic instrumental 'Ain't Gwine To Whistle Dixie (Any Mo')'.  Musically the set offers up a mixture of earlier studio material with a couple of newer numbers.  Mahal's good by himself (the opener 'Fishin' Blues'), but the album really kicks in when the whole band kicks into gear - 'Sweet Mama Janisse', Mahal's rocked up arrangement of Sleepy John Estes' 'Diving Duck Blues' and the side four long jam 'You Ain't No Street Walker Mama, Honey But I Do Love the Way You Strut Your Stuff'.    


"The Real Thing" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Fishin' Blues   (Henry Thomas) - 2:57

2.) Ain't Gwine To Whistle Dixie (Any Mo') (instrumental)   (Chuck Blackwell - Jesse Davis - Gary Gilmore - Taj Mahal - Chuck Blackwell) - 9:11

3.) Sweet Mama Janisse   (Taj Mahal) - 3:32


(side 2)

1.) Going Up To the Country and Paint My Mailbox Blue   (Taj Mahal) - 3:24

2.) Big Kneed Gal   (Taj Mahal) - 5:34

3.) You're Going To Need Somebody On Your Bond   (Blind Willie Johnson) - 6:13


(side 3)

1.) Tom and Sally Drake (instrumental)   (Taj Mahal) - 3:39

2.) Diving Duck Blues   (Sleepy John Estes) - 8:45

3.) John, Ain't It Hard   (Taj Mahal) - 9:45


(side 4)

1.) You Ain't No Street Walker Mama, Honey But I Do Love the Way You Strut Your Stuff   (Taj Mahal) - 11:45



AMG Pick
Track Pick
Review by Lindsay Planer

Taj Mahal followed up Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home (1969) with another double-disc concert platter whose title pretty much sums up the contents. The Real Thing (1971) is drawn from a mid-February run of shows at the Fillmore East in New York City where he, Spencer Davis, the Chambers Brothers, and Roberta Flack, among others, shared the bill. Mahal (vocals/banjo/guitar/harmonica/arranger/fife/harp/steel guitar/ harmonica) is supported by an interesting extended aggregate with a brass section consisting of Joseph Daley (tuba/horn/trombone), Bob Stewart (horn), and a pair of former Charles Mingus bandmembers, Earl McIntyre (horn) and Howard Johnson (horn). 


While at times they tend to overpower the usually intimate nature of the performances, that is certainly not the case for the majority of the arrangements. The opener, "Fishin' Blues," is a solo with Mahal accompanying himself on banjo. "Ain't Gwine to Whistle Dixie (Any Mo')" is significantly lengthened from the form found on Giant Step (1968) as it stretches nearly nine minutes and allows plenty of room for interaction, offering up a spirited fife interlude from Mahal. In addition to providing an overview from his back catalog, The Real Thing contains a few new compositions. 


The full ensemble gets a workout on the funky "Sweet Mama Janisse" and the toe-tappin' rural flavor of the instrumental "Tom and Sally Drake" is lightly augmented by a sole tuba presumably that of Johnson.

 Sleepy John Estes' "Diving Duck Blues" arguably submits the most successful incorporation of brass, sporting a driving, full-throttle rhythm and soulful interpretation. The 2000 CD reissue was extended to fit the entire live set, adding the previously unavailable "She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride," matching the intensity of the sizeable bluesy, closing jam "You Ain't No Street Walker Mama, Honey But I Do Love They Way You Strut."



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