Steamroller Blues

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"Steamroller Blues"
Song by James Taylor from the album Sweet Baby James
Released 1970
Recorded December, 1969 at Sunset Sound
Genre Blues
Length 2:57
Label Warner Bros. Records
Writer(s) James Taylor
Producer(s) Peter Asher
James Taylor in a 1970s publicity photo

"Steamroller Blues" (aka "Steamroller"), is a blues parody written by James Taylor, that appeared on his 1970 album Sweet Baby James. It was intended to "mock" the inauthentic blues bands of the day. The song later appeared on two of Taylor's compilation albums and has been recorded by a variety of other artists.

Origin and recording[edit]

Rock journalist David Browne wrote that "[d]uring the Flying Machine days in the Village, Taylor had heard one too many pretentious white blues bands and wrote Steamroller to mock them."[1] Rolling Stone Album Guide critic Mark Coleman, said Taylor's song "effectively mocks the straining pomposity of then-current white bluesmen."[2]

Taylor and Danny Kortchmar, both playing electric guitars, laid down the track in one night at Sunset Studios, the rhythm section being added later. A tight budget and production schedule forced Taylor to record the song despite suffering from a head cold.[3]

The song was included on Taylor's diamond-selling Greatest Hits 1976 compilation using a live version recorded in August 1975 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. Another performance, from 1992, was included on his 1993 album (LIVE).

Cover versions[edit]

During the 1970s Elvis Presley added "Steamroller Blues" to his concert repertoire and included it on his live album Aloha From Hawaii: Via Satellite. Presley also released it as a single in March 1973 and the song reached number 17 on the U.S. pop singles chart. It was later included on Presley's 2007 compilation The Essential Elvis Presley.

Taylor's song was recorded by country music singer Billy Dean and appeared on his 1994 album Fire in the Dark.

Isaac Hayes performed the song on an episode of The A-Team.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970 (2011: Boston, Da Capo Press), p. 62
  2. ^ Coleman, M. (1992). DeCurtis, A.; Henke, J.; George-Warren, H., eds. The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Straight Arrow Publishers. p. 293. ISBN 0679737294. 
  3. ^ Browne ibid., p. 63