Blues Attack

Blues Attack

by Shirley JohnsonShirley Johnson


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Shirley Johnson has toiled regularly in Chicago nightspots for decades, and follows up her successful Delmark CD Killer Diller with this set of originals and soul standards, sporting all of the rich tradition and solid singing style made popular by many less talented vocalists. Her voice is well preserved, not evidencing any abuse or overuse, and represents the best in this tradition of female artists who recognize aspects of being played, while answering with a few tricks and schemes of their own. Johnson is truly a great blues singer, with a deeper tone than Chi-Town contemporary Koko Taylor, refined in a similar manner to her main influence and fellow Norfolk, VA, native Ruth Brown, with a wise, doting attitude à la Mavis Staples. She has solid support from up to a six-piece horn section on a handful of tracks, backup singers, and her band with guitarist Luke Pytel, keyboardist Roosevelt Purifoy, bassist Lovely Fuller, Jr., and drummer Cordell Teague, all quite able, competent bluesmen. Though Maurice John Vaughn does not play guitar on this date, he is present and accounted for in composing or co-composing five of the songs. "You're Reckless" is a typical stern bad lover blues shuffle; "Selfish Kind of Gal" flips the switch as Johnson adopts a choogling beat while stating in an insular manner that she's "breakin' hearts and havin' fun"; and the potential hit "Lost and Alone" is at once demanding and unsettled, with the singer unwilling to put up with "second hand crap." "You Shouldn't Have Been There" has Johnson singing a ballad of regret or possible two-timing, and goes 180 degrees again in a ray of hope and movin' on during "I'm Going to Find Me a Lover." Ever mindful of her status as a soul veteran, she does great versions of the Stax classic "634-5789" from the book of Wilson Pickett and the Ray Charles evergreen "Unchain My Heart" with a marvelous free intro, both with her backup singers. Johnson's bandmembers also contribute songs, as Purifoy wrote the slower, funky, contemporary "My Baby Played Me for a Fool." Fuller co-penned the title track, referring not to a militaristic attack or heart attack but rather a blues attack, as also heard on the classic-style 12-bar "Just Like That" and the combo funk
etro-soul song of dismissal "Take Your Foot Off My Back." Shirley Johnson has been around the north side of Chicago since the early '80s, and if you are in her neighborhood, you owe it to yourself to check one of her performances out. Meanwhile, this excellent recording will do just fine instead.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/10/2009
Label: Delmark
UPC: 0038153079826
catalogNumber: 798
Rank: 92249

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Shirley Johnson   Primary Artist,Vocals
Kenny Anderson   Trumpet,Accompaniment
Willie Henderson   Baritone Saxophone,Accompaniment
Herb Walker   Rhythm Guitar,Accompaniment
Hank Ford   Tenor Saxophone,Accompaniment
Lawrence Fields   Tenor Saxophone,Soloist,Accompaniment
Roberta Thomas   Tambourine,Background Vocals,Accompaniment
Cordell Teague   Drums,Accompaniment
Lovely "JR" Fuller   Bass,Accompaniment
Luke Pytel   Guitar,Accompaniment

Technical Credits

Steve Cropper   Composer
Kenny Anderson   Horn Arrangements
Shirley Johnson   Composer
Robert G. Koester   Producer
Maurice John Vaughn   Composer
David Whiteis   Liner Notes
Marc PoKempner   Cover Photo
Roberta Thomas   Arranger
Roosevelt Purifoy   Composer
Steve Wagner   Producer,Engineer
Fuller   Composer
Lenis Guess   Composer
Powell   Composer
Sharp   Composer
Quintus McCormick   Composer
Floyd   Composer
Emmanuela Tao   Composer
Thomas   Composer
Johnson   Composer

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