For decades, Mississippi-born Syl Johnson has blessed the world of funk and soul with his music, shaping the sound of hip hop artists even to this day!
Releasing his debut solo album in 1959 via Federal records (a subsidiary of Cincinnati’s King Records), Johnson was also a music producer who sang and played with blues greats such as Magic Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells and Howlin’ Wolf – but this was before he started making a name for himself!
Johnson’s recording career continued right up til the mid-80’s, after which he decided to retire from performing so that he could open his own restaurant. But in 1992 he made an unexpected comeback after finding just how many times Different Strokes and Is It Because I’m Black had been sampled by hip hop/rappers! This discovery inspired his return to the music industry and less than two years later he had released a brand new album which also featured his singer-songwriter daughter, Syleena Johnson.
So I guess it will come as no surprise to discover that today’s song has been sampled in various hip hop tracks including RJD2’s Two More Dead. Concrete Reservation was released as a 45 in 1970, coupled with Together Forever on the flip-side. Its lavish strings curve their way through the song with lustrious ease, smooth and slinky in their delivery as they punctuate groove lines for the funk bass to sprawl itself out over. Johnson’s vocals are rich and striking, cutting their way through this chunky funk of soul with that same unfaltering prowess that is so well known for…you may have heard this one before, but it’s a good one! Check it out above and listen to another Syl Johnson track on my blog page here.