Blind Joe Taggart - Been Listening All Day

Published Monday 8th September 2014
Blind Joe Taggart - Been Listening All Day
Blind Joe Taggart - Been Listening All Day

STYLE: Blues
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 152204-22247

Reviewed by Lins Honeyman

Although less celebrated than fellow pre-war gospel blues exponents Blind Willie Johnson and Reverend Gary Davis, the guitar-toting singing evangelist Blind Joe Taggart was no slouch either. This 22-song anthology from Nehi Records highlights Taggart's considerable contribution to the genre. Whilst not a complete collection by any means (for that you need to locate the Taggart albums released by Document Records), the compilers have chosen songs that represent a recording career that lasted from 1926 to 1934 as well as providing a useful inlay card biography that gives more information on Taggart's personal and musical life - including theories on Taggart's alleged use of pseudonyms such as Six Cylinder Smith and Blind Joe Amos. With a more palatable vocal style than many of his blues counterparts and a fingerpicking style that added urgency to the material he chose to record, tracks like "He Done What The World Couldn't Do" and "Scandalous And A Shame" showcase a directness when communicating matters of faith whilst the likes of "C&O Blues" and "Pennsylvania Woman Blues" see Taggart straddle the secular/sacred divide. A keen collaborator, Taggart is joined by his enthusiastic but often untuneful wife Bertha on "When I Stand Before The King" whilst duets with Emma Taggart - now thought to be his uncle's wife - on the sublime "Take Your Burden To The Lord" and the a cappella "Everybody's Got To Be Tried" are more successful. Perhaps most interestingly, a teenage Josh White - Taggart's helper and musical apprentice - turns up on a number of tracks to signal the start of the recording career of one of the blues world's true greats which, despite White's reported mistreatment at the hands of his mentor and the accusation that Taggart was something of a mean-tempered man, is proof enough that Taggart at least helped shape the musical landscape of the future.

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