THE LOST GENIUS OF LEWIS TAYLOR.
Haven’t posted one of these in a while, so thought I’d get back on the bus so to speak. The next forgotten genius is one who truly has been left on the shelf. Unlike say Mark Eric or Hopkirk & Lee, the music of Lewis Taylor was released commercially (via Island Records and then his own label Slow Reality) but consistently bombed, yet as the years go by, in classic ‘lost albums’ traditions has picked up a hyper dedicated fervent following. I am one such follower.
Spreading the word of Lewis Taylor is akin to being one of the beardy ones disciples, I was one of those converts, the album was given to me during a particularly trying time a few years ago and the quality and density of the music that Taylor made left me speechless and became a soothing balm in time of trouble. There are a number of reasons why you can keep coming back to his music though. The quality of the musicianship means songs reveal themselves at different times, you can go from disregarding one song as filler one week to just a few listens later finding something new in the structure or a new layer of the song that totally flips your perception. One though has always stood out – Lucky is the opening track and sets the mood of the album perfectly, As an instrumentalist, Taylor was without compare, the little guitar runs are sublime, floating in and out of foreboding orchestra swirls, the lyrics (always one of Taylor’s most underrated skills in my opinion) are defeated, a pleading, urging last throw of the relationship dice, it’s classic soul territory but glazed over with the harmonies and psych guitar makes it a totally unique proposition and sets the narrative of the album up perfectly. Each song reveals itself in a individual way the nihilism of Bittersweet, the upbeat revenge of Whoever and ending in an amazing acapella redemption song (Spirit)
Taylor carried on making albums, the standout being Stoned Part I (2002) which includes the fantastically groovy Lovelight, he then really just slipped from view, I saw him for the first (and last) time live at the Jazz Cafe in 2006 and he did not disappoint. His complete catalog is now available on ITunes, and i urge everyone to take a look and dip your toe, you won’t be disappointed.
Coda; This is a pretty good post from the Guardian last years on Lewis’ eccentricities…
From Later With Jools Holland 1996