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Chip Taylor

New Songs of Freedom – 2008 (Train Wreck)

Reviewed by Don Armstrong

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CDs by Chip Taylor

Hit versions of Chip Taylor's composition "Wild Thing" were released by The Troggs, Jimi Hendrix and, most curiously, the rapper Tone-Loc. Now Taylor reciprocates with a "mini-album" (58 minutes, 7 songs plus intros and outtakes) full of cross-genre influences, including the rhymes and sound collages of hip hop and the political themes of '60s folk and rock. Of course, Taylor's vocals have always been a cross between singing and speaking. The couplet structure of "Dance With a Hole in Your Shoe" is new, however, and Taylor's suggestion for dealing with bullies ("make his nose bloody...knee him in the balls") is also likely to remind listeners of early rap.

In "Former American Soldier," Taylor tells of troops abandoned in southeast Asia in 1975. He is on surer footing in the less-direct, rock-flavored title track, bolstered with sound clips of presidents from FDR to Reagan, and on the warmly lilting "Sunshine's a Waterfall." He looks back sadly yet longingly at the idealism and tragedies of last century in "Black and Blue America," a song overlooked when it was released in 2001 because of 9/11, the liner notes explain. It is paired here with material from upcoming projects in a release as much about marketing as music and message.