- Timeline See what happened in 1968
- UK release date:
- Dec 06, 1968
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Don't Talk Now
Knocking 'Round the Zoo
Taking It In
Something in the Way She Moves
Brighten Your Night With My Day
Rainy Day Man
Circle Round the Sun
Blues Is Just a Bad Dream
James Taylor is singer-songwriter James Taylor‘s debut studio album. Released in 1968, it was the first recording by a non-British artist released by Apple Records, and would also be Taylor’s only release on that label. The album was released under the title First Album on the South African market.
The album was produced by Peter Asher, who was A&R head for The Beatles’ newly formed label Apple Records. Taylor recorded the album from July to October 1968 at Trident Studios, at the same time The Beatles were recording The White Album. Trident was the most technologically advanced studio in England at the time and was in high demand; some session time booked by The Beatles was used instead to record Taylor’s album. Paul McCartney and Peter Asher brought in arranger Richard Hewson to add orchestrations to several of the songs and unusual “link” passages in between them; these would receive a mixed reception at best.
Notable songs include the Taylor classics “Something in the Way She Moves,” “Carolina in My Mind” and “Rainy Day Man“. McCartney and an uncredited George Harrison guested on “Carolina in My Mind“, the lyric of which, “holy host of others standing around me“, made reference to the Beatles, while the title phrase of Taylor’s “Something in the Way She Moves” provided the starting point for Harrison’s classic “Something.” (Coincidentally, Taylor has said he had meant for the song to be called “I Feel Fine” – after a dominant line in the chorus – but the title had already been taken by a “Beatles song.“) Taylor also recorded a very early version of “Fire and Rain,” which would be his breakthrough hit on his second album, but Asher did not choose it for the album release.
Release and reception
The album was released by Apple Records in December 1968 in the UK and February 1969 in the US. Critical reaction was generally good, including a very positive Jon Landau review in Rolling Stone that said “this album is the coolest breath of fresh air I’ve inhaled in a good long while. It knocks me out.” The record’s commercial potential suffered from Taylor’s inability to promote it due to his hospitalization for drug addiction and it sold poorly. “Carolina in My Mind” b/w “Something’s Wrong” was released as a single in the UK (APPLE 32) in February 1969, but failed to chart. It was released as a single in US (Apple 1805) in March 1969, but only reached #118 in the US. “Knocking ‘Round the Zoo” was released as a single in France (APF 506) backed with “Something’s Wrong.”
Because of the difficulty of obtaining licensing rights from Apple during the 1970s, “Something in the Way She Moves” and “Carolina in My Mind” were re-recorded in 1976 for Taylor’s Greatest Hits album.