Johnnie Taylor is one of those guys who built a reputation on a few hits. But those few hits were soul masterpieces. "Disco Lady," "Take Care of Your Homework" and "Whoís Making Love" will forever reign supreme in the hearts of many. To my surprise I found that this southern soul man has recorded almost 30 albums over the years. I was also impressed to find out that he was a member of the Highway QCís and the Soul Stirrers with Sam Cooke before embarking on a solo career. "Just Ainít Good Enough" was originally released in 1982. This was some seven years after his biggest hit, "Disco Lady." None of his subsequent five albums for Columbia would catch on like the "Disco Lady" album. This led to his signing with the short-lived Beverly Glen label. Listening to Just Ainít Good Enough, brings back the smooth, sassy sound of Taylor from that era. He states in the liner notes that he was disappointed not with the musical content but with the poor promotion by Beverly Glen. The music doesnít sound any different from the previous Columbia output. That "Johnnie Taylor formula" could be characterized by suave, moderate, but not over-emotional vocals. Gospel-tinged feeling but not really testifying. Big horn arrangements. Crooning female background chorus. The beat is a solid dance groove but not with the heat of disco dancing, a medium tempo cross between a slow drag and a club dance beat. Oh, and we canít forget the trademark JT shriek ala James Brown/Wilson Pickett usually heard in the fadeout.
I went back and listened to all my old Johnnie Taylor albums and realized that chronologically by the time this album came together J.T. was truly entrenched in his own soul style. His earlier Stax songs and hits were similar to other Stax artists. Songs like "Somebodyís Sleeping in My Bed," and "Steal Away" could have been handled by a number of singers on the Stax roster. He developed his signature sound on the later Columbia and this Beverly Glen album.
When listening to the songs you have to keep from thinking this is Bobby Womack. The sound is similar but not with as much "preaching" as with "The Poet." Taylor has a stellar backing crew on this CD. He has ríní b masters David T. Walker and Paul Jackson on guitar, Nathan East on bass, James Gadson on drums , the Waters on background vocals and arrangements by Gene Page. Patrick Moten contributed keyboards and wrote 3 of the 6 songs on the album. Yes there are only 6 songs on the album and it is a very short 35 minutes running time. Before you know it, this CD is over. Too bad because when you hear the songs "What About My Love" and "I Need a Freak" and "Donít Wait," you want to hear more. I guess 3 out of six songs is a pretty good "track "record.
The Baker/Northrop Media Group, Cary Baker
This review is copyright © 2000 by Putnay Thomas, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.