Chip Taylor

The London Sessions Bootleg

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Chip Taylor's early resume as the author of such '60s hits as "Wild Thing" and "Angel of the Morning" is a poor preparation for his '90s career as a singer/songwriter; a better indication is his country music from the early '70s, like the Waylon Jennings hit "Sweet Dream Woman." He may be a born-and-bred New Yorker, but listening to Taylor's idiosyncratic recent work, you would swear he was from Texas; the closest approximations are people like Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Guy Clark. Following a 1998 European tour, Taylor entered a London recording studio to cut a bunch of new songs and decided he liked the results enough to release them on his own record label, Train Wreck Records. Before he could do so, however, he cut another session of newly written songs in New York and liked those, too. The result is this sprawling two-disc set, running over an hour and 45 minutes. It's appropriate that Taylor has given it the relatively undefined London Sessions title, and that he has referred to it as a bootleg. There are some wonderful individual songs here, but they do not cohere into an album, and the off-the-cuff, live-in-the-studio performances are unpolished, sounding not so much like a bootleg as a collection of demos. What's great about the set, however, is the oddball, but often impressive material. Some songs are misfires, but by the time such tracks play, the listener is willing to accept the hit-or-miss quality of Taylor's songwriting, since the good ones are so imaginative. The whole thing comes to an appropriate end with a hidden track that finds Taylor, just having woken up from a dream in which Kris Kristofferson gave him the first line, singing an improvised song into his bedside tape recorder. One could bet that wasn't the only song that came to him in a dream.

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