Album Reviews: Macrodosing blues explorer Taj Mahal, major and minor appearances

Time has dug up Taj Mahal’s self-titled solo debut album on my shelves, Taj Mahal (1968), which I bought in my late teens or early twenties since it was advertised to me as a major blues classic of the late 1960 West Coast blues scene. It is, but I didn’t get hung up on Taj Mahal (yet). Ry Cooder is on the album, and Cooder of course also plays on Captain Beefheart’s Safe as Milk(1967) – this connection leads to Taj Mahal’s unlikely crediting of tambourine and washboard on the psych-blues masterpiece to rule them all. We then swoop to 1998’s soundtrack of the ill-fated Blues Brothers 2000 – the Blues Brothers always displayed a knack for Taj Mahal’s smart soulfulness and he appears as a brief stand-in for Son House, so to speak. Good casting. Mess of a historically interesting soundtrack. Another cameo-appearance of Taj Mahal is to be found on Eric Clapton’s frankly uninteresting retirement-letter Old Sock (2013). There we go.