Sunday, May 15, 2011

Classic Johnnie Taylor Is Taylored In Silk

One of the latest of the Stax Remasters coming out from Concord, who currently owns the Stax Catalog, is a reissue of Johnnie Taylor’s Taylored in Silk. The eight tunes on the original 1973 album have been supplemented by six additional tracks. Taylor already had several hits and albums on Stax before Don Davis joined the label from Detroit where he helped give a different twist than the more strictly Memphis sound of Taylor’s earlier recordings that often were anchored by Booker T. and the MGs. Bill Dahl provides the historic overview in the annotation to the booklet.

Davis’ use of strings add a definite urbane sheen to selections like the remake of Little Willie John’s Talk To Me, as well as revisiting Mel & Tim’s Starting All Over Again. One of the centerpieces for this album was the Sir Mack Rice gem, Cheaper to Keep Her, with its infectious bass line and the streetwise cynicism of a lifetime of alimony. Another gem is Davis’ ballad We’re Getting Careless With Our Love, which, along with the beautiful I Believe In You, displays why Taylor was getting past being simply known as a blues belter (although a great one) and becoming “The Soul Philosopher.” A lush arrangement supports Taylor’s wonderful reading of This Bitter Earth, known from Dinah Washington’s recording.

The bonus tracks include “Hijackin’ Love, with its insistent groove; Standing in For Jody, another installment in the “Jody” saga; Shackin’ Up, a funky groove underlying its straightforward, unapologetic lyric and the bluesy two-part “Doing My Own Thing” with Eddie Hinton and the Muscles Shoals Jimmy Johnson sharing the guitar.  This is pretty strong stuff in addition to the original recording. Taylor was one of the great soul and blues singers, which this remastered reissue makes that clear.

My review copy was provided by the record company.

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