Photos by Ebet Roberts
It was homecoming night for “Wild Thing” Chip Taylor at the baroque Cutting Room club. Friends, family, fellow patrons of his neighborhood bar and a few fans who managed to score a ticket packed the old vaudeville house to hear Taylor sing from his old records and his two new CDs (which are about friends & family), and, as important as the music, to recount the colorful stories behind each one.
Son of a successful professional golfer and the youngest of three high-functioning boys (actor Jon Voight and geologist and earthquake predictor Barry Voight), Taylor’s own careers as a professional golfer, gambler, songwriter and singer/songwriter bear repeating, which he does matter-of-factly, with a dose of wry humor.
Taylor’s most famous songs, “Wild Thing” (Jordan Christopher & The Wild Ones, the Troggs and Jimi Hendrix) and “Angel of the Morning” (Evie Sands, Merrilee Rush, Juice Newton and most recently, Rachael Platten) made him a name in the rock world, but singer/producer Chet Atkins really started his career, and Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare and Waylon Jennings, among many others, have recorded songs by this Yonkers, NY man who began writing country and race songs out of the Brill Building complex.
A Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee, Taylor reprised many of the hits which figured in the story of his life, including “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder” (Lorraine Ellison, Janis Joplin) and “I Can’t Wait to See My Baby’s Face” (Aretha Franklin), but many of the tunes came from his new albums, I’ll Carry for You and Little Brothers, and are intensely personal; based on his track record of having others made his songs Top-40 hits, however, some tunes may have a wider audience soon.
Highlights of the evening included the extremely sexy “Track 224,” from the 2014 mega-CD Little Prayers Trilogy, and “Angel of the Morning,” which, among other songs, he performed with his three granddaughters, Riley, Kate and Sammy Voight-Ennis, who provided backup vocals on both of his new releases as well as the cover photo for I’ll Carry for You. At least one of these gals continues the Voight superhero tradition: Riley has a terrific voice, and she’s headed to MIT next fall.
The friends & family evening was no chip shot, Taylor smoked it again.