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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Carla Thomas – I Like What You’re Doing (To Me) / Guide Me Well [1977; Stax]

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Soft vocals and a sturdy bass-line ground the A-side of this single, with light percussion, horns, backing singers, and guitar sprucing up the affair.  The gentility and title help successfully pull attention from some darkness in the lyrics, including comparing the love interest to Jekyll and Hyde, but the rising action from all the instruments towards the end leads to a fade-out instead of a decisive finish.  The B-side slows things down to a focused groove, with the vocals acting more as commentary until Thomas’ voice breaks out into full-bodied soaring, where it hangs for most of the song’s remainder.  A good pair, covering different territory in the same style and complementing each other well.