Tony Scherman
September 08, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

To late-’60s rock fans reeling from psychedelia, Taj Mahal’s sturdy blues were a breath of fresh air. Taj Mahal (like all of these, previously unavailable Stateside on CD) explodes with high spirits; of Taj’s 30-plus albums, it might be the best. Natch’l Blues (’68) was lower-key, a supple smile of an album, while ’71’s The Real Thing, marred only by overlong jams, kicked butt live at the Fillmore East. Best of Taj Mahal draws from his first nine LPs, some of which remain out of print.
Taj Mahal: A
Natch’l Blues: A-
The Real Thing: B+
The Best of Taj Mahal: A

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