L.V. Johnson

Cold & Mean

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From Clarence Carter to Curtis Mayfield, the Atlanta-based Ichiban Records has been a safe haven for soul veterans the majors lost interest in. In the late 1980s and '90s, one of Ichiban's brightest lights was L.V. Johnson, who joined the label with the outstanding Cold & Mean. Instead of aiming for the urban contemporary market, the gruff, big-voiced soul shouter excels with an unapologetically '70s-sounding approach. Combining a silky production style with hard-edged, gospel-influenced vocals, gems like "It's So Cold and Mean (The Drug Scene)," "It's Not My Time," and "Make You Mine" sound like they could have been recorded 15 years earlier. Another high point is "One In a Million You," originally recorded by Larry Graham in 1980. On these confident, soaring performances, the R&B veteran lets us know that he's still at the height of his powers.

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