Fantasizing About Being Black
Review by David Bowling
It is always with a sense of anticipation that I wait for each new release by Otis Taylor. It is not just that he is one of the best bluesmen working today, but that each album has a theme and individual presence all its own. 2013’s My World Is Gone incorporated Native American rhythm’s into a blues framework as he explored the plight of America’s original people. 2015’s Hey Joe Opus/Red Meat found him fusing a west coast psychedelic sound with his well-honed blues. Now he has changed direction again.
Fantasizing About Being Black is an 11 chapter history lesson of the Afro-American experience. The message is start and direct, while the music ranges from primitive to sophisticated. He particularly uses violinist Anne Harris to soften the harshness of his approach. Through it all he remains true to a blues framework and format.
Each song message set the stage for the one to follow until they meld into a cohesive whole. “Banjo Bam Bam” is a primitive story of slavery. “D To E Blues” is an ode to a father-son relationship; Chicago blues style. “Jump Out Of Line” is a look back at the Civil Rights Movement. “Jump To Mexico” explores the difficulties of interracial relationships. “Roll On Down The Hill” is an inspirational call to resist.
Fantasizing About Being Black may not be an easy listen but it is heartfelt and passionate. It is also an important contribution to Afro-American history from a musical perspective and that fact makes all the difference.