Directed by: Milton Lage
- Twenty-three tracks
- Taylor biography and discography
- Making of October Road featurette
Released by: Sony
My Advice: If you’re a fan of Taylor, own it.
James Taylor is one of those musicians where, even if somehow you don’t know who he is, you still know him. I don’t know how prevalent his stuff is in other countries, but here in the States, I have no idea how in the hell somebody could not have heard “You’ve Got a Friend”, for example. Or “How Sweet It Is…” He’s a songwriter who delivers honest lyrics, memorable music, and on this disc, he and a worthy backup band deliver the goods.
[ad#longpost]I’m not a diehard Taylor fan, but I do know enough to be able to tell you that the tracks on this disc consist of a variety of new material and enough of his standards to keep Taylor from being burned in effigy by fans who felt they hadn’t heard what they needed. You know you’ve had a long career when you can open up your set with a song as strong and as popular as “Everyday.”
Most importantly, the presentation on this disc is enough to be interesting. You have to have enough things happening on stage that are worth watching–otherwise, why wouldn’t you just release a live CD? Taylor has enough wit and presence to hold his own, along with the aforementioned band–not to say that there aren’t problems. For example, the percussion solo by Luis Conte seems to be important–it’s got its own track listing on the disc. And to Taylor’s credit, when Conte starts to do his thing, Taylor crouches down on stage and focuses on Conte–just good stage etiquette. However, the spotlight never leaves Taylor for the entirety of the solo, distracting the audience’s focus. To add confusion to insult, the cameras keep cutting to Taylor for “reaction shots,” who apart from just crouching and enjoying Conte’s jamming, he’s not reacting. Now, it’s one thing for the tech guys to screw up like that in a live show, but it’s another thing to not fix it in the editing room before releasing it to DVD.
Bonus stuff is not extensive but what is provided is fairly solid. The featurette, which is behind the scenes in the studio for the making of Taylor’s latest album, October Road, is decent enough. You get some good face time with Taylor as he talks about the process, the up and downsides of recording digitally, and yes, his favorite curse word. I was actually more impressed by the discography, which features a gallery of clickable cover art for all of Taylor’s albums–which leads you to a track listing for each one. Nice little addition.
All in all, the Taylor fans among you will want this–it is, in fact, a no-brainer. The rest of us will at least want to rent the thing, because let’s face it: the man does some excellent work.