Rolling Stone (9/30/93, p.101) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...LIVE makes clear [that] Taylor's popularity is not merely a case of nostalgia but a testament to the abiding power and depth of his artistry..."
Entertainment Weekly (8/6/93, p.56) - "...JT's at the top of his familiar folksy form, singing with tangible pleasure, and a wry rhythmic kick..." Rating: B+
Q (11/93, p.137) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...James Taylor has always been a top-notch act, exuding charisma and effortless musicality.... [LIVE is] proof..."
Personnel: James Taylor (vocals, guitar); Michael Landau (guitar); Don Grolnick (piano); Clifford Carter (keyboards); Jimmy Johnson (bass); Carlos Vega (drums); Valerie Carter, David Lasley, Kate Markowitz, Arnold McCuller (background vocals).
Engineers: Nathaniel Kunkel, John Godenzi, Randy Hutson.
Recorded live in the fall of 1992.
Although he is a seasoned and well-loved live performer, James Taylor had never made a live record before 1993, when he released this two-CD set. Culled from a series of 14 concerts, these 30 songs capture the genial Taylor digging into an impressively rich bag of songs, with crowd-pleasing results. It's an extremely faithful recording--no overdubs--and the band is top-notch, with a standout backup vocal section. Taylor proves he doesn't mind serving up old chestnuts even after performing them for decades, and delivers the goods with such staples as "You've Got a Friend" and "Fire and Rain."
The first CD concentrates a bit more on classic-era James Taylor--CD 2 leans a bit toward his later career--but most of these songs will be familiar to anyone who was around when Taylor was a fixture on American radio. Beginning with a luminescent "Sweet Baby James," he remains faithful to the spirit of hits like "Shower the People" "Your Smiling Face", and "How Sweet it Is," although he sometimes plays around with his vocal delivery, as on the driving "Steamroller Blues." All in all, this is a satisfying retrospective of a distinguished body of work.