Sam Taylor Jr. – 1969 – The Tunnels of My Mind
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Excellent soul album, somewhat overlooked by fans of this genre, because it was created by an artist associated only with the blues scene.
His version of Hey Girl is one of the best ever. The album was recorded in LA in 1969 and features Sam with Bob Cardwell guitar, James Cooke guitar; Clarence McDonald organ; Miles Grayson piano; Ronald Brown bass; Paul Humphrey drums; arranged by Miles Grayson and produced by Mal Williams and Bob Cardwell.
It’s not often that you come across a songwriter and musician that inspires you the way Sam Taylor can. He has a something you just can’t put into words, something you just have to experience for yourself to even begin to understand. What you are seeing and hearing is not the normal blues experience one would expect. It’s an experience that has lasted over 50 years through the good times and the bad.
With that kind of legacy beside him as well as 11 albums of his own, Sam “Bluzman” Taylor has truly proven to be the voice of the blues. Although his main foundation is the Blues, he brings a unique blend of Soul, Gospel, Funk & even Country which shows that he refuses to be boxed in.
A1 The Stinger 3:20
A2 I Heard It Through the Grapevine 3:40
A3 (Cry Me) 10,000 Tears 3:23
A4 Now You Got the Nerve 2:59
A5 Dark End of the Street 4:25
B1 Next in Line 2:49
B2 Tunnels of My Mind 5:22
B3 Cigarette Grubber 2:32
B4 Mary, What Did You Do? 2:40
B5 Hey Girl 6:45
Here’s one that has been ridiculously overlooked among soul aficionados. Maybe it is because Sam Taylor Jr. is usually associated with blues music more than soul, but this is more a soul record at the core…and besides, the two genres are often interwoven; soul was a blues descendant, you know. Took me a while to discover this one, and I can’t remember where I pulled it out. However, I couldn’t help but misunderstand how Sam Taylor didn’t get noticed, even if … wasn’t exactly producing chart-toppers. Mr. Taylor plays a fresh guitar on many tracks, and his rich, gruff tenor screams of serious emotion.
On top of that, the blues touch really shines through on tracks like “Now You Got the Nerve” with it’s galloping beat and his cover of “Dark End of the Street” (still with the gospel choir, but now in 3/4 time). Many tracks have hammond organs to go with the guitar licks, and even congas on the uptempo “Cigarette Grubber” (which condemns moochers who just want, well, something like a cigarette) and “Next in Line“. The biggest highlight here is when Taylor slows it down for the very bluesy title track; a chopping rhythm guitar and percussion reminiscent of a dirge pace as he makes his plea for his brothers to take a look in the mirror (“tell me, when you gonna make a stand?”).
However, not far behind is his version of “Hey Girl” to close out. It actually feels like a slow and desperate goodbye, and might be the best version of the song ever recorded. I don’t think I need to say more about that one.
Generally, there’s a reason some collectors want to get their hands on his opus , but it’s another case of being surprised how obscure this release truly is. I was lucky to even get a digital version, and the music damn pure.
Taylor and his songwriting partner, Bennie Earl, mentored young Florida duo Sam & Dave, wrote two of their early hits “People in Love” and “Listening For My Name“, when the duo recorded for Roulette Records, predating their later success with Stax/Volt. Taylor was also an original member and guitarist/songwriter for Joey Dee and the Starliters. With fellow Starliter Dave Brigatti, Taylor had a strong influence on The Rascals, which included Brigati’s younger brother Eddie. He also wrote some of the first songs for The Vagrants which included Leslie West who would later go on to form Mountain. After recording and appearing in two films with the Starliters including Two Tickets to Paris, Taylor took his friend Jimi Hendrix with him to tell Joey Dee and Morris Levy to let the young upstart take his place in the group.
At the start of the 1970s, Taylor and Earl were hired as staff songwriters for The Beach Boys record label, Brother Records, until Brian Wilson burned the studio with Taylor and Earl’s demos for the group going up in flames. At that time, Taylor released his first solo album Tunnels Of My Mind on the GRT label. He was later hired by Roadshow Records as an A&R/songwriter for the acts they were signing. He was told by the record producer Jeff Lane that, in exchange for helping them build up the company, he would be granted a solo deal for three albums. One of these acts was King David House Rockers who became B.T. Express.
Taylor played rhythm guitar on all tracks of the group’s first five albums, with the first three being million sellers, “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied)“, “Non-Stop“, and “Energy to Burn“. He also played the organ on the group’s million seller, “Do It Your Satisfied“. Taylor’s song “Peace Pipe” became one of the group’s biggest hits. Taylor also produced and wrote songs for Norma Jenkins debut album, Patience is a Virtue that became obscure soul classics such as “Reachin Out In The Darkness“.