Taj Mahal

Satisfied 'n Tickled Too

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Taj Mahal had been fusing country blues with an increasingly diverse range of influences on his albums of the early '70s, and by the time he cut Satisfied 'n Tickled Too in 1976, the blues had practically been squeezed out of the picture by all the other elements he'd absorbed. With the exception of "Ain't Nobody's Business," a sly endorsement of liquor and drugs, there isn't a blues tune to be found on this LP, while "Baby Love" is far and away the most polished attempt at a mainstream R&B single that Mahal had released to date, a grand-scale production that all but begged to be played on quiet storm radio (though at nearly nine minutes it's hard to imagine any radio station playing it in its complete form). "New E-Z Rider Blues" is a polished exercise in light funk, "Black Man, Brown Man" and the title cut are roots reggae more accomplished that his exercises in the style on 1975's Music Keeps Me Together, "Misty Morning Ride" verges on fusion jazz, and "We Tune" embraces the percussive grooves of salsa. Mahal and his large crew of musicians on these sessions are as expert as one could hope, and this is as well crafted as anything in Mahal's catalog, but the smooth surfaces bear little sign of the grit that makes most blues, soul, jazz, and reggae compelling, and while several of the albums that immediately preceded Satisfied 'n Tickled Too were so eclectic that they lacked a coherent musical personality, this disc's clean lines keep the performances uniformly unexciting. If Taj Mahal began as a visionary eccentric, Satisfied 'n Tickled Too was where (at least for a while) he lost what made him interesting in the guise of becoming a "better" musician.

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