Roy Lee Johnson and the Villagers

Roy Lee Johnson and the Villagers

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An unsung monster from the waning hours of the Stax empire, Roy Lee Johnson and the Villagers' eponymous LP is as funky as anything the label ever released. While its sound is unmistakably Stax -- its elegant yet earthy sensibility couldn't come from anywhere else -- the music expands on the formula via tight, hypnotic grooves and scorching guitar licks. The up-tempo "I Can't Stand This Loneliness" is the unqualified highlight, but there's not a bum note to be found here -- everything works, from the relentless opener "Patch It Up" to the lovely ballad "Something Special."

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