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Greatest Hits
James Taylor

Warner 2979
Released: October 1976
Chart Peak: #23
Weeks Charted: 41
Certified 3x Platinum: 6/1/89

James TaylorJames Taylor/Greatest Hits lives up to its title. Just about all of Taylor's most memorable tunes are here, and though you'll have to take the shrink wrap off to find out, there are new (and tasteful) versions of "Carolina in My Mind" and "Something in the Way She Moves", along with a live version of "Steamroller". It's intruiging -- with all these songs side by side, one notices that Taylor's songwriting has not appreciably changed, although our perception of him has, perhaps because of his more sophisticated arrangements.

- Billy Altman, Rolling Stone, 1-13-77.

Bonus Reviews!

The instantly recognizable, soft, smooth, yet emotion-packed tenor of a founding master of laid-back writer/singer rock is displayed here in his best-remembered recordings. Taylor's quiet angst music, edging gradually into muted optimism, is an inescapable part of our recent musical history. Taylor's sound influenced a great deal of what is considered acceptable hit-making work today. Best cuts: "Fire And Rain," "Carolina In My Mind," "You've Got A Friend," "How Sweet It Is."

- Billboard, 1976.

James Taylor - Greatest Hits
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.

As egoists go, Taylor is a talent -- a gifted guitarist, a better-than-average melodist, a pithy lyricist whose feeling for Americanese is warm if corny. And his voice you can get used to -- it's soulful in its way, and he can phrase. But melodies aside, he's not a star for his virtues. He's a star because he's an egoist -- because he vaunts his sensitivity so expertly. So it's inevitable that this best-of should shortchange his sense of humor ("Gorilla," "Chili Dog," "Money Machine") and horror ("Knocking 'Round the Zoo," "Junkie's Lament") and preserve his disgraceful covers of "You've Got a Friend" and "How Sweet It Is." If you want "Fire and Rain," buy Sweet Baby James. At least it's a piece of history. C

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

The consummate collection from the consummate male of the singer/songwriter subgenre of rock. And he's a curious, class act -- subtle in hs blatant self-exposure. His easy, convincing vocal style and fine melodic sense draw heavily on earlier American musical traditions. His writing ability is such that one wonders why he messes with cover material, since that's generally the weakest part of his recordings, which is definitely the case here. While these dozen selections are the product of seven different recording sessions, Taylor and his producers have always been sensitive to the sound of his recordings, a sensitivity that results in almost uniform, excellent sound quality on this compact disc. A-

- Bill Shapiro, Rock & Roll Review: A Guide to Good Rock on CD, 1991.

Pretty great. Be warned, however, that the versions of "Something in the Way She Moves" and "Carolina in My Mind" are re-recordings. * * * *

- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Like your favorite pair of jeans, this early stuff is always comfy to put on and hang out with, as the soft-rock troubadour for a generation has one of the sweetest, friendliest, most beguiling voices in the world. His seemingly simple songs say just what you feel and warm you like cognac, so if this collection doesn't automatically transport you to summer, you're not listening. * * * * *

- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.

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