Saturday, September 30, 2006

Soul Blues Saturday: Johnson Power!

Syl and Jimmy Johnson - Oprah

Soul legend Syl Johnson's Chicago and Memphis recordings of the '60s and '70s for Twinight and Hi are well-known among soul fans. The soul and blues career of his brother Jimmy is not as well-known, but "The Bar Room Preacher," as he is known, rose from playing for The Deacons (who hit with an instrumental version of Syl's "Come On Sock It To Me") to recording strong if unheralded blues albums for Delmark and other labels. Whereas Jimmy has kept a steady presence in the music business, a somewhat-disgruntled Syl got out of the business in the early '80s to concentrate on running restaurants, choosing instead to make sporadic live appearances (I saw him in 1999 in Chicago, where he gave a great show) and occasional album releases. One such album was Two Johnsons Are Better Than One, a collaboration with Jimmy, which included today's featured selection.

"Oprah" is a fun tribute to the media phenom Oprah Winfrey. Syl handles the vocals and Jimmy provides instrumental support. The accompaniment is, to be honest, nothing special, but the background singing works with Syl's enthusiastic vocals to make a fitting tribute to Ms. Winfrey.

No comments: