I took a Friday off because I was sick. I don’t know if it’s all the gigs or something going around, but it had the best of me. This past weekend was a busy one, I DJed both Friday and Saturday (Three times on Saturday). Shout out to the Tri-City Arts tour for booking Jack the Ripper and I to spin Funk and Soul 45’s during the afternoon, and to the Langosta Lounge for booking me at night. Good things definitely ahead this Summer. Since I had the Sunday off, I figured I’d hit up the Asbury Lanes Record Swap and Garage Sale. Many of the usual suspects were there, and I picked up a handful of interesting stuff. One of the records I chose for today. Here’s Syl Johnson with “I’m Yours” from 1974 on Hi Records.
Born Sylvester Thompson in 1936 in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Syl Johnson got his start in Blues before he went on to success with Soul. Syl lived next to Magic Sam in Chicago (his brother was also Mac Johnson, bass player to Sam), and older brother Jimmy Johnson was a Bluesman as well. Before he was a Soul singer, he played guitar and also harmonica with players such as Magic Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells, Elmore James, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Shakey Jake, and others. His first solo efforts were with King Records subsidiary Federal, before switching over to Chicago label Twilight (later Twinight). This is where he would release the start of the Soul he was known for. His first hit “Come On Sock It To Me” in 1967, was a taste of things to come. Records such as “Different Strokes”, “Is It Because I’m Black”, “Concrete Reservation”, “Dresses Too Short” and others solidified him as a Soul giant, not only singing, but producing as well. He would also produce acts such as the Notations and the Radiants. Johnson’s collaborated with super producer Willie Mitchell and his Hi Rhythm Section: Charles Hodges (keyboards), Mabon “Teenie” Hodges (guitar), Leroy Hodges (bass), and Al Jackson, Jr. or Howard Grimes (drums), first on Dresses, then on songs like “Back for Your Taste of Love” and “Let Yourself Go”. Mitchell was producing Al Green, and Johnson is sometimes compared to Green, not only because they had the same producer, but by their voices as well. Green would have more hits, but Johnson could still keep up music wise. After Johnson stopped with Hi Records, he disappeared to run a chain of fish restaurants in the Chicago area (not before releasing soem stuff on his own Shamba label), and making a comeback mid-nineties on Delmark.
I’m Yours sounds eerily like Al Green to me, but don’t let it fool you, it’s Syl Johnson through and through. From the opening organ riff, Johnson croons his way, professing his love and giving more ways that Paul Simon on why he’s the man for the job. This record was recorded in Memphis, as most if not all of the Hi stuff was, and it’s got the patented Mitchell sound. FMF recommends this, and if you can score it for a buck like I did, well then that’s even better. See you midweek. Keep Diggin’!
Asbury Lanes Record Swap Scores:
Syl Johnson – I’m Yours/ Hi
Tamiko Jones and Herbie Mann – Day Tripper/ Atlantic
The T-Bones – No Matter What Shape Your Stomach Is In/ Underground
Gloria (Rosebud) Black – Double Dealing Dude/ Jody
Effie Smith – Harper Valley PTA Gossip/ Eee Cee
Howard Tate – S/T / Atlantic
Lou Donaldson – Say It Loud/ Blue Note