"Happy Just To Be Like I Am" was out of print for some time, and it often falls between the cracks when Taj Mahal's early recordings are assessed, but this 1971 album is a prime example of the unique stylistic fusion Taj was going for on his early-'70s releases. It's a joyful collision of old-time jug-band music ("Stealin'"), folk ("Oh Susanna"), blues, and steel-drum-driven Caribbean sounds ("West Indian Revelation"). Holding the whole thing together, as always, is Taj's rich, soulful vocal style, not to mention his visceral acoustic fingerpicking approach. "Happy Just To Be Like I Am" stands as an unjustly overlooked entry in Taj Mahal's catalog, worthy of a reassessment.
From the extraordinary recordings of the true guitar evangelists Blind Willie Johnson and Reverend Gary Davis to classic spiritual renditions by legendary bluesmen Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Skip James, this handpicked selection highlights the mutual influence between Gospel and blues.