Thursday, September 22, 2011
Willie Stephen, better known as Flip Flop Stevens, was legendary in the Tidewater area as a high energy performer. Flip's three known singles offer some insight into just how dynamic his live shows must have been. His first record for Shiptown, 1968's "Come On Let's Do That Thing", even came complete with over dubbed crowd hysteria. In the next two years Stevens went on to release two more 45's, both on Dynamite. "Live Your Own Life" (available on the Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! CD) was his first for the new label, a 100 MPH funky soul stormer widely regarded as his best.(FunkyVirginia)
Monday, September 19, 2011
Born Sylvester Thompson in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Johnson sang and played with blues artists Magic Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells and Howlin' Wolf in the 1950s, before recording with Jimmy Reed for Vee-Jay in 1959. He made his solo debut that same year with Federal, a subsidiary of King Records of Cincinnati, backed by Freddie King on guitar.
He then began recording for Twinight Records of Chicago in the mid 1960s. Beginning with his first hit, Come On Sock It to Me in 1967, Johnson dominated the label as both a hitmaker and producer. His song Different Strokes, also from 1967, featured recently on the Ultimate Breaks and Beatsbreakbeat compilation.
Like other black songwriters of the period, several of his records at this time explored themes of African-American identity and social problems in songs including Is It Because I'm Black, which reached Number 11 in the R&B charts in 1969.
In 1971, Willie Mitchell brought Johnson to Hi Records, the two recording three albums which spawned a number of singles. Produced in Memphis with the Hi house band, these yielded music of power and enduring value, including the hits We Did It, Back for a Taste of Your Love and Take Me to the River, his biggest success, reaching Number 7 on the R&B charts in 1975. However, at Hi Johnson was always to some extent in Al Green's shadow commercially, if not artistically. Mitchell also chose to use mainly in-house material rather than Johnson originals.
After the Hi years ended, Johnson produced two LPs for his own Shama label, the latter of which (Ms. Fine Brown Frame, 1982) was picked up for distribution by Boardwalk Records and produced Johnson's last hit record, the title cut.
Around the mid-1980s, Johnson started a fast-food fish restaurant business, and became semi-retired from performing, only making occasional appearances at blues club gigs.
In 1992, Johnson found out that his song "Different Strokes" had been sampled by number of rappers Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, Kool G Rap, Hammer, and the Geto Boys. Stimulated by this fact, he decided to make a comeback in the music industry. In 1994, he released the album Back in the Game on Delmark Records. The album featured the Hi rhythm section and his youngest daughter Syleena Johnson. including
Blues guitarist and singer Jimmy Johnson, and bassist Mack Thompson are his brothers.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
(June 13, 1942 - January 7, 2001), was an American Rhythm & Blues and soul singer.
Born to a Baptist preacher's family in Coahoma, Mississippi, Carr began singing in church and was performing in gospel groups and making tables on an assembly line in Memphis, Tennessee, when he began recording in the mid-'60s for Goldwax Records, a small Memphis based label.
Carr first made the R&B charts in 1966 with "You've Got My Mind Messed Up", followed by his most famous song "The Dark End of the Street", written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman. Carr continued to record for Goldwax until the label closed in 1969 but failed to reach the same heights with his subsequent releases.