Johnnie Taylor – I Don’t Wanna Lose You / Hijackin’ Love [1977; Bellaphon, Stax]

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Slow crooning with deceptively sparse-sounding backing instrumentation and vocals marks the A-side of this single, with Johnnie Taylor putting in strong emotional vibrancy with his singing.  Slides into thin breaks and building back out give the song an interesting structure, but the simplicity of the lyrics ends up dragging the song down a bit.  The B-side shifts to a funkier and more instrumentally-driven groove, and by moving the vocals to more of a supporting role, the repetitive lyrics don’t make such a negative impression as in the first song.  Outside of the words, the music’s pretty solid on both sides.

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J. Blackfoot – City Slicker [1983; Allegiance, Soundtown Records]

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With his first solo album, J. Blackfoot (an original member of the Stax-originated Soul Children quartet) meshes his earthy soul vocals with a blend of funk and disco, finding a shared ground of grooves and party-friendly vibes.  His backing band and some support singers help give the songs a sense of expansion beyond the generally basic melodies, which helps keep the fun and flow gliding along in cool form.  Some bleeping in the title track stands out as odd interference with the capable funkiness, but outside of that and a bit of poppy over-compromising, there’s very few faults with this album.  The overall brevity (the nine songs add up to ~35 minutes of material) is a bit disappointing, but it keeps the formula from being worn too thin, and makes it all the easier to justify throwing it on for another listen.

Here’s the alternate cover art.

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And another alternate cover.

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