Member of Jimmy Buffett’s band goes ‘Hi Fi Baby’

There’s one guarantee to a Greg “Fingers” Taylor album — it’s going to rock.

That is evident on Taylor’s latest release — “Hi Fi Baby.” With 11 blues-infused tracks, Taylor delivers some of the grittiest and meanest harmonica playing ever.

Taylor is long time member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, and his harmonica has graced dozens of records since the early 1970s. “Hi Fi Baby” is his fifth studio album, and his first since 1996’s “Old Rock ‘n’ Roller.”

Where Taylor succeeds is his ability to turn a new recording into a timeless wonder. To an unknowing listener, the album sounds as if it could have been recorded 40 years ago for a little known blues label and stashed away on a shelf somewhere.

Taylor’s harmonica versatility ranges from an upbeat “2 X’s 9,” the album’s closing track, to the brooding blues of “Sleeping in the Ground.” In the latter, Taylor lays down some terrific harmonica licks on top of a slew of guitar riffs, compliments of Doug Deming and Troy Gonyea.

“I would rather see you sleeping in the ground, than to be around here, knowing you’re going to put me down,” Taylor sings, later trading lines with harmonica fills and taking the opportunity to show his mastery of the instrument, particularly the higher register.

But the album’s highlight is the fourth track — “I Want My Fleetwood Back.” Opening with a whirl from Mark Stevens’ Hammond B-3 organ, Taylor’s harp chimes in and steals the show. Between a casually driving beat from drummer Richard Innes, Taylor sings lyrics about a “Fleetwood Cadillac,” Taylor serves out some of the album’s best harmonica.

The album was recorded during a two-day session in December 2002 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The album’s producer, Kim Wilson, adds some harmonica of his own on two tracks — Deming’s “Whisper” and “It Ain’t Easy.”

Previous Taylor albums include:

Harpoon Man” (1984) — Taylor’s first solo album, recorded with Anson Funderburgh on guitar, includes his harmonica anthem — “Dixie Diner.” Originally recorded by Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers, the song remains one of Taylor’s best performances he has ever laid down in the studio. Other highlights include “Messin’ With the Kid” and the album’s title track.

Chest Pains” (1989) — Taylor’s sophomore effort includes the most radio-friendly song in his catalog, “Some White People Can Dance.” The album, though at times leaning more towards mainstream rock than blues, offers listeners Taylor’s most refined studio album.

New Fingerprints” (1992) — Taylor returned three years later with his third outing, a 12-song collection of hard edge blues-influenced rock. “Extra Mile” and the record’s closing track — the instrumental Taylor original “Pork Juice” — stack up as the album’s highlights.

“Old Rock ‘n’ Roller” (1996) — By far, Taylor’s longest effort to date, in terms of its time. The album is best described as fun. Featuring a remake of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” and Taylor’s own “Subway Swing,” the record has an all around feel-good nature to it.

Published Jan. 26, 2004, in The Leaf-Chronicle of Clarksville, Tenn.

Avatar photo
About Todd DeFeo 1608 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is the owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and Railfanning.org.