Otis Taylor - Respect The Dead Reviews


"This is by far one of the most haunting, stripped down blues CDs ever produced. Get prepared to hear John Lee Hooker style blues meshing with TwinPeaks atmospheric backgrounds. Sort of a 'Hooker goes Goth' kind of sound."

-Joe Grace
July/August, 2002 


"A dissonant, driving banjo strum opens "Ten Million Salves," the first tune on bluesman Otis Taylor's 'Respect the Dead'. Its relentless, pulsating rhythm servers as a counterpoint to Taylor's impassioned vocals, which bewail the hellish voyage of the Middle Passage. As on his critically acclaimed White African, many of the tunes here contain only two or three chords and lack a discernable chorus or anything resembling a 12-bar structure. But multi-instrumentalist Taylor makes the most of this minimalist approach. Aided by bassist Eddie Turner, Taylor crafts moody sermons about race, love, and death that linger long after the tunes end. One can hear strains of John Lee Hooker, but Taylor is fashioning his own blues, with echoes of rap, electronica, and African Music."

-Ian Zack
Acoustic Guitar magazine
September 2002 


"Respect the Dead is blessed by the spirits of the past and grants a vision of the future blues. Taylor has inherited the soul-possessing Mississippi moan of John Lee Hooker, the talking-harmonica skills of Sonny Terry, and the indomitable aura of Muddy Waters. This deep sense of tradition is matched by lyrics which are equal parts poetry and politics. Ten Million Slaves is self-explanatory, 32nd Time pays tribute to the white Freedom Riders who joined the civil rights marches of the '60s. Kenny Passarelli's production is reminiscent of Eno and Byrne's 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts'. Eddie Turner's cyber-slide guitar sings, tumbling banjos speak of the South and keyboard washes bind the whole. Rural, urban, universal -- Taylor is destined to be one of the blues greats."

-Joe Cushley
July, 2002 


"Voice and passion complete the arsenal Taylor uses to fight against injustices, both personal and global. The result, Respect The Dead, is a truly stunning follow-up to last year's equally amazing White African."

-Lou Friedman
Spring, 2002 


"Otis Taylor wrestles with demons and apparitions and he enlightens injustice and presents a totally new experience. Production values are crystal with amazing imaging and clarity."

-Mark Gresser
Music Matters Review
March 26, 2002 


"Respect the Dead is the culmination of that vision and, like White African, one of the most vital blues albums in years."

-Michael Toland
High Bias
April 21, 2002 


"With the propulsive feeling to the songs on Respect the Dead, the movement akin to the swirling, fast-moving waters of the mighty Mississippi river, Otis Taylor seems to have planted the seed for blues in this new millennium."

-Bill Ribas
April, 2002 


"Taylor is a rare talent, and this is easily one of the most important blues albums of 2002."

April 20, 2002 


"After just one listen to this disc, I sit in amazement, wondering just how it is Taylor hasn't been hailed as one of the greatest musicians of our time."

-Jon Worley
Aiding and Abetting
April, 2002 


"With last year's release of White African, Otis Taylor moved to the front of the acoustic-bluesman pack. With Respect the Dead, the lead lengthens. While the hard-strummed minimalist brilliance of African is reprised here, Taylor, by giving more manoevre to his band, adds backing depth to a musical stream of historical consciousness. A fuzzed-out guitar line completes the plucked banjo on Ten Million Slaves, while humming Hammond and eerie slide-work add haunt to Hands on Your Stomach and Shaker Woman.

The end result is a high-wound, tension-building mix of bad-day Richie Havens and psychedelic Hooker. The songs are decidedly dark: bound slaves for passage; a doomed love triangle; a Mexican girl is killed during a road race. That Otis Taylor is not betterknown is just one more tragedy.****"

-Brad Wheeler
Globe & Mail, Toronto
April 4, 2002 


"Churning one-chord Mississippi blues, African rhythms, and electronically intensified guitar riffs all blend into a terrain no other contemporary bluesman is exploring. In fact, this may be the sound of genius."

-Ted Drozdowski
Spring, 2002 


"Tracks such as "Hands on Your Stomach" and "Changing Rules," where a single riff is constantly repeated, recalling the stark Afro-blues of Ali Farka Toure, explore terrifying territory as Taylor's overdubbed echoed howls and Turner's psychedelic Ry Cooder-style guitar lines seem animalistic as they slither between the verses."

-Hal Horowitz
CDNOW Contributing Writer
Spring, 2002 


"A mix of rock, blues and folk, Otis Taylor's music is many things, but it's not pretty. Soulful. Intense. Haunting. Infectious. The overall tone is that of something rising from a black smoky vapor to hiss at you. It's not long into the CD that you recognize he's tapped into something almost unexplainable to create this masterpiece."

-Les Reynolds
March 31, 2002 


"Taylor's blues are so refreshing. His songs offer an intensely meaningful and deep look at their subject (think Big Jack Johnson or Willie King) and the music is highly creative and enjoyable. Following up an effort as strong as White African would be a tough task for most artists. Otis Taylor has done that and more with apparent ease. I think this disc is even stronger both musically and lyrically. Pretty impressive, considering both were done within the span of about a year. Otis Taylor seems to have it all going for him...a great band featuring the bass of Kenny Passarelli (who also produces and arranges), very creative lead guitar by Eddie Turner, well-placed backing vocals from Cassie Taylor and Otis Taylor playing beautifully on at least five different instruments; the ability to write great songs; and a label (Northern Blues out of Toronto) that seems to be allowing him to display his immense talents in the directions that he sees fit. This disc has to deserve very serious consideration for the Handy award for best blues album for 2002."

Spring, 2002 


"Where others seem content with the established limits, Taylor is pushing them further and further - and in doing so, he's making some of the most exciting music around."

-Chris Nickson
All Music Guide
Spring, 2002 


"Respect The Dead is not all about hot guitar licks, funky bass beats or screeching vocals. Instead, this CD showcases the talents of a man who is quickly becoming one of the more talented and creative songwriters in today's blues world."

-Bill Mitchell
Blues Bytes
March, 2002 


"Otis Taylor's new NorthernBlues release, Respect the Dead, is as passionate, angry and poetic as his W.C. Handy-nominated CD, White African. His CDs are history lessons and celebrations of the blues all in one. This time out, he continues his sharp-edged blues with a dozen tracks of acoustic blues steeped in history, like "Ten Million Slaves", "Changing Rules", and "Jump Jelly Belly," the latter about a company of African-American troops in World War II. The centerfold of the CD surely will inspire Taylor next time out as it depicts the home of the 10th US Cavalry at Fort Huachuca, Arizone, the home of the Buffalo Soldier (the term American Indians used to describe African-American soldier's hair). Otis Taylor's touring more this year, and blues clubs and festivals are the richer for it. Here's one bluesman not to be missed."

-Eric Steiner
Cosmik Debris
March, 2002 


"...a very honest and impressive
encounter with a 'thinking' bluesman.

-Richard Bourcier
Senior Staff Writer
The Jazz Review
March 12, 2002 


"Otis Taylor's Hard Poetry is more demanding than pretty..."

-Norm Provencher
Ottawa Citizen
March 2, 2002 

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