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James Taylor makes history as the first artist to earn a top 10 album in the past six decades
By Andrea Dresdale
Monday, March 9, 2020
James Taylor has set a new standard on the Billboard chart.
His new album, American Standard, has debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 album chart, becoming his 13th top-10 album. But more impressively, it now makes James the first act to have scored a top-10 album in each of the last six decades.
Here’s how it breaks down. Taylor’s first six top-10 albums arrived in the 1970s, and included such classics as Sweet Baby James, JT, Flag, and Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon.
In the ’80s, James went top 10 with 1981’s Dad Loves His Work, and in the ’90s, he did the same with 1997’s Hourglass. In the 2000s, he had two top 10’s: 2002’s October Road and 2002’s Covers. In the 2010s, he grabbed two more: His 2010 album with Carole King, Live at the Troubadour, and his first-ever number one, 2015’s Before This World.
And now, American Standard, a collection of tunes from the Great American Songbook, gives James his first top-10 album of the 2020s, completing the milestone.
As Billboard notes, there are a number of artists who are one decade behind Taylor in this club, but if any of them can go top 10 going forward, they’ll tie him for the record. Among the artists who might pull it off: Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Bob Seger, Santana, and, posthumously, Tom Petty or Michael Jackson.
Bette Midler covered James Taylor’s “Millworker” on her 1979 album Thighs and Whispers. According to Midler biographer Mark Bego, Midler’s version is “a real treat,” giving the song a “slow and pensive treatment” that brings the character to life.” Billboard described her version as “sensitive.” AllMusic critic Joe Viglione finds her version to be entertaining, and that it plays to Midler’s strengths.