Little Johnny Taylor

Open House at My House

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Issued in 1973, Open House at My House had Little Johnny Taylor recording for Stan Lewis' Ronn Records out of Shreveport, LA, after a long tint with Galaxy Records. Interestingly, Johnnie Taylor, the hitmaking soul singer whose name was close -- too close for comfort -- also recorded for Galaxy at the same time. Little Johnny's set here digs far deeper into the blues than his earlier records had. He was an R&B shouter, pure and true in his earlier days, but the producers at Ronn knew he needed a makeover if he was to get another shot at the charts after a couple of singles he recorded for the label in Los Angeles and at Muscle Shoals never broke the Top 40. Songwriter and producer Bobby Patterson, along with engineer Jerry Strickland, brought it home to Shreveport and the resulting title track -- recorded in two parts and covering both sides of a 45, hit number 16. Five other tracks from this bluesy set were issued as single A-sides as well. These were all penned by Patterson and Strickland. Four other cuts on the set were recorded in Los Angeles. There is remarkable material here, including the steamy and funky ballad "I'll Make It Worth Your While," which resembles B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone" more than a little. But it hardly matters; its slow, sultry groove powered by a B-3, strings, and horns features a killer opening alto sax break to introduce the vibe a full 12 bars before Taylor even sings a word. The rest of the album is a bit more unhinged in a modern blues manner with the Southern soul thing kicking it in the background. Of the later work that Taylor did, Open House at My House is the high point.

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