Pros:Sixteen of James Taylor's best known hits from the 70s and 80s. Unedited.
Cons:Only goes until 1985. Expensive and potentially hard to find.
The Bottom Line: This collection doesn't quite include all of Taylor's classics, but it includes a whole lot of them.
Back in the 1990s, I went through a serious music acquisition phase. Since I was, and still am, a James Taylor fan, it made perfect sense that I would want to purchase his 1987 German greatest hits CD, Classic Songs, even though I already owned most of his studio albums. I clearly remember the day I saw it at my favorite independently owned music store in Williamsburg, Virginia. There it sat in the rack, taunting me with its $20 price tag. Even though I was poor back then, my need to acquire overrode common sense. I bought it and haven't regretted it.
Recommend this product?
Classic Songs consists of sixteen songs from James Taylor's repertoire from 1970 until 1985. Any casual James Taylor fan will recognize most of the songs on this CD. The liner notes include lyrics and a track listing, but there is no personnel listing. The CD runs for about an hour.
Classic Songs includes the following Taylor chestnuts:
Fire and Rain
You've Got A Friend
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
Carolina In My Mind
Something In The Way She Moves
Shower The People
Sweet Baby James
That's Why I'm Here
Up On The Roof
Your Smiling Face
Her Town Too
Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
Only a Dream In Rio
Like a lot of James Taylor fans, one of the very first albums I ever bought by him was his eponymous Greatest Hits CD. That well-known disc is great for Taylor newbies who don't want to make a big investment. However, I actually like Classic Songs a little better than the Greatest Hits disc, mainly because it has more songs on it and the versions of the songs on this CD are unedited album tracks rather than shortened radio edit versions. Also, this compilation includes hits from the late 1970s and early 1980s, like "Her Town Too", "Up On The Roof" and "Handyman".
What Greatest Hits has that Classic Songs doesn't have is an awesome (and slightly profane) version of "Steamroller", "Country Road", and "Walking Man". Though I actually prefer Taylor's studio version of "Steamroller", the live version is kind of a must have for Taylor fans. However, in today's era of downloading, one can easily get that track without buying the whole Greatest Hits album and getting the disappointingly edited Taylor hits. Personally, I think the gorgeous unedited version of "Shower The People" that appears on Classic Songs is reason enough to choose it over Greatest Hits, even though this disc's import status means it's going to be more expensive and potentially harder to find. The sound quality of this collection is excellent, even after all the years I've owned it.
These songs have stood the test of time. Taylor's voice is clear, comforting, and just plain gorgeous. He could sing the phonebook and I'd probably be enthralled. But of course, James Taylor is known for his strong songwriting and acoustic guitar playing as well. This collection includes plenty of examples of all of Taylor's musical talents.
If you're a casual James Taylor fan who just wants his biggest hits from the 70s and 80s, Classic Songs is an excellent buy. You get a fine collection of his songs from 1970 until 1985 with unedited album tracks instead of shortened radio versions. On the other hand, this album is more expensive, harder to find, and doesn't include any of his more recent songs from the 90s and 00s.
For more information: www.jamestaylor.com
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