Happy Anniversary: James Taylor, MUD SLIDE SLIM AND THE BLUE HORIZON
47 years today, James Taylor released his studio album of his career, an LP which would go on to provide Taylor with the first and - at least as it stands as of this writing - only #1 pop hit of his career.
Produced by Peter Asher at Crystal Sounds Studios in Los Angeles, MUD SLIDE SLIM AND THE BLUE HORIZON arrived just over a year after Taylor's Warner Brothers debut, SWEET BABY JAMES, which provided him with the first huge hit single of his career ("Fire and Rain") as well as his first top-5 album. As such, Taylor was in a position where his best possible option was to pull out all the stops and build on the major momentum he was experienced, which is exactly what he did.
The success of MUD SLIDE SLIM was heavily driven by Taylor's cover of Carole King's "You've Got A Friend," and in a great moment of pop chart irony, it was King's TAPESTRY album which refused to let go of the top spot on the Billboard 200, thereby keeping MUD SLIDE SLIM's chart high at #2, not that there's anything wrong with a showing like that. (It's also probable that there were no hard feelings, given that King herself played on Taylor's album.) In addition to "You've Got A Friend," which hit #1 on the Hot 100, Taylor also scored a top-40 hit with "Long Ago and Far Away," which climbed to #31.
When Rolling Stone reviewed the album, they doled out the full five stars for Taylor's efforts, saying that "Mud Slide Slim broods about James Taylor, songster and runaway phenomenon, and expresses his ambivalence and impotence in the face of it all." That's heavy, man. Better to just sit back, listen, and enjoy the stories and songs that Taylor spins. They still hold up.