Syl Johnson / Jimmy Johnson

Two Johnsons Are Better Than One

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Look beyond the jokey title on the first record co-billed to brothers Syl and Jimmy Johnson -- concentrate on the music, which happens to be an easy, effortless fusion of Jimmy's modern Chicago blues and Syl's bluesy soul. Both brothers let the other breathe, giving them space to stretch out instrumentally, as well as deliver easy, soulful vocals. They smartly rely on their own material throughout most of the album, both new and old (a nice revival of Syl's classic "Is It Because I'm Black," for instance). The production, like many contemporary blues albums, relies on cleanliness and precision instead of grit, which is too bad, but that ultimately doesn't distract too much from the performances, which are warm, friendly, and engaging, filled with brotherly love.

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