More James Taylor
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- Both of these sides are SUPERB in all respects; there’s plenty of Tubey Magic, and that’s one quality that’s hard to come by on this album
- Rich, sweet, and lively — Woman’s Gotta Have It sounds fantastic here
- An underappreciated album that we’re big fans of here at Better Records!
The quality of the songwriting is what makes this album such a moving listening experience. These songs are superb, individually and collectively, and can hold their own up against those found on Gorilla, an album with which In the Pocket has much in common.
Just as they did on Gorilla, Taylor and his multi-talented, multi-tracking production team polish these songs into three and four minute gems of popcraft, and they do so without ever compromising the emotional heart of the material. I’ve searched and I honestly cannot find a bad song on the album. Better than that, not even a weak one.
Both of these sides are rich, smooth, yet transparent and high-rez. The vocals are breathy, and again, that is not something we heard nearly enough of in our shootout.
And no hardness. This is key. And the best tonal balance, which is also key.
What the Best Sides of In The Pocket Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1976
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
We’re No Snobs
The critics have never had much love for In The Pocket, but I’ve always felt just the opposite — it’s one of my favorites of the JT canon, an absolute joy from first track to last. As a James Taylor fan I bought a copy as soon as it came out and proceeded to play it practically to death. At the time Rolling Stone magazine gave it a scathingly negative review, accusing Taylor of selling out for making a carefully-produced, sophisticated Soulful Pop Album. Plenty have derisively labeled it “slick”, but to my ear the material is very strong, with all the heart of his earlier albums. Glossy production values and a cast of the L.A. assembled multitudes is hardly cause to dismiss the emotional power of these songs.
As anyone who has spent any time at all on this site knows, we are no snobs when it comes to popular music, extending our tastes to even quite radio-friendly pop. We’re the audiophiles that admit to liking Bread and Sergio Mendes; you can’t get much more radio-friendly than that.
One of the top guys at Warners, Lee Herschberg recorded, mixed and mastered this album as well as Gorilla, Taylor’s previous release. You’ll also find Herschberg’s name in the credits of many of the best Ry Cooder, Doobie Brothers, Gordon Lightfoot and Frank Sinatra albums, titles we know to have excellent sound on the best copies — not to mention an album most audiophiles know all too well, Rickie Lee Jones’ debut. His pop and rock engineering credits run for pages. Won the Grammy for Strangers in the Night even.
The most amazing jazz piano trio recording we know of is on the list as well: The Three (Shelly Manne, Ray Brown and Joe Sample), along with most of the other Direct to Disc recordings released on Eastwind.
What We’re Listening For on In The Pocket
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Shower the People
A Junkie’s Lament
Slow Burning Love
Everybody Has the Blues
Daddy’s All Gone
Woman’s Gotta Have It
Captain Jim’s Drunken Dream
Don’t Be Sad ‘Cause Your Sun Is Down
Nothing Like a Hundred Miles
James Taylor’s seventh album and last new recording for Warner Bros. is notable for producing his biggest self-written hit in four years, “Shower the People”.
Bobby Womack’s “Woman’s Gotta Have It” was the album’s only cover, and elsewhere Taylor took on a surprisingly rough set of issues in his typically gentle style, including “A Junkie’s Lament” and “Money Machine.” There were also reflections on being a “Family Man” even if, due to his peripatetic touring life, “Daddy’s All Gone.”
Guest stars included Art Garfunkel, who harmonized on “Captain Jim’s Drunken Dream,” and Stevie Wonder, who co-wrote and played harmonica on “Don’t Be Sad ‘Cause Your Sun Is Down.”
In the Pocket is singer-songwriter James Taylor’s seventh studio album, and his last to be released under Warner Bros. Records before signing with Columbia.
One of his most memorable recordings, In the Pocket found Taylor working in the studio with many colleagues and friends, mainly Art Garfunkel (who duetted with him on “A Junkie’s Lament” and also contributed vocals on “Captain Jim’s Drunken Dream”), Carly Simon (Taylor’s wife, who harmonized with him on “Shower the People”), Stevie Wonder (who wrote with Taylor the song “Don’t Be Sad ‘Cause Your Sun Is Down”, a song on which he also played the harmonica) and also David Crosby, Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt, among others.
The result of the sessions, which took place between late 1975 and early ’76, was a melodic album, one of his most diverse and polished, highlighted with the single “Shower the People”, which through the years became a Taylor standard and concert favorite.
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