Lou Johnson

Sweet Southern Soul

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Lou Johnson's Sweet Southern Soul is a solid album of journeyman soul. Recorded in 1969 for Atlantic offshoot Cotillion, the mix of ingredients is classic: production by Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd, musical backing by the Muscle Shoals crew, songs by Don Covay, Eddie Hinton, and Curtis Mayfield. Indeed, the whole thing reads like a textbook to Southern soul in the late '60s. The only thing missing is a compelling lead vocal from Johnson. He certainly has soul and at times sounds like a contender (on the testifying "People in Love" or the bubbling "Rock Me Baby"), but mostly he just sounds average. The choice of cover songs is not too stellar, as the Drifters' "This Magic Moment" and Ben E. King's "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)" don't translate very well. On the flip side of that, Johnson's take on the country chestnut "She Thinks I Still Care" is a lovely, relaxed version that adds something nice and soulful to the original. Sweet Southern Soul is a record that may not justify its lofty status among soul collectors, but is very pleasant nonetheless.

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