Photographer: Rod Dyer.
Throughout his career, Taj Mahal has always been considered a bluesman, which is true enough, since the basis for everything he does has been the country blues, but he is not a traditionalist at heart, and he has always looked for ways to push the blues into new places and shapes. At times adding rhythms and sensibilities that are drawn from reggae, ragtime, calypso, zydeco, and other genres, Mahal practices a kind of blues hybrid that is his alone, and he has been a huge influence on newer artists like Chris Thomas King and Corey Harris. This 14-track collection does a good job of showing what he does, and if the blues purists don't always like it, Mahal's melting-pot approach never loses sight of the blues as a fluid and adaptable form. ~ Steve Leggett