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