Johnnie Taylor – Taylored in Silk (reissue review)

Johnnie Taylor – Taylored in Silk (Concord Music)  CD review

Stax Records was the king of all soul music, boasting a roster that included stalwarts like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Sam & Dave, and Booker T & the MG’s, while helping define the very meaning of the word soul. The Concord Music Group has acquired the Stax back catalog and has just released several more in their Stax Remasters series – all including excellent liner notes, photos and unreleased bonus tracks.

By the time of this album’s release in 1973, Johnnie Taylor was a seasoned R&B veteran; he’d replaced Sam Cooke in the Soul Stirrers, then had several big hits on his own.  Taylored in Silk shows him at the peak of his powers,

capable of sweetly pleading, on the opening cheatin’ song “We’re Getting Careless With Our Love,” then preaching, on the hit “Cheaper to Keep Her.”  He also takes outside material and melds it into his own – giving Mel & Tim’s “Starting All Over Again” a grittier quality, while turning Little Willie John’s “Talk to Me” into a lush ballad, complete with an enticing flute accompaniment.  The real surprise here is “I Believe in You (You Believe in Me)” – amongst all this talk of infidelity and divorce, here comes this uplifting song about how Taylor wishes everyone had a woman like his – a real shocker.  There truly isn’t a dud to be found here.  The original album is fleshed out with six bonus cuts – all from the same time period.  Although Taylor would go on to superstardom in 1976 with Disco Lady,” Taylored in Silk shows a master in his domain. –Tony Peters