Larry Taylor and The Taylor Family
with The Soul Blues Healers
Generations Of Blues: West Side Legacy
Nola Blue Records
Release Date: June 16, 2023
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2023
In Memory: Eddie And Vera Taylor.
Eddie Taylor Sr. 1923 -1985 Vera Hill Taylor 1943-1999
Eddie Taylor Sr, a master guitarist and VeeJay recording artist, and his wife, singer Vera Taylor, were leaders in the Great Migration generation which brought the blues from Mississippi to the West Side of Chicago in the 1950’s. Five of their eight children grew up to be professional musicians. Out of the relentless chaos of urban poverty, violence, and racial injustice in the Taylor’s home community rises the beauty of this music of survival. The blues is in their blood.
In 2015, Larry invited his brothers and sisters – Brenda, Demetria, Eddie Jr. and Tim – to record songs from their parents’ generation. Larry’s son Dullah “Liljet2x” added a rap song dedicated to his mother, the late Janice Myles. So, three Taylor generations shine on this album- in body or in spirit. Larry’s group, the Soul Blues Healers, includes West and South Side musicians he’s known for a lifetime. Since this recording, Sleepy Riley and Killer Ray Allison have gone on to Soul Heaven.
This album, Generations of Blues: West Side Legacy is dedicated to Eddie and Vera Taylor for Eddie Sr.’s 100th birthday anniversary Jan. 29, 2023.
The members of The Taylor Family appearing on Generations of Blues: West Side Legacy include: Larry Taylor on vocals and drums; Eddie Taylor Jr. (R.I.P.) on vocals and guitar; Brenda and Demetria Taylor on vocals; Tim Taylor on drums; and Liljet2x (Abdullah Al Shabazz) on lead and background vocals. Other musicians on the project include: Joe B. Brinson, Jerry-O Mansfield, Killer Ray Allison and Ice Mike Thomas on guitar; Abraham Avery and Michael “Sleepy” Riley on bass; Matthew Skoller on harmonica; Barrelhouse Bonni (also on BGV), Stanley Banks, Duke Harris and Kevin Stovall (also on BGV) on keys; B.J. Emery on trombone; and Ronnie G. on sax. Of the disc’s thirteen tracks, eleven are Taylor Family originals.
“Take Your Hand Down”, isn’t just out of the Eddie Taylor songbook, it’s out of the Eddie Taylor style book, as well. Just like Eddie did it back in the day, the guys kept it real with a solid straight up Chicago blues delivery. Listening to brothers Larry and Eddie Jr. on the vocals and the guitar respectively, it’s obvious that those leaves didn’t fall far from the tree. Also, being one of several tracks where he does double duty, Larry – on the drums and Michael Riley – on the bass, are all over the tight foot tappin, body bobbin’ rhythm; and as you might expect from Eddie Sr.’s long-time involvement with Jimmy Reed, the track does indeed feature some killer harp blowin’, and that comes from master Chicago blues harmonicist, Matthew Skoller.
Another of Pop’s originals, titled “Bad Girl”, features daughter Demetria, with a little bit of that Koko Taylor patented kind of growl, belting the hell out of the blues. Musically, the lineup is almost entirely different but it’s that same bad ass Chicago blues. This time it is brother Tim on the drums hooking up with Michael on the bass, for the pocket rhythm; Jerry-O on the rhythm and guitar leads; smokin’ horn blowin’ from B.J. and Ronnie on the trombone and sax; and lots of good ol’ barrelhouse piano runs from Duke.
An original of Mama’s, titled “I Found Out”, features daughter Brenda plotting revenge for the things she ‘found out’ her man was up to and, from what I’m hearing, she’s gonna have fun doing it. With the same ensemble who backed up her sister above, the musical highlights are smoking sax and blues guitar leads from Ronnie and Jerry-O respectively.
As great as Eddie Taylor Sr. was, there were only a couple of his songs that actually achieved commercial success. Coincidentally, since Eddie was known as “Playboy Eddie”, one of those that he did have a hit with was “Big Town Playboy”. It’s another Chicago blues style shuffle that not only features Eddie Jr. on the smokin’ blues guitar leads but sounding real smooth on his only vocal performance as well. Another highlight is Matthew nailing the Jimmy Reed thing as he blows some of the disc’s best harmonica.
On a song he wrote – with a raspy, gravely tone to his voice – Larry belts the blues right out of the park on “I Paid My Dues”. Along with the usually great rhythm groove – this time with Abraham on the bass joining Larry on the drums – the track features Joe B., on only his second appearance, nailing the blues guitar leads; and also, on only her second appearance, Barrelhouse Bonni on the barrelhouse piano runs.
The disc closes with a laid back instrumental titled “Larry & Eddie Jr. Groove (Blues In The Rain)”. It’s four-and-a-half minutes of slow, foot tappin’, knee slappin’, body swayin’, slow blues bliss, with Larry (drums), Michael (bass) and Stanley (piano) trippin’ out in a lazy rhythm groove; Eddie Jr. finessing out some wonderfully soft blues guitar licks; and Matthew – literally from opening to closing notes – putting on a most amazing low key, yet absolutely phenomenal harmonica performance. Yeah, this one got replayed many times.
Other tracks on this outstanding, old school Chicago blues release include: “She Treats Me Just The Same”; “I Feel So Bad”; “Talk To Your Son” (J.B. Lenoir/A. Atkins); “You Belong To Me” (S. Maghett); “Penitentiary Blues”; “No Shine” (Liljet2x); and “Jump Down American Queen”.
Should you like to find out more about Larry Taylor And The Taylor Family, just go to – www.larrytaylorchicagoblues.com. Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.
“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy”