James Taylor - guitar, piano, vocals; Danny Kortchmar - guitar; Leland Sklar - bass; Russ Kunkel - drums
Other than its being incomplete, one couldn't find much wrong with this vintage live recording of James Taylor. Not only are the recordings themselves of excellent quality, but these two benefit concerts capture Taylor smack dab in the middle of the Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon LP recording sessions. Taylor mentions that the proceeds from these benefits would be directed toward American Indian related charities. This is 1970, awhile before "Native American" became politically correct.
The set begins solo acoustic. The late show gets kicked off with "Country Road," from his then chart-topping second album, and is followed by "Knocking 'Round the Zoo," recorded on The Beatles' Apple label a few years earlier with his band, the Flying Machine. Some of the notable rarities from the acoustic portion of the set include a lovely cover of his brother Livingston's tune "In My Reply," along with a slow groove rendition of "Up On The Roof," the big Drifters hit penned by Jerry Goffin and Carole King. Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee" is also given Taylor's laid back treatment to humorous effect.
Following "Carolina In My Mind," Taylor introduces his rhythm section, who join him onstage. "Riding On The Railroad" and particularly "Fire And Rain" and "Highway Song," a tune soon to turn up on his brother Alex's album, benefit tremendously from the impeccable backing by Sklar and Kunkel. On the latter song, Taylor switches to piano. At this point, Danny Kortchmar joins in on acoustic lead guitar and completes the quartet for the rest of the set. They perform Kortchmar's "Machine Gun Kelly" and Taylor's "Hey Mister, That's Me Up On The Jukebox," both destined for his next album, before the tape ran out. The set closer "Steamroller Blues" is missing, as well as any encores.
Regardless, this is an enjoyable set capturing one of America's great singer/songwriters in his prime.