Thursday, May 03, 2007

Johnnie Taylor's Platinum Soul!

I know that I wrote on Tuesday that I'd have the podcast up, but Tuesday night was too busy. Last night, though, I spent about three hours putting the playlist together for a '70s soul show, and I'm excited about recording it and getting it online tonight. It's going to be a nice mix of groovy and funky '70s soul with a healthy dollop of sista soul, and I think you're really going to like it! While listening to material to assemble into the show I revisited today's selection and knew it just had to be featured today.

Johnnie Taylor - Running Out of Lies

1976 was a banner year for Johnnie Taylor, who was making his debut as a Columbia recording artist after leaving Stax, which officially closed its doors in the beginning of the year. Johnnie's debut LP, Eargasm, hit the streets and "Disco Lady," the lead-off single, hit big and sold lots of records. Lots of records. So many that the RIAA, which had just established the "platinum" designation for record sales, awarded the first ever platinum single to "Disco Lady" and Taylor enjoyed major R&B and pop chart success, the latter of which was a rare feat for Taylor, whose bluesy, "grown-folks" brand of soul generally didn't fare too well on pop radio. Columbia, like most major labels, decided that disco was the way to go (despite the fact that "Disco Lady" wasn't really a disco record) in light of this, so unfortunately subsequent albums and singles by Taylor on Columbia upped the disco quotient only to achieve diminishing returns. By the end of the decade Taylor would leave the label and sign to Beverly Glen in the beginning of what would be a pretty successful soul-blues career that would sustain him for the rest of his life.

The Eargasm LP, however, was not totally consumed by "Disco Lady" and disco songs. The album is actually stunning, effectively mixing uptempo mid-'70s groovers with the bluesy kind of stuff that Taylor had been doing all along. "Running Out Of Lies" is a neat mix of lowdown blues and stylish 1976 soul that is my favorite JT Columbia recording. You know you're in for the real soul thing when that organ and bass intro sets the sombre mood. As that groove hunches along, Taylor spins his tale of the "man loves two" dilemma, and just when you think the record is a masterpiece, JT takes it one step further. The strings and horns drop out and that sinister groove returns, and Johnnie takes it to church with a monologue that takes on a sermonological tone. By the time the chorus is reprised, you're drained. It's too bad more "real soul" like this wasn't being made by 1976!

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