by Johnnie Taylor
A life in the blues often means grinding out the same old shuffles and 12-bar ballads year after year, and many artists thrive in this milieu. But when the soulful singer Johnnie Taylor left the gospel of the Soul Stirrers for the secular music world he never stopped refining his sound to fit the times. In the '60s his singing had the virtuous sweetness of his mentor


A life in the blues often means grinding out the same old shuffles and 12-bar ballads year after year, and many artists thrive in this milieu. But when the soulful singer Johnnie Taylor left the gospel of the Soul Stirrers for the secular music world he never stopped refining his sound to fit the times. In the '60s his singing had the virtuous sweetness of his mentor Sam Cooke, who produced Taylor's first lay releases. Taylor's 60's Stax Records are deep R&B; signed to Columbia in the 70's, he took to the dance music craze with the blues-ified "Disco Lady," which was a No.#1 hit on both the R&B and pop charts. The '80s and '90s found Taylor back at home with folks like Z. Z. Hill and Bobby Blue Bland, reviving the blues in the South with a smoother sound geared toward the aging blues audiences of the '60s. All of these phases are captured in the three-CD box set Johnnie Taylor Lifetime, a wonderful retrospective that illustrates how many hues can be shaded into the blues. From the testifying on "The Love of God" through the humorous R&B hit "Who's Making Love" all the way to a very contemporary take on how gambling has affected poor people, "Last Two Dollars," Taylor sings in the moment. His perspective is that of a black man married to his southern roots, for better or worse. This is perhaps why Taylor never made it as big as Al Green, Sam Cooke, or Otis Redding. He had the voice and charisma of these stars, but his commitment never wandered far from home. As Lifetime documents, this remarkably consistent singer spent four decades (mainly) on the fringes of the big time, but he was always deep in the hearts of his fans.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
Taylor gets honored with a three-CD box set for this career retrospective. And it truly is a career retrospective: it spans 1956-1999 and includes a good deal of material that he did for other labels before and after his lengthy Stax stint. It's true that you have to be a pretty deep Taylor fan to commit to nearly four hours of his music. It's also true that even if you are a big Taylor fan, you're likely to need some patience to last through some of the average cuts, or his stylistic transition from gospel to soul to disco and retro-soul. Overall, however, it's a fine commemoration of an important if not quite great soul star. The most valuable components of the set are found on disc one, which kicks off with a half-dozen gospel tunes from his stints with the Highway Q.C.'s and the Soul Stirrers in the late '50s, moving into some of his soul sides for Sam Cooke's SAR label in the early '60s. For the remainder of disc one and some of disc two, there are plenty of fine soul-blues cuts from his early days at Stax in the mid-to-late '60s that will be familiar to relatively few listeners, his fine soul-blues-gospel vocal blend resulting in some of his finest work. As time wore on -- even starting in the early '70s -- Taylor's material got duller and more homogenized, though there were always some highlights to perk up your ears. Unsurprisingly, then, like most box sets, this gets less interesting the closer it draws to the finish line, although wisely his late-'70s Columbia era (yes, "Disco Lady" is here) and post-'70s Malaco output is represented by a mere four cuts each. Ultimately, it's a well-done summation of Taylor's legacy, with an accompanying 50-page booklet including essay, discography, and photos.

Product Details

Release Date:


Disc 1

  1. I Dreamed Heaven Was Like This
  2. Heaven Is My Home
  3. The Love Of God
  4. Out On A Hill
  5. Until Then
  6. When The Gates Swing Open
  7. Never, Never
  8. Rome (Wasn't Built In A Day)
  9. Dance What You Wanna
  10. Baby, We've Got Love
  11. I Had A Dream
  12. Easy Lovin'
  13. I've Got To Love Somebody's Baby
  14. Just the One (I've Been Looking For)
  15. Part Time Love
  16. Sixteen Tons
  17. Somebody's Sleeping In My Bed
  18. Blues in the Night
  19. Save Your Love for Me
  20. I Need Lots Of Love
  21. You Can't Win With A Losing Hand
  22. Rumors
  23. You Don't Know Like I Know
  24. Twenty Years From Today
  25. Twenty Years From Today

Disc 2

  1. Little Bluebird
  2. Toe Hold
  3. That's Where It's At
  4. I Ain't Particular
  5. Woman Across The River
  6. Who's Making Love?
  7. I'm Not The Same Person
  8. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water
  9. Mr. Nobody Is Somebody Now
  10. Take Care Of Your Homework
  11. Testify (I Wanna)
  12. Separation Line
  13. I Could Never Be President
  14. Love Bones
  15. Steal Away
  16. Steal Away
  17. I Am Somebody, Pts. 1-2
  18. Jody's Got Your Girl And Gone
  19. I Don't Wanna Lose You, Pt. 1-2
  20. Don't Take My Sunshine
  21. Hijackin' Love

Disc 3

  1. Standing In For Jody
  2. Doing My Own Thing, Pt. 1
  3. Stop Doggin' Me
  4. I Believe In You (You Believe In Me)
  5. Cheaper To Keep Her
  6. We're Getting Careless With Our Love
  7. Starting All Over Again
  8. I've Been Born Again
  9. It's September
  10. Try Me Tonight
  11. Free
  12. Disco Lady
  13. Running Out Of Lies
  14. God Is Standing By
  15. Play Something Pretty
  16. Lady, My Whole World Is You
  17. Lover Boy
  18. Last Two Dollars
  19. Soul Heaven

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Johnnie Taylor   Primary Artist,Guitar
Steve Cropper   Guitar
Frederick Knight   Keyboards,Background Vocals
Bernie Worrell   Keyboards
Leonard Williams   Background Vocals
Lee Richardson   Vocals
Thomisene Anderson   Background Vocals
Gary Armstrong   Horn
Joe Arnold   Saxophone
Jack Ashford   Tambourine
Barry Beckett   Keyboards
Bootsy Collins   Bass
Harrison Calloway   Horn
Ben Cauley   Horn
Roger Clark   Percussion,Drums
Leroy Crume   Guitar,Vocals
Don Davis   Guitar
Mickey Davis   Strings
Janet Dressler   Strings
Donald "Duck" Dunn   Bass
Ronnie Eades   Horn
Paul Foster   Vocals
Richard Gibbs   Vocals
Ray Griffin   Bass
Isaac Hayes   Organ,Piano
Leroy Hadley   Guitar
Rene Hall   Leader
Claudette Hampton   Strings
Roger Hawkins   Drums
Catherine Henderson   Background Vocals
Eddie Hinton   Guitar
David Hood   Bass
Jim Horn   Horn
Clayton Ivey   Keyboards
Wayne Jackson   Trumpet
Jimmy Johnson   Guitar
Andrew Love   Saxophone
Bobby Manuel   Guitar
Will McFarlane   Guitar
Tim Mika   Strings
Earl Palmer   Drums
Peggy Plucker   Strings
Bob Ray   Bass
James Robertson   Drums
R.B. Robinson   Vocals
Rudy Robinson   Keyboards
Charles Rose   Horn
Spencer Taylor   Vocals
Tommy Tedesco   Guitar
Marvell Thomas   Keyboards
Harvey Thompson   Horn
Carson Whitsett   Keyboards
Dino Zimmerman   Guitar
Al Jackson   Drums
Bob McNally   Strings
Bobby Jackson   Guitar
John Anderson   Trumpet
Vickie Lancaster   Percussion
Vinnie Ciesielski   Horn
Bennett Randman   Strings
Linda Geidel   Strings
John Frantz   Strings
Raymond Jackson   Guitar
Brian Gum   Strings
Quanda Brooks   Vocals
Sybil Cheesman   Flute
Dennis Soule   Horn
Johnny Soul   Percussion,Drums
Angela Walls   Background Vocals
Charles Richardson   Vocals
LaTonya Youngblood   Background Vocals
Arthur Franklin   Bass
Sonya Washington   Background Vocals
John Ewing   Trombone
Booker T. Jones   Organ,Piano
Jesse J. Farley   Vocals
Edgar Redmond   Saxophone
Arthur Armstrong   Guitar

Technical Credits

Sam Cooke   Composer
Steve Cropper   Composer
Eddie Floyd   Composer
Frederick Knight   Programming
Clay Hammond   Composer
Van McCoy   Composer
Harvey Scales   Composer
Paul Kelly   Composer
Homer Banks   Composer
Charles Richard Cason   Composer
Billy Davis   Composer
Don Davis   Composer
Isaac Hayes   Composer
Rene Hall   Arranger
Tony Hester   Composer
Lee Hildebrand   Liner Notes
Russell Jackson   Composer
Booker T. Jones   Composer
Paul Jordan   Composer
David Porter   Composer
Mack Rice   Composer
Jesse Stone   Composer
Cam Wilson   Composer
Al Jackson   Composer
James Alexander   Composer
Jamie Putnam   Art Direction,Slipcover Concept
Raymond Jackson   Composer
Linda Kalin   Booklet Design
Bettye Crutcher   Composer
Kent Barker   Composer
Arthur Snyder   Composer
Lee Vance   Composer
Richard Wylie   Composer
Alvertis Isbell   Composer
David Johnson   Composer
Johnston   Composer
Kelly   Composer
Johnson   Composer
D. Taylor   Composer
Allen Jones   Composer

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