Chip Taylor Reissued

(PR) Chip Taylor, best known for penning hits like “Wild Thing” and “Angel of the Morning” as well as his more recent critically acclaimed duo albums with Carrie Rodriguez, had a nearly secret recording career in the 1970s. Signed to Warner Bros. as a solo artist, Chip recorded three country albums, the last of which – This Side of the Big River – is about to be reissued on Collectors’ Choice Music on February 20.

The trouble with Chip Taylor recording country albums — other than that he was a New York native known for rock and pop hits — was that Warner Bros. Records didn’t have a Nashville division at the time. Taylor was Warner Nashville’s first artist. A song from his 1974 album Some of Us titled “Me As I Am” was the label’s first charting country record. Still, the albums themselves did little, and Taylor feared he’d be dropped after his two-album contract expired. Ah, but it pays to have fans at the label. A promotion man who’d been asked to stop promoting the Taylor album had promoted it on his own time at night, catapulting the song onto the charts. Finally the head of the Nashville division said, “How the hell can we drop Chip Taylor? He’s our first country hit artist.” So he got to record a third album: This Side of the River.

White Plains, N.Y. is not known as a country hotbed, but that’s where Taylor retreated to record the album. He enlisted Nashville steel player Pete Drake along with fiddler Buddy Spicher. The Jordanaires, fresh from several Elvis sessions, sang backups. Multi-instrumentalist Sandy Bull added oud to a couple of songs. Three of the basic tracks (“Big River,” “John Tucker” and “You’re Alright Charlie” – the latter a tribute to his friend and business associated Charlie Knoblock) – were lifted from a radio appearance in New Hampshire.

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