Album Mini-review: Otis Taylor — Fantasizing About Being Black
File next to Ali Farka Touré, Robert Johnson, Miles Davis
Otis Taylor is one of the foremost modern-day practitioners of the blues. He doesn’t make bar-band electric blues; instead, his largely acoustic approach to the form is built upon the Delta traditions of old, delivered with a decidedly contemporary mindset. Honored recipient of a dozen Blues Music Awards, Taylor has tackled the subject of racism head-on in Fantasizing About Being Black, his 15th album. Strictly speaking, Taylor’s choice of spare instrumentation and arrangements is repetitive; in practice it’s better described as trance-focused. That musical backdrop – with hauntingly effective use of cornet providing running counter-melody – helps keep the focus on the songwriter’s impassioned, thoughtful ruminations. Songs like “Jump Jelly Belly” often confine themselves to a single chord. And when Taylor does go electric – as on “Hands On Your Stomach” the trance vibe remains present, albeit in amped-up fashion.
About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.