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CD Review
Syl Johnson
"Bridge To A Legacy"
Antone's - ANT0041
by Dave "Doc" Piltz
On the back of Syl Johnson's latest Antone's CD, Bridge To A Legacy, the company clearly states to "File under "Blues"." This is an interesting instruction because Syl Johnson has proclaimed repeatedly that, despite his blues roots, he is a soul singer. In fact, there is a dominant soul feel to many of the ten songs on the CD. The Holly Springs, Mississippi born Johnson has been involved in the creation of sweet soul music since the 1960's and has to his credit such hits as "Take Me To The River" and "Come On Sock It To Me." Several of his songs have been sampled by rappers such as Wu-Tang Clan, TLC and Ghetto Boys for their rap hits.

Bridge To A Legacy is Syl Johnson's first album since his 1994 recording for Delmark, Back In The Game. Similarly, the new CD has been signified as a Johnson comeback record. This CD is to have come out of his return to the music business in support of his daughter Syleena's budding musical career. Unlike Back In The Game, which involved a majority of songs by other writers; all but one song on Bridge To A Legacy, George Jackson's "They Can't See Your Good Side," are written or co-written by Johnson.

The songs on the CD are a mix of blues and soul, with a definite shading to the soul side on many tunes. The opening song, "Who's Still In Love," provides a good driving rhythm and gets things off on the right foot. "I Been Missin' U," a duet with local phenom Johnny Lang, is a good song, but not nearly as entertaining as Lang's recent duet with Buddy Guy, "Midnight Train." However, the duet with his daughter Syleena, "Half A Love," is definitely one of the more soulful cuts on the CD. "Midnight Woman" is a fine mid-tempo number with some excellent guitar offered by the talented Johnson. "I Don't Know Why" is another mid-tempo song that is very representative of Johnson's musical style and guitar technique.

In addition to the opening "Who's Still In Love," two other songs stand out for me; "Piece Of The Rock" and "Sexy Wayz." Both songs include infectious grooves and tight horn arrangements by Gene Barge (Mellow Fellows/Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings).

Syl Johnson is a regular visitor to the Twin Cities and a performer worth seeing whenever he comes to town. Given the quality of this new CD, Johnson will hopefully get some additional recognition can provide a boost to his comeback effort and the impetus for some additional recording. Bridge To A Legacy is a definite step in the right direction for Syl Johnson.

This review is copyright 1998 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, all rights reserved.

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