Melvin Taylor – Plays the Blues for You – Isabel/ PurePleasure PPAN 020 – stereo vinyl reissue – (orig. release 3/1984) ***1/2:

(Melvin Taylor – electric guitar, vocals; Lucky Peterson – organ, piano; Titus Williams – electric bass; Ray Adams – drums)

For European fans of classic Chicago electric blues, Melvin Taylor is a well-known commodity. As a member of Pinetop Perkins’ band, as well as the touring Legendary Blues Band (made up of Muddy Waters’ alumni), Taylor made a strong impression on the European blues scene in the 1980s. Recorded in March, 1984, in Paris, Plays the Blues for You is among the most definitive releases of  blues guitarist Melvin Taylor’s career. Melvin’s CD catalog is available on Evidence Records and includes this session originally recorded for Isabel Records. However to get the full-on experience of hearing an ace electric blues axeman in audiophile acoustics, the PurePleasure LP is the way to go for Taylor’s American audience with turntables.

Recorded when Melvin had just turned 25 years old, his guitar playing is fully formed and shows both his blues prowess as well as jazz guitar chops that have a definite Wes Montgomery influence. Taylor’s playing is not showy, but precise and clean.

Melvin gets down to business on “Voodoo Daddy.” It is on the two part “Talking to Anna-Mae” where he really shines. It’s a standard blues arrangement where he can really stretch out and bend notes. He is mostly workmanlike on the vocal tracks with a clear indebtedness to Albert King. (King will always be known for the title track).

The presence of organist Lucky Peterson sets this vinyl above the rote electric guitar with bass and drum sessions. Peterson was still a teenager when this recording was made, and would go on to be a major talent, equally adept at keyboard and guitar. Here he spices up the mix with a percolating quality that clearly inspires Taylor. Lucky is a co-conspirator wherever he appears and breathes a vibrancy to the proceedings. At age 19, he already was a force to be reckoned with.  A nice bonus on the set list is “Tribute to Wes” where Melvin pays tribute to Wes Montgomery.


Side A: Talking to Anna-Mae(Part 1), T.V Mama, I’ll Play the Blues for You, Born to Loose, Tribute to Wes
Side B: Cadillac Assembly Line, Voodoo Daddy, Talking to Anna-Mae (Part 2), Groovin’ in Paris

—Jeff Krow