The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

James Taylor’s “Flag” and “Dad Loves His Work” Due On SACD

with 2 comments

In 1977, James Taylor jumped ship from Warner Bros. Records, his home between 1970 and 1976, for the greener pastures of Columbia.  His longtime producer Peter Asher joined him, and JT marked their first effort at the new label.  Taylor was rapidly rewarded, as JT spawned the hit singles “Your Smiling Face” and “Handy Man,” the latter of which snagged the singer a Grammy Award.  It was his highest-charting album since 1971’s Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, but Taylor took his time for a follow-up.  Flag didn’t arrive until almost two full years later, in May 1979.  Just last week, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released its first James Taylor hybrid SACD (playable on all CD players), appropriately starting with JT. The next two SACD titles have been confirmed by Music Direct and are available for pre-order, and they continue Taylor’s Columbia catalogue chronologically.  Flag and 1981’s Dad Loves His Work both were platinum sellers, and the former is a bit of a surprise.  Mobile Fidelity first announced Dad Loves His Work last November, so it’s a welcome surprise that Flag has joined it for release.  In addition, both titles will be available on 180-gram vinyl.  (Audio Fidelity has concurrently been taking on the task of bringing Taylor’s Warner Bros. albums up to audiophile standard as 24k gold CDs, and that label just recently confirmed reissue of Taylor’s then-wife Carly Simon’s No Secrets in that format.)

At the time of its release, Flag was inevitably perceived as a disappointment, coming off the highly successful JT.  It is a bit of a crazy quilt of the various musical strands running through Taylor’s head at the time.  Hence, the album includes two covers, one of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper” and the other a Carole King/Gerry Goffin song that became closely identified with the artist: “Up on the Roof.”  Taylor, Asher and his usual team of musicians (including Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, Leland Sklar and Russ Kunkel, all of whom joined Taylor and King for their 2010 Troubadour tour) found a gentle groove in the old Drifters hit, emphasizing the melancholy and wistful quality of the song that resonated with listeners.  Taylor reworked his own “Rainy Day Man” for his new label, and among the other new compositions on Flag included recordings of two songs penned for Stephen Schwartz’s Broadway musical Working, “Brother Trucker” and “Millworker.”  The latter, in particular, is among the strongest songs written by Taylor, and remains the favorite of Working director Schwartz, a composer and lyricist himself (Godspell, Wicked).

Hit the jump for a look at Dad Loves His Work, plus complete track listings with discography and pre-order links for both titles!

In 1981, James was “Dad” to daughter Sally (born in 1974) and son Ben (born in 1977), though his marriage to their mother Carly Simon was rapidly disintegrating.  Married since 1972, they would divorce in 1983.  Dad Loves His Work was a more intensely personal album than Flag, with the artist reflecting on his own familial relationships including his relationship with Simon.  Carly inspired the album title when she expressed a desire that Taylor spend more time with his family; “Dad loves his work” was his reported response.  Despite battling addictions to both alcohol and heroin, he turned out a sublime set of songs that were specific but ultimately universal.  He teamed with J.D. Souther as both co-writer and singer on “Her Town, Too” which climbed both the Pop and AC charts and helped the album score another platinum success.  Another collaborative effort was undertaken with Jimmy Buffett, who co-wrote “Sugar Trade” with Taylor.  Jennifer Warnes was another guest, contributing background vocals to the LP.

Both Dad Loves His Work and Flag were released by Columbia in the SACD format, although both are out-of-print and Flag particularly difficult to obtain.  Those discs had multichannel programs, too, whereas Mobile Fidelity’s hybrid SACDs are stereo-only.  Mobile Fidelity has fully remastered both titles for these limited edition releases.  Both titles are available for pre-order now from Music Direct, with general retail release dates TBD.  Pre-order links can be found below!

James Taylor, Flag (Columbia PC-36058, 1979 – reissued Mobile Fidelity SACD CMFSA-2071 and LP LMF-355, 2011)

  1. Company Man
  2. Johnnie Come Back
  3. Day Tripper
  4. I Will Not Lie For You
  5. Brother Trucker
  6. Is That The Way You Look?
  7. B.S.U.R.
  8. Rainy Day Man
  9. Millworker
  10. Up on the Roof
  11. Chanson Française
  12. Sleep Come Free Me

James Taylor, Dad Loves His Work (Columbia TC-37009, 1981 – reissued Mobile Fidelity SACD CMFSA-2072 and LP LMF-356, 2011)

  1. Hard Times
  2. Her Town Too
  3. Hour That the Morning Cames
  4. I Will Follow
  5. Believe It or Not
  6. Stand and Fight
  7. Only for Me
  8. Summer’s Here
  9. Sugar Trade
  10. London Town
  11. That Lonesome Road

Written by Joe Marchese

June 9, 2011 at 10:21

Posted in James Taylor, News, Reissues

2 Responses

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  1. “MIllworker” is a wonderful song… One that I’d like to hear stripped down to its basics. Actually, I have heard it that way. When Springsteen performed it at a tribute to JT a few years ago. He should record that song.


    June 9, 2011 at 23:41

    • “Millworker” is a favorite of mine, too, Shaun. I’d love to see Springsteen’s recording released commercially in audio form; he really embodies one of Taylor’s finest character studies.

      Joe Marchese

      June 9, 2011 at 23:58

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