Greg “Fingers” Taylor made a name for himself as the harmonica player in Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band.
But, Taylor emerged as a solo artist in 1982 with the release of Harpoon Man, featuring Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets. In 1989, he released Chest Pains, which was followed by New Fingerprints in 1992 and Old Rock ‘n’ Roller in 1996. Taylor’s last studio effort of all new material came in 2003 with the release of Hi Fi Baby.
While he has released a pair of best of albums — Greatest Hits (1998) and Back to the Blues (2000) — neither album has moved into the mainstream.
“In the early days, I was into the British invasion of the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five,” The Toledo Blade in 2001 quoted Taylor as saying. “I loved all that stuff, and a lot of those guys, like Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds, kept talking about blues players like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Sonny Boy Williamson. So I went right to the source and I liked it even better.”
Taylor is reportedly retired as a result of Alzheimer’s disease. And, while a new best of album probably isn’t in the works, here are 10 of Fingers best tracks in his catalogue (it’s too bad he didn’t cut a solo version of Big Rig; that would surely be included on this list).
This is probably the quintessential Fingers Taylor track. First cut when a member of Larry Raspberry & the Highsteppers, Taylor revisited the song on his debut album. On this instrumental track, Taylor really displays his harp-playing skills.
The opening track to Taylor’s debut album is a real rocker. Taylor dazzles with his harpoon and really sets the stage for what will clearly be a string of fantastic solo efforts.
Some White People (Can Dance)
The is arguably Taylor’s best know effort to date. Co-written with Buffett, the homage to some people who can in fact dance (and other who cannot) appeared on Taylor’s sophomore effort. It was also included on the Margaritaville Cafe: Late Night Menu compilation. In addition to its catchy tune and memorable chorus, it is a great vehicle for Taylor’s high-register harp skills.
Good Rockin’ Woman
This solo Taylor composition comes near the end of Chest Pains, but is not one to overlook. Yes, it’s a straight forward blues number, but it is included on the list in large part because it is a Taylor original. It is also a great introduction to Taylor’s harmonica abilities.
Sunburn (Duval St. Stomp)
The closing track of Chest Pains is one in a long-line of Taylor instrumentals. It’s funny in a way: Taylor has a great blues voice, but his instrumental tunes are both fun and listenable.
The opening track of New Fingerprints may be Taylor’s most rocking effort to date. This is one that could have seen some true radio time.
The closing track of New Fingerprints is another instrumental, but it is a different style of blue than a tune such as Sunburn.
A duo with pianist Jay Spell, the song appeared on the obscure 1993 album The Appaloosa All Stars. Though the tracks features just Spell on piano and Taylor on harmonica, it is a real barn burner. This song truly allows Taylor to display his harmonica skills.
The third track from Old Rock ‘n’ Roller. really gets the foot tapping. It’s clear by this point, the album is going to be a special one, but it’s hard to say whether Taylor’s fourth album or his first is the best starting point for anyone new to Fingers. What the heck, buy both.
This Taylor composition is a true highlight of Old Rock ‘n’ Roller. It’s easy to envision the cast of characters name-checked in the song.