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Oldies 21/11/2020

James Taylor Shares Surprise 3-Track Collection Over The Rainbow - The American Standard EP

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New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Just in time for Thanksgiving, legendary singer-songwriter James Taylor has shared a surprise new 3-Track collection, Over The Rainbow - The American Standard EP, a companion to his acclaimed album, American Standard, released earlier this year.

The EP features three performances from the American Standard sessions including Taylor's previously unreleased moving interpretation of The Wizard of Oz Classic, "Over The Rainbow," written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, along with Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner's "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face," from the 1956 musical My Fair Lady, and "Never Never Land," written by Jules Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green for the 1954 musical Peter Pan. ("I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face" and "Never Never Land" were previously available as CD exclusives only. All three songs are now available for the first time digitally.) Watch the "Over The Rainbow" visualizer BELOW

On American Standard, released February 28th, 2020, Taylor infused new sounds and fresh meaning into some of the most beloved songs of the 20th century, reimagining these enduring works of art and making them completely his own.

James Taylor's statement on Over The Rainbow - The American Standard EP: I'm so glad these three songs are getting a general release. We cut more songs than would fit on the album, American Standard, which made the promotion department happy. They find uses for the extra tracks, usually as "exclusive" material for the big box retailers. But I've regretted not giving these three pieces the exposure I think they deserve.

My solo guitar version of "Over the Rainbow" has two points worth mentioning: first it keeps Yip Harburg's original introductory verse, which is rare, though the song is forever popular. And second: its arrangement has more variations than any other "Rainbow" I've heard - it's one chordy chart.

"I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face" is from one of my parents' favorite records, the cast recording of Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady. "... damn, damn, damn, damn, damn... I've grown accustomed to her face..." Henry Higgins reluctantly realizes that he loves Liza Doolittle. Stuart Duncan plays a lovely tuned-down violin.

Another favorite from that family record collection was yet another cast album from another Broadway musical: Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin. My little brother, Livingston beat me to it years ago but here, also, is my version of the dreamy idyl, "Never Never Land."
Thank you for listening...

The 14 selections on American Standard naturally feature Taylor's one-of-a-kind vocal ability and incomparable musicianship, but what makes the album unique is the inventive way he and fellow co-producers, Dave O'Donnell and master guitarist John Pizzarelli, approached the project ¾ beautifully simple, stripped-down guitar arrangements based on Taylor's and Pizzarelli's skillful guitar work rather than the more traditional piano. The effect is mesmerizing.

A small sampling of the album's inspired repertoire includes Taylor's' swinging take on Walter Donaldson and George A. Whiting's "My Blue Heaven," Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner's enduring "Almost Like Being In Love," from the score of Brigadoon; Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington's enchanting "The Nearness Of You," Frank Loesser's jaunty "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," from the Broadway smash Guys and Dolls; Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's piercing social commentary from South Pacific, "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught," a superb reading of the Billie Holiday-Arthur Herzog Jr. classic, "God Bless The Child," and the first ever cover of a song originally featured in the 1938 Merrie Melodies cartoon Katnip Kollege, "As Easy As Rolling Off A Log."

American Standard, the 19th album of Taylor's illustrious career, was greeted with glowing reviews and major chart entries around the world. The collection sold over 82,000 equivalent album units in its first week, debuting at #4 on Billboard's Top 200 Album chart and #1 on its Top Album Sales, Top Rock, and Top Americana/Folk charts. American Standard is Taylor's 13th Top 10 album overall and with it, he became the first artist ever with Top 10 albums in each of the last six decades. Impressive international chart debuts included a #1 Canadian chart entry and #11 in the UK (where it was also the #1 sales album.)

The album's wealth of enthusiastic praise includes the U.K.'s Independent who called it, "the American songbook elegantly traced," and USA Today who affirmed, "American Standard covers the Great American Songbook faithfully and masterfully," while Elmore raved, "American Standard is a work of genius, of giant beauty and spiritual generosity. Instantly recognizable as a GRAMMY contender."

James Taylor: Over The Rainbow - The American Standard EP TRACKLIST:
"I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face" (Frederick Loewe- Alan Jay Lerner)
"Never Never Land" (Jule Styne-Betty Comden-Adolph Green)
"Over The Rainbow" (Harold Arlen-Yip Harburg)
Stream/purchase the Over The Rainbow - The American Standard EP BELOW.
Stream/Purchase American Standard BELOW.

As a recording and touring artist, James Taylor has touched people with his warm baritone voice and distinctive style of guitar-playing for more than 50 years, while setting a precedent to which countless young musicians have aspired. Over the course of his celebrated songwriting and performing career, Taylor has sold more than 100 million albums, earning gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards since the release of his self-titled debut album in 1968. In 2015, Taylor released Before This World, the first-ever #1 album of his illustrious career. Taylor has won multiple GRAMMY Awards, has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll and the prestigious Songwriters Halls of Fame and in February 2006, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences selected him its MUSICARES Person of the Year. Taylor was also awarded the distinguished Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government and the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama in 2012. In November of 2015, Taylor was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation's highest civilian honour and in December of 2016 he received the Kennedy Center Honors, which are presented annually to individuals who have enriched American culture by distinguished achievement in the performing arts.

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