So, just this past Sunday after Thanksgiving, I was running around Charlotte killing time, running errands and checking out the local CD shops along the way and I decided to check out a little shop I usually don’t go into too often.
Truth is, I don’t go into this shop too often because they don’t really get anything cool too often. It is the weakest location of a local 3 store chain and I go to the other two stores in the chain much more because the locations are better and the results are usually better; in other words, at the other stores I can find stuff I actually want.
But, I am nearby this bastard third location and I suck it up and decide to go in, totally realizing I probably won’t find anything worth buying. I search for a little while, thinking I am going to prove myself a visionary by totally striking out so far. I then wander towards the R&B section knowing if I don’t find anything there, I will be buying nada from this joint. Upon perusal of this section, I notice a little oddity: an album called “Stoned” by Lewis Taylor.
Not recognizing the guy’s name, I pick it up to check out the liner notes to see if I can recognize some of the players’ and producers’ names. Well, the liner notes are really brief and I only recognize some obscure record industry names in the Thank You’s but I am intrigued because it seems the guy is a one-man band in that he plays everything himself and produced the CD.
Well, I love that kind of shit. Good or bad, I am always curious to hear what a person can do with his musical talent when he tries to do it all himself. So, I wander over to the listening station and pop this CD in and I am floored! Soul in the best of the old (Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Prince) and new (D’Angelo) traditions with plenty of psychedelic rock touches as well to spice it up.
Needless to say, I am THRILLED with my find and before I listen to too much and ruin it for myself, I take it out of the listening station, rush to the register, pay for the shiny disc and commence to take it home.
As soon as I get home, I pop that thing in the CD player and start to do some research on the album while Lewis Taylor’s sweet psychedelic soul music washes over my ears and melts my brain.
Seems the album came out on the Hacktone label in 2005 and was distributed by Shout! Factory. A check of the Shout! Factory website leads to nothing so I next go to my favorite music research portal, Allmusic.com!
Soon I learn Lewis Taylor is an English musician who first found some measure of fame in the mid ’80’s as a member of the re-united Edgar Broughton Band, playing guitar with the group. After leaving, he started a psychedelic combo called Captain Jack and released two albums with them. He then vanished for almost a decade before landing a deal with Island Records in ’96 on the strength of a demo by Taylor that made the Island suits think they had found the second-coming of Al Green, only with multi-instrumental-playing capabilities. He made two psychedelic neo-soul records for Island and was dropped as both flopped. Seems the suits loved him but didn’t have the brains to market him correctly. I guess white Englishmen aren’t allowed to make modern, yet classic-sounding soul records.
Discouraged, Taylor decided to release albums on his own label and has put out about four or five depending on whether you think homemade CDs given out at gigs count as releases.
The album I found, Stoned, is actually the second record he released on his own (it came out originally in 2002) but the first record of Taylor’s to be released in the US. Seems the owners of Hacktone felt the record had sank unjustly and wanted to give it a chance in the States. Sadly, it sank in the States without a trace as well. Seems the album was getting a good push in late 2005 but shortly after Taylor appeared on Conan he developed nodules on his throat and couldn’t tour the US, so it was Conan and out.
Now, in late 2006, the label Hacktone is defunct and Taylor is still obscure, the album now languishing in bargain bins everywhere. This is an artist who has been trumpeted by D’Angelo, Paul Weller, Elton John, Mary J. Blige and a bunch of others but still remains in the shadows.
If you are into soul, neo-soul, R&B or whatever the fuck they are calling it these days, you need to check this album out. A swirling mass of future funk that channels Johnny Guitar Watson, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix at the same time and with vocals as sweet as Prince’s falsetto, Taylor sings some of the most soulful, sensual psychedelic R&B music I have heard in a long time. I can’t truly label it derivative or new but it does combine both the past, present and future in a way that will make your ass shake, your knees buckle and your heart melt. Most adept at guitar, the man shows a facility for any instrument he touches and shows an affinity for crafting elegant tapestries of music while still finding the funk and psyche-swirling it up.
Needless to say I am going to spend a lot of time over the next week or so tracking down everything else this guy’s ever done. To be as old as he is (mid ’40’s) with over twenty years of music biz experience and have that talent vocally and instrumentally and still be unknown is a fucking injustice. Please search this album out if you can and check it out. I know you won’t be sorry.
The Music Nerd knows…..that Lewis Taylor should be more fucking famous than Justin Timberbitch….