While his tenure with The Rolling Stones lasted only five years, Mick Taylor sure made an impression. His fluid, dirty pretty style remains many fans all-time favorite guitar voice (outside of dear ol' Keith's madly brilliant plinking) in the band, and despite decades with Ron Wood filling his shoes there's just no shaking the impact - on the Stones and rock 'n' roll in general - Taylor made in his brief time in their circus. For all that came before or after, the Stones will always be defined in many ways by the albums and tours Taylor was an integral part of. Just his opening salvos with the band when he was asked to jump in for a recently fired Brian Jones - Country Honk" and Live With Me" on Let It Bleed and the single Honky Tonk Women" - speak to the enduring whomp of Taylor's playing. Taylor showed himself a strong songwriter, too, co-penning Stones classics like Moonlight Mile" and Sway" with Mick Jagger and enlivening stone cold masterpieces Sticky Fingers, Get Yer Ya-Yas Out!, Exile On Main Street, Goat's Head Soup and It's Only Rock 'n Roll with his inspired guitar work before quitting in 1974. Even after leaving his fingerprints kept appearing, like his sinewy playing on Waiting For a Friend," which was recorded in 1972 but not released until 1981's Tattoo You.
Taylor has remained an active, enjoyable musician in the years since his departure, mostly working in his own bands but also hooking up with the likes of Bob Dylan, Jack Bruce, Alvin Lee (Ten Years After), former boss from his teenage years John Mayall and recently with the Experience Hendrix project. We wish him a very happy birthday on his 60th and thank him for the great good he's done rock and freakin' roll.
We begin with a stunning Love In Vain" from 1972. Taylor's slide will crack you open and let the blues pour right on in.
Yeah, the video is a shaky, audience shot stuff but the audio is just fine on this Mick Taylor sit-in on West L.A. Fadeaway" with the Grateful Dead at Madison Square Garden on September 24, 1988.
Let's stay in Caucasian funk mode a bit longer. Here's Taylor with Cream's Jack Bruce on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975.
And the good company just keeps on rolling as Taylor joins Little Feat in London for A Apolitical Blues" in 1977. Lowell George seems to be having a high time with his sparring partner here.
Back to the Stones in 1972 with a barnstorming version of Midnight Rambler" from the film Ladies and Gentlemen - The Rolling Stones.
Next, we're off the Marquee Club in 1971 for a fabulous Live With Me." Even in a long, long career of bizarre fashion choices, Mick's ensemble here is noteworthy.
One of Taylor's major achievements as a Rolling Stone was helping the lads incorporate country music so seamlessly into their blues rock stew. We stay at the same '71 Marquee Club gig for a primo example of Stonesian twang, Dead Flowers," where Taylor weaves silver lines throughout.
The Bluesbreakers reunited in 1982 and everyone from John Mayall on through Mick Taylor really shone on the U.S. tour that year, where audiences were treated to jewels like this simmering take on Buddy Guy's My Time After Awhile."
We close with the Stones in their '72 fightin' peak on All Down The Line." While Keith has the more obvious Chuck Berry licks, it's Taylor who enchants with some of the sleaziest slide work ever laid down by anybody, anywhere, anytime. May this be a fine new decade for you, Mr. Taylor. We're sure glad you were born. Thanks for the rock 'n' roll, man.
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