Thursday, September 13, 2007

Picking Up The Pieces With JT!

Johnnie Taylor - Pick Up The Pieces

Back in the spring I did a feature about Johnnie Taylor and the non-"disco" elements of his 1976 Columbia LP Eargasm, which gave the world the RIAA's first platinum single, "Disco Lady." I'll refer you to that post for the story behind the album, and jump right in to yet another gem that came from it.

"Pick Up The Pieces" was by no means a new song by the time JT recorded it for Eargasm. The song had been a hit for Carla Thomas in 1968 and Mavis Staples had recorded a version for one of her Volt LPs a few years later. Co-writer and producer of both prior versions, Don Davis, had been Taylor's producer since 1968 and I suppose he decided that the song should get a third airing on JT's album. For the '76 version of the song, Davis dispensed with the Motown-styled groove of the Thomas and Staples versions and replaced it with a mellow sound that was both bluesy and sophisticated, and Taylor brings his fine stylings to the vocals. Like in the case of "Running Out of Lies," covered in the prior post, Taylor gets a chance to do a little sermonizing as well, and it really works. By the time he's chanting "I need you to help me, I need you to help me, I-I-I need you to help me" at the end, he's got you hooked. When I was growing up my mother played this and "Running Out Of Lies" constantly. Now I understand why!

1 comment:

New said...

I would say that Eargasm was a pure R&B record tho I havent heard all the cuts in their entirety. I would agree that "Disco-Lady" is not a disco song, and those who dont really understand or listen to the composition of music have made that misinterpretation. I didnt listen to JT until I heard "Good Love" , in fact that was the first I heard of him. I lived in Houston and was very young when that song came out. My friends and I actually thought that a much younger man sang the song. To our suprise it was JT, I think he was 60 when he cut that single. Long story short, after I heard "Good Love" I went back and got some of his older music before he was at Malaco, and I found it was quite impressive. Alot of the songs I like ("Pick Up the Pieces", "Disco Lady", "Shoulder to Cry On", etc.) was composed by Don Davis. What happend to him any way?? It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Stax would not had folded and JT recorded there his whole career. Nothing againist Malaco, but I think they really steered him towards too much blues, and that was not his strength. He was a R&B and soul artist and Malaco really should have focused on that. "What About My Love" is a tight cut on the Beverly Glen Label. But just like anything else it takes the right personell to really make an ablum. You can have the vocals just like JT, but if you dont have the song writers, and composers quality music cant be produced. I guess it is all about chemistry!!