By the looks of the hits this week, it seems that my Shifting Gears Mix has gone over pretty well. Thanks to all for the positive feedback. There might be a meeting of the minds this week when Devil Dick and I get together to do a joint mix, particularly of the Soul kind. Stay tuned for that. FMF is evolving all the time, and I’m really happy on this newest change and the addition of the Eye Candy page. I have tons of videos marked for viewing, so get ready for the craziest Funk, Soul, Reggae, Jazz, and even some Hip Hop. I also just bought fleamarketfunk.com, so with any luck I can turn this place into something pretty cool once I get all the particulars worked out. Today I’m gonna go back to a Stax Records artist that has been staring me in the face for the last couple of weeks. I remember hearing this song done by him, and a really great version done by Lou Donaldson. As it is fading out Donaldson screams: “Watch your next door neighbor jack!”. This guy could scream pretty well too. Here’s Johnny Taylor’s version on Stax records from 1977 and “Who’s Makin’ Love”.
Johnny Taylor was born in 1934 (or 1938) if you were speaking to him, in Crawfordsville, Arkansas. In his household he grew up singing the Gospel of the church in West Memphis, Tennessee. He’d later relocate to Kansas City to showcase his Gospel talent in the Melody Kings. Taylor would play in a few Gospel groups, including the Highway QC’s and the Soul Stirrers (both one time a home for Sam Cooke). He’d be a part of the Chicago Doo Wop group The Five Echoes (or Freddie Matthews and the Four Echoes). Taylor, in fact, replaced Cooke in the Soul Stirrers, but yearned for that secular music that Cooke’s path led him down. He was signed finally to Cooke’s SAR Label in 1961, and released sides on that and Derby, which Cooke had a hand in as well. Unfortunately for Johnny (and all of us as well), Sam Cooke would leave this earth in 1964, his tragic murder another chapter in the music book of damn shames. Like Otis Redding, Clifford Brown, even Jimi Hendrix (and a whole lot more), it’s a damn shame we lost these people when we did. At any rate, Taylor would sign on with Stax records in 1965 (at the alleged flip of a coin, heads Motown, tails Stax). Stax won out (thank you) and he would go on to record a string of hits for them, this one being the biggest next to his 1976 smash it “Disco Lady” on the CBS label. Let’s not forget the Johnny Taylor classics “Cheaper to Keep Her”, “Jody’s Got Your Girl and Gone”, “Changes”, and a slew of Southern style Soul sides. Referred to as the “Philosopher of Soul, his smooth vocal style was easily adaptable to a variety of genres. He’d go on making records into the 90’s, with a career that had spanned across 4 decades. Later on he would record for the Malaco label (check out the Dorothy Moore side “Here It Is”, a Soul sleeper favorite of mine that is easily found). Johnny Taylor died of a heart attack in 2000 in Texas.
This upbeat Soul track is dedicated to all you cheaters out there. Taylor, the smooth operator he was, besides preaching, was laying his philosophy of love to all you young macks out there. If you’re smart, you’d listen to him. Recruited by Al Bell from Detroit, Don Davis, produced and played guitar on this record ( along with Steve Cropper and other Stax musicians). This particular song was kind of pushed aside by other producers in the Stax camp because of the risque topic. Davis nailed it, and besides being a number one R & B hit, it sold over a million records. It looks like Al Bell’s plan to meld the Northern and Southern sound worked on this Stax artist. Davis and Taylor would enjoy more hits together as a musician/producer team. They would put out “Take Care of Your Homework,” “Testify,” “Love Bones,” “Steal Away,” and “I Am Somebody, Part 2” together, solidifying Taylor’s sound and making him a bona fide star. I’ll be back with another treat to close out the week. Keep Diggin’!