Feeling The Magic
256+ CBR LAME mp3
Vinyl Rip & scans from MGM SE 4983
Johnny Bristol was one of the best songwriters of the 60s-80s soul scene. I won't bother going into his bio since there's no point repeating what's already been said better elsewhere. This is probably my favourite of the bunch because it was the first of his I ever heard (picked it up as a teen in the late 80s) and it has his version of "I Wouldn't Change A Thing" that most folks know from Coke Escovedo's version on the 13th Ultimate Breaks n Beats. Although he was an integral component of Motown's rise in the late 60s as a writer, arranger and producer, his solo albums made after his departure from Hitsville U.S.A. are not that well-known outside of a hardcore fan base (present company included) but are essential soul listening so I've provided links to their respective homes on the blogosphere. Don't sleep!
by Lindsay Planer
After establishing himself as a considerable multi-talented figure at Motown during the label's Detroit heyday, Johnny Bristol went solo, cutting several long-players beginning in the mid-'70s. His second, Feeling the Magic (1975), is much in keeping with his debut, Hang On In There Baby (1974), if not in some ways arguably stronger. Veteran Motown arranger Paul Riser sets a perfect balance of solid, swinging uptempo grooves and sultry intimate ballads. The opener, "Leave My World," rocks steadily behind an airy Memphis-style soul shuffle. He also utilizes one of his trademark vocal overdubs, giving the listener the impression of two vocalists as his double-tracked voice sounds as if there are alternating performers, especially when singing harmonies. "Morganton, North Carolina" is an edgy reminiscence of the hard times and experiences that shaped Bristol during the days in his hometown. The horn and string sections lay down tasty Philly soul fills over the top of the otherwise driving backbeat. Pulling off a great Barry White-inspired vibe, "Love Takes Tears" weaves a soaring hypnotic melody not unlike the one incorporated into the title track from Hang On In There Baby, which was itself a huge crossover hit -- although when "Love Takes Tears" was issued on a 45 b/w "Go On and Dream," it failed to enter the pop charts and stalled at 72 on the R&B countdown. "Feeling the Magic" is a full-bodied knockout that could have doubled for Al Green under the spell of Thom Bell. Showing his lascivious side, Bristol seethes through "Lusty Lady" with an unapologetic and irresistibly honest portrayal of a well-known and recently departed prostitute. The pace slows for the tender and heartfelt longing of "I'm Just a Loser" and the romantic and introspective "All Goodbyes Aren't Gone." "I Wouldn't Change a Thing" concludes Feeling the Magic on a positive note and hitting on all cylinders. Particularly notable is guitarist Melvin "Wah Wah" Ragin's emphatic fretwork, which adds an effervescent luster to the already vivacious score.
1974 Hang On In There Baby
at So Good Music
1976 Bristol's Creme
at Original Soul 4 Life
1981 Free To Be Me
at So Good Music
They've all been reissued on CD in the past few years (The first two collected as Johnny Bristol: The MGM Years and the rest individually by P-Vine) but they get snatched up pretty quickly. Check GEMM, Music Stack or eBay regularly and you can probably get the original vinyls for as low as $5 - $10.
Producer, Written-By - Johnny Bristol
Bass - Henry E. Davis
Congas - Joe L. Clayton
Drums - Eddie Greene
Guitar - David T. Walker, Melvin "Wah Wah" Ragin, Ray E. Parker, Jr.
Percussion, Vibraphone - Gene Estes
Piano - Clarence K. McDonald, Russ Turner
Arranged By - Paul Riser
1 Leave My World
2 Morganton, North Carolina
3 Go On And Dream
4 Love Takes Tears
5 Feeling The Magic
6 Lusty Lady
7 I'm Just A Loser
8 Girl, You Got Your Act Together
9 All Goodbyes Aren't Gone
10 I Wouldn't Change A Thing
Soundological hopes you'll feel the magic for yourself HERE and HERE.
JB performing "Do It To My Mind" from Bristol's Creme on Soul Train