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If you aren’t aware of who Syl Johnson is, a quick summary is that he was a soul singer out of Chicago in the 60s-70s, and was often overshadowed by his label-mate, Al Green, on Memphis’ Hi-Records through his later career. He is also one of hip-hop’s most sampled artists, particularly by RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, who built songs around Johnson breaks frequently (Shame On A Nigga, Hollow Bones, etc.). Syl is the first soul man that I know of to record concept albums rather than LP collections of singles. 1969’s Is It Because I’m Black? focused on racial inequality in the aftermath of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, while 1973’s Back For A Taste Of Your Love covered the spectrum of a failed relationship; from “I’m Yours,” to “Anyway The Wind Blows,” to “Wind, Blow Her Back My Way.”
Hearsay soul historian favorite, Numero, has been working on issuing an anthology of Johnson’s pre-Hi Records work for a few years now, which is an extension of their Twinight Records compilation, which Johnson was an integral element in. They have slowly been leaking out info of the 6xLP, 4xCD box set, which collects nearly all of his early soul recordings, and it just looks amazing.
I know just passing along a new video after taking a two month break isn’t exactly good journalism, but this is a and always has been a lazy blog, and I like “Home,” rehash of Spike Jonze’s I’m Here (with a Flight of the Conchords robot suit) that it is.