Sleepy John Estes’ Diving Duck Blues and Sonny Boy Williamson’s Checkin' Up On My Baby both get a lively workout, as does Oh Susanna, which demonstrates that just about anything can become grist to the Taj Mahal mill, bopping along firmly in blues boogie mould with nary a yee ha in sight. The run through Bacon Fat will sound awfully familiar to anyone acquainted with Giant Steps, which is fine with me, and a live Tomorrow May Not Be Your Day winds things up rather neatly. Overall, the live disc mightn’t be the best possible live Taj, but it is Taj, it is live, and it has its own charm, largely based on the man’s inherent musical taste and the quality of the accompaniment.

As a whole, The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal 1969-1973 mightn’t be likely to set the musical world alight, but that was never the aim of the exercise. The studio disc has a couple of gems, and the material is never less than interesting, and at around an hour and a quarter you’re not going to be complaining about length, though mileages may vary when it comes to extended workouts of ideas that might not have been fully thought out.

The live set’s a bit shorter, but it’s good, solid live Taj, minus flash and pyrotechnics but with feel and soul, which will do this listener on most days of the week.

As a harbinger of archival reissue series, on the other hand, Hidden Treasures suggests there are enough goodies sitting in the vaults to have long term fans licking their lips in anticipation of things to come.

© Ian Hughes 2012