Monday, May 07, 2007

Johnnie Taylor Live At The Summit Club LA 1972

I have been playing this CD for weeks and have been meaning to get around to a review before now.
To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Stax Records, the legendary Southern soul label, has been re-launched by its new owners, Concord Music Group. Over the course of this year they will release over 20 CDs and DVDs including reissues, collections, and new releases from artists like Angie Stone and Stax icon Isaac Hayes.
One of the first products of this program is Johnnie Taylor's Live At The Summit Club CD, recorded in Los Angeles on September 23, 1972. If you've ever seen the movie Wattstax, you will have seen him peforming in the Summit Club and wondered why he wasn't on the main bill? Lee Hildebrand writes in the notes that Johnnie didn't appear at the concert at the LA Coliseum either because he was bumped for time or was unhappy with his time slot, so Stax booked him into the nearby Summit Club and recorded it.

In the movie we get a blast of "Jody Got Your Girl And Gone" from this performance which closes out this 64-minute CD. Two other songs, "Steal Away" and "Stop Doggin' Me," have appeared on CD in an edited form and this is the first time the complete takes of those songs have been available. The CD has 6 other songs which make this truly historical document of an artist at the peak of his powers.
Johnnie may have been unhappy with the band on this night as he belts out instructions to a band struggling to keep up with him. Put that aside though because with his singing we get to the heart of the man as we find him in a live setting which is unique to our ears - oh for a time machine. Johnnie never lets up the intensity in his performance. If anything, the problems with the band cause him to overcompensate and pull out all the stops.
Thanks to Concord, we have a now got a wonderful moment in soul history to listen to!

1 comment:

  1. always, late to the party. Thanks for the tip, I'm on my way over to eMusic now to get a copy. Recently I've been reassessing several soul icons, the "philosopher" being one of them. I've seen "Wattstax" a bazillion times if not more, so it will be a treat to hear this performance in its entirety.