Saturday, August 12, 2006

Soul Blues Saturday: Get On Down With JT!

Johnnie Taylor - You Can't Strike Gold In A Silver Mine

The late Johnnie Taylor and Tyrone Davis reigned from the late '80s until their deaths at the pinnacle of the soul blues circuit. The parallels between the two are very interesting: both ended up on Columbia after long, successful tenures on independent labels; both had initial hits on Columbia but then found themselves alienated by the label as public tastes changed; both had a few final national hits on small labels; and both found their fortunes in the new soul blues market on the Malaco label. Davis and his music will be discussed next week.

Although Johnnie Taylor's move to Columbia in 1975 paid immediate and immense dividends with the platinum single "Disco Lady" (the first single, incidentally, to be certified as such by the RIAA, which had just created the designation), by the end of the '70s he found himself floundering. He switched to the Beverly Glen label (then hot with Bobby Womack's "If You Think You're Lonely Now") and had a few more minor hits before signing with Malaco. Taylor's Malaco recordings struck a major nerve with soul blues fans and Taylor toured continuously on the strength of tunes like "Last Two Dollars," "Big Head Hundreds," "Soul Heaven" (his last soul blues hit), and today's selection.

"You Can't Strike Gold" features a very punchy groove, anchored by a funky guitar lick (although many soul blues records featured synthesizers and drum machines, usually a real guitar would be there) and good background singing. Taylor is in good form, cutting loose with Sam Cooke wails and telling the cautionary tale of the lyrics. It's a shame this song didn't exist in the Stax days, becuase he would've hit with it for sure!

(EDITOR'S NOTE - The podcast will be put up next week - sorry for the delays!)

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