James Taylor‘s older brother Alex Taylor was a big influence on him, his siblings (Kate Taylor and Livingston Taylor have often cited him), and others (perhaps most significantly, the Blues Brothers).
Despite a great reputation as a powerhouse of a singer, live performer and interpreter of songs, his commercial success was limited. Unlike his siblings, his musical style leaned more toward southern blues rock than folk rock, which might have disrupted any crossover. Audiences expecting another singer/songwriter might’ve been disappointed, and potential blues fans might’ve written him off as a singer/songwriter before giving him a chance. Whatever the reason, there was still a good number of people that weren’t caught up by that and really enjoyed his output.
Sadly, Alex Taylor died on March 12, 1993, following a heart attack while recording an album for King Snake Records in Florida. His death is widely considered to be caused by alcoholism.
But his music remains. While hard to find and now mostly out-of-print, Alex left behind four great albums:
- With Friends and Neighbors (1971, Capricorn Records) [includes covers of James Taylor’s “Highway Song” and “Night Owl”]
- Dinnertime (1972, Capricorn Records) [includes covers of Randy Newman’s “Burn Down the Cornfield,” Stephen Stills’ “Four Days Gone,” and Bob Dylan’s “From a Buick Six”]
- Voodoo in Me (1989, King Snake Records) [includes a duet with James Taylor on a cover of the 1960 Jerry Butler hit “He Will Break Your Heart”]
- Dancing with the Devil (1991, King Snake Records)*
But according to some sources, notably AllMusic.com, Alex Taylor had a fifth album called Third For Music, released by Dunhill Records in 1974. For years, I have searched for any confirmation of this album’s existence, but a brief online conversation with Kate Taylor a few years ago, along with the scant information I could find about the album, led me to conclude that it must not exist. And while it now appears that it’s true the album was never officially released, it turns out it does exist.
On February 28, Kate Taylor recognized Alex’s birthday on her Facebook page, and a fan posted the following video to her page:
The video is titled “Alex Taylor- Third For Music- Away Too Long” and was originally posted April 13, 2010. No other information was provided. Then about six months ago, the person who uploaded the video added the following comment:
I had intended on posting some more from the album. It was never released, stay tuned, I’ll see what I can do.
So far, the uploader’s channel doesn’t contain any other relevant videos. It appears the album was recorded, perhaps scheduled for a release, but then cancelled. My own research into Dunhill Records shows that the label was getting phased out by parent company ABC Records in 1974 and ’75, but mysteries still abound about this recording and why it was never released. Perhaps some day we’ll know more.
In the meantime, we now have a lost song from Alex Taylor to enjoy, and with it new hope that this album will one day get an official release.
Anyone who knows more about the Third For Music mystery, please post below or email me.
*More confusion over Alex Taylor’s discography is caused by an oft-repeated error (which I have mistakenly repeated as well) stating that Dancing in the Devil was released in 1981, but it was actually released in 1991 making it his final album. This mistake has been repeated so often that most think Voodoo in Me (with the James Taylor duet) was Alex’s final album, but this is not the case.