Saturday, 11 August 2018

Things Ain't Right

In most soulie circles Syl Johnson is pretty much a house-hold name and deservingly so. Very few artists delivered the goods with even half the swagger, stamina and straight up consistency that Syl Johnson exerted on the regular!!!

Born Sylvester Thompson in Holly Springs, Mississippi, he moved with his family to Chicago in 1950, where blues guitarist Magic Sam was his next-door neighbor. Johnson sang and played with blues artists Magic Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells and Howlin' Wolf in the 50s. He recorded with Jimmy Reed for Vee-Jay in 1959. He made his solo debut that same year with Federal, a subsidiary of King Records of Cincinnati, backed by Freddie King on guitar. Johnson began recording for Twinight Records of Chicago in the mid-1960s. Beginning with his first hit, 'Come On Sock It to Me' in 1967, he dominated the label as both a hit-maker and a producer. Like other black songwriters of the period, he wrote songs at this time exploring themes of African-American identity and social problems, such as 'Is It Because I'm Black' which reached #11 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1969. In 1971, producer Willie Mitchell brought Johnson to Hi Records, for which the two recorded three albums, which generated a number of singles. Produced in Memphis with the Hi house band, these albums contained the hits 'We Did It', 'Back For A Taste Of Your Love' and 'Take Me To The River', his biggest success, reaching #7 on the R&B chart in 1975. However, at Hi Records, Johnson was always to some extent in the shadow of Al Green, commercially if not artistically. Mitchell also chose to use mainly in-house compositions rather than Johnson's original songs. After his years with Hi ended, Johnson produced two LPs for his own Shama label, the second of which (Ms. Fine Brown Frame, 1982) was picked up for distribution by Boardwalk Records. The title track of that album was Johnson's last hit record. Around the mid 80s, Johnson started a fast-food fish restaurant and mostly retired from performing, making only occasional appearances at blues clubs.

Yes, several thorough Syl Johnson collections have been comprised already to date, collecting damn near everything (at least as far as the Hi, Twinight and Federal recordings are concerned). Things Ain't Right combines these catalogs in my usual fashion and includes several one-off's and the Shama 45s (less 1) for a massive singles collection spanning 1959-1981 and includes all those tasty unissued Twinight recordings obviously. I've also collected the complete classic albums, plus his 3 often over-looked early 80s LPs. Almost entirely sourced from FLAC, all files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.

*missing single:
98. Can't Nobody Stop Me Now - 1977 (Shama 1236)
99. Let Me Love You - 1977 (Shama 1236)


soulpapa said...

Wow! Thanks once again!

Bob Mac said...

Well here's one I know well. I had the pleasure of seeing Syl Johnson play in a pub in Perth a few years ago. After the show I saw Syl sitting at a table so went over and had a brief chat with him and shook his hand. As we left the pub I said to my friend...I just shook the hand that once shook the hands of Howlin' Wolf and Magic Sam. Anyway, many thanks for this, I'm looking forward to checking this lot out.

muddyw123 said...

Insanely good musician. Thank you for sharing and doing a great job....again!

mfarkas2 said...

Thank you! Didn't realize I was missing so many singles.

bostig said...

Thanks a lot

KansasJoe said...

Thank you for all the comps.
I have a SJ comp on P-Vine titled Straight Up. At first sight it has some titles not in your comp. If you don't have it and want the discographical info, let me know how to get it to you.

s13 said...

most of those songs post-date the era I'm aiming at but are you able to share the track "Can't Nobody Stop Me Now" from it or a rip of the whole CD?

KansasJoe said...

I already ripped the cd (plus the bonus cd). I will share it through 'Don't Ask Me'. Look for it in the future.

s13 said...

excellent. and excellent blog btw!

i've found a few rare gems there for sure.

cheers, S