Chip Taylor (AKA James Wesley Voight)
Beautiful and Thought Provoking Songs From Legendary Songwriter.
Chip Taylor? Not heard of him? You have. Wild Thing, Angel (Of the morning), Try and Any Way You Want Me are just four songs that he wrote and topped various Hit Parades or at least are being played somewhere on Planet Earth on a Gold Radio Station as you read this.
Yet the one time professional gambler doesn’t rest on his laurels sipping cocktails from a golden chalice; no he still tours endlessly and records albums with songs that are touching and mindful.
The opening track is fascinating as it’s actually a spoken story of Alice playing in golf tournaments for kids set to music. It was only on the fourth or fifth time of hearing it that the story of ‘Barry taking his Granddaughter to the various tournaments’ began to unravel. I’m not going to spoil it by giving the last verse away, but Taylor really is a Master Craftsman.
That last sentence really does sum up Chip Taylor; he can tell a story and tell it in his soft, homely Grandpa style like no one else. St. Joan is a tale that stopped me in my tracks and made me listen intensely to every single word, then press ‘repeat’ each time it ended.
Book of Hope is really absorbing, although it’s vaguely about Religion and International Politics…..the way Taylor’s provocative lyrics slowly pour from his lips will make you realise that there really is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’…..if you look for it.
One track that should work but doesn’t work is Enlighten Yourself; basically because of the itro which finds Taylor rambling about people who “tell him to ‘Relax’ but never explain how to.” To emphasise his annoyance several lines are prefaced with a car horn; this happens again mid-way through. Probably a good idea that should have been left in the studio.
Then again Chip also ‘introduces’ two other songs that are actually enhanced by his spoken words set to music; the first is the title track Little Brothers. For those who don’t know Chip Taylor was born James Wesley Voight. That surname may ring a bell as his eldest brother Barry is a world famous expert on volcanoes. No? Possibly you know his other brother Jon; one of the finest actors of his generation. Yes, that Jon Voight!
The three are the boys featured on the cover and the story/song is absolutely glorious the way Chip puts some family minutiae to music; yet the thread will resonate with many of us too.
Regular readers will now my fondness for a ‘love song’ and Taylor delivers one here that brought a lump to my throat the first time I heard it. On Time Goes By the singer declares his love for his wife of many, many years in a whisper but the sentiment screams from the speakers. This is as good a love song as I’ve ever heard!
My absolutely favourite song here; and one that really tugged at my heartstrings also features a spoken introduction and one that is an integral part of the song that follows.
In these troubled times (I am writing this post-Brexit and the evening after DJ Trump became American President) the song Refugee Children is beautiful/touching/clever/relevant in equal measures. Taylor doesn’t hit you over the head nor sugar coat the tale but he gets the ‘message across’ in a way 99.99% of other songwriters can ever manage.
Released September 23rd 2016