Livingston Taylor - vocals, guitar; Bill Elliott - piano; Walter Robinson - bass
Livingston Taylor has always been relegated to living in the shadow of his older brother James, which is a shame, as it has prevented him being recognized for being an equally talented songwriter, musician and performer. The similarities are undeniable and possibly genetic; like his older brother, Livingston is a master of crafting laid back, sweetly melodic songs delivered in a warm honey-tinged voice. However, lyrically, he is a bit more cerebral and vocally more adventurous than James, which sets him apart. Like most of the emerging singer-songwriters during the early 1970s era, Taylor's original songs are often intimate and personal and even after all these years, remain warm and inviting. Livingston is also a world-class finger-style guitar player and this combined with his exuberant personality make his live performances a thoroughly engaging experience.
This live performance, recorded before a small in-studio audience at the Record Plant, is a particularly fascinating one as it captures Taylor shortly after the release of his initial early Capricorn albums, which were released from 1970 to 1973. He wouldn't release another album for five years, so from a recording standpoint, this is somewhat of a missing link, including material that remains unreleased, along with some of his finest early material and a choice smattering of covers. Accompanied by his occasional songwriting-collaborator Bill Elliott on piano and Walter Robinson on bass, Taylor delivers a set that draws the listener into his world with flare and style while never resorting to histrionics or superfluous instrumentation. His song arrangements and vocal delivery display a great sense of economy and craft.
The songs that remain unreleased will be of great interest to longtime fans. There are plenty of them here, including the lovely "Fallin' In Love With You," the light jazzier "Never Learned To Dance" and "Feelin' Fine," as well as the humorous "Cornbread and Buttermilk." Taylor also sings a beautiful rendition of bass player Walter Robinson's composition, "Time Does Fly."
Taylor's choice of cover material is quite intriguing. Included in this set is a charming rendition of the Ray Charles classic "Hallelujah (I Love Her So)," The Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends" and an unusual arrangement of "You Send Me" that is quite different from Sam Cooke's original. However, the standout cover and one of the most memorable performances of this entire show is Taylor's take on Aretha Franklin's "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream."
Add to this the finest two songs off his debut album, "In My Reply" and "Carolina Day" as well as "Be That Way" and the set closer "Get Out Of Bed," both featured on his second LP Liv, and you have a remarkable performance that is sure to delight old and new fans alike.