James Taylor’s official YouTube page has shared the latest archive performance selection by the great singer-songwriter. It delves back into his second appearance on the BBC’s In Concert series, broadcast in November 1971, when he was 23 years old.
The track is “Soldiers,” from his hugely popular album Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon. Taylor is accompanied on piano by his fellow breakthrough artist of the day, Carole King, as well as by Leland Sklar on bass and Russ Kunkel on drums. He begins by mentioning how short the track is, as indeed it is on the LP, but it retains its waltz-tempo charm, with some lovely piano detail by King.
“I thought it was half a tune, actually, when I started to write it, which was about four years ago,” he says, “but I never got anything else on it, so I guess it’s finished. Of course I could be wrong…”
Roy Carr’s review for the New Musical Express of Taylor and King’s concert a few months earlier at the Royal Festival hall enthused: “From the outset you just can’t but help having a warm affinity for James Taylor. Seemingly all arms, legs and baggy trousers, Taylor shyly lopes on stage, almost like someone’s kid brother who aimlessly intruded upon a private discussion.”
Speaking to writer Keith Altham in Petticoat in October 1971, Taylor said of his gentle style: “I don’t think music needs to be so obvious and loud that it shatters and batters the ear drum and all other parts of the party. The only really good loud group I’ve heard was The Who – I did a concert with them in the States. I just believe that what I do is best taken in and consumed by the brain at an easy pace.”
Taylor’s 2022 tour with his All-Star Band arrives in Columbia, SC, on June 21, with shows until the end of July. He then appears on August 20 at the John Williams: The Tanglewood 90th Birthday Celebration, before starting his European tour on September 19 in Madrid.
Buy or stream James Taylor’s American Standard.