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Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013

Taj Mahal

The Complete Columbia Albums Collection (Columbia Legacy)

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Taj Mahal’s self-titled debut solo album (1967) was a rough-sawn blues-rock affair. Afterward, he moved back in time for Delta blues and antique folk songs, sideways into calypso and reggae and forward toward easy-going soul and uniquely imagined blends of all the above. As displayed in this 15-CD set, comprised of every album he recorded during his long tenure with Columbia, Mahal also exemplified Americana with no hint of affectation. Although he picked up the blues in college (not in the cotton fields) he always delivered this music from a well-worn, thoroughly lived sensibility. Perhaps the biggest surprises—the playfully rootsy blues with a hint of psychedelic jangle—come from the little heard 1965-1966 sessions with Ry Cooder.