The James Taylor Quartet - on Acid Jazz Records

The James Taylor Quartet

The James Taylor Quartet

There is a theory that James Taylor really started the acid jazz scene. It’s probably true. James Taylor was the organist in the proto-mod psych outfit The Prisoners, who had single-handedly breathed some life into the increasingly moribund mod scene in the mid 80s. The Prisoners were signed to Stiff and following the label’s demise soon split. Taylor announced that he was giving up music and was relocating to Stockholm. Before he went though, Eddie Piller (who had been The Prisoners A&R man at Stiff) persuaded him to record a few mod-inspired film themes at a tiny four track studio in the Medway. Taylor sent the tapes in to Piller’s pre-Acid Jazz label (Re-Elect The President), emigrated and promptly forgot all about it.Some eight months later the debut 45, the theme from Blow Up appeared – the reaction was staggering. Initially, Gary Crowley championed the record on BBC Radio London but the real explosion came when John Peel called Piller one day to announce that he was in love with the simplicity and energy of the single – ‘did James have anything else?’ he asked. Piller sent him a tape of the rest of the material recorded in the JTQ’s first studio session and was rewarded a couple of days later when Peel called back and asked if the James Taylor Quartet would care to come into the BBC and record a session for him. This caused a massive problem because there wasn’t really a James Taylor Quartet at the time as James had quit the industry and wasn’t even in the country. Piller knew that a Peel Session was the holy grail for the indie scene so he agreed to a date for the session and then set about convincing Taylor to return from Sweden. Taylor eventually agreed and recruited a band for the session. They included former Prisoner Allan Crockford as well as two members of The Daggermen – Taylor’s younger brother David and (later hugely successful artist and Billy Childish collaborator) Wolf Howard.With the Peel session under their belt and the radio legend’s constant support and encouragement, the JTQ moved from strength to strength. Blow Up spent several months in the upper echelons of the indie chart, the Mission Impossible album followed and James moved back to the Medway to start his new career. The JTQ recorded two albums for Re-Elect The President before signing to Polydor and releasing the hit single Starsky & Hutch with three full-length albums and then on to Big Life. It was ’93 before Piller brought James Taylor and his (by now) ever expanding Quartet ‘home’ to Acid Jazz and to rekindle their earlier relationship.Acid Jazz immediately re-released Mission Impossible and The Money Spyder (which had never been available on CD) whilst the JTQ recorded the brilliant In The Hand Of The Inevitable, the band’s career defining Gold album. Several line up changes have followed but it is safe to say that his tightest, genre defining band featured Gary Crocket on bass, David Taylor on guitar and John Wilmott (who also recorded his own, very early album on the label with the Apostles) on sax and flute and vocalist Noel McKoy.The JTQ continue to be a very popular live draw and have now released over 20 albums on more than ten different labels, but it is the groundbreaking album In The Hand Of The Inevitable that showcased their best work.

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