Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

James Taylor: Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon [Warner Bros., 1971]
If even his admirers acknowledge that his music has lost some of its drive (lost some of its drive?), then even a sworn enemy can admit that he's capable of interesting songs and intricate music. Having squandered most of the songs on his big success, he's concentrating on the intricate music--the lyrics are more onanistic than ever, escapist as a matter of conscious thematic decision. From what? you well may wonder. From success, poor fella. Blues singers lived on the road out of economic necessity, although they often got into it; Taylor is an addict, pure and simple. A born-rich nouveau star who veers between a "homestead on the farm" (what does he raise there, hopes?) and the Holiday Inn his mean old existential dilemma compels him to call home deserves the conniving, self-pitying voice that is his curse. Interesting, intricate, unlistenable. C+