DONALD RAY JOHNSON
THESE BLUES–THE BEST OF DONALD RAY JOHNSON
MAR VISTA RECORDS MV 7
AIN’T NO FUN TO ME–GONE SO LONG–THESE BLUES–ALWAYS ON MY MIND–SLOW DOWN BABY–HERE TO STAY–ME AND JACK (DANIELS)–LAST TWO DOLLARS–NO GUITAR–IT AIN’T EASY BEING BLUE–THRILLING YOU, KILLING ME–WORKING GIRL BLUES–IT’S TIME
Super soul man Donald Ray Johnson won a Best New Artist Grammy back in 1979 with the group A Taste Of Honey. (“Get down, Boogie Oogie Oogie,” anyone?). Since that time, he’s moved to Alberta, Canada, and released six albums on his own. His latest release is a career-spanning overview of thirteen of his favorite performances, entitled “These Blues.” which embraces his love for blues, soul, and R & B.
He kicks things off with the Al Green classic, “Ain’t No Fun To Me,” with some sweet harp and B-3. This sets the tone for the rest of the album, such as the swingin’ “Gone So Long,” where Donald has a lover who seems to have a lot of friends, who all happen to be men! “No Guitar” is a cool slow-blues dealing with payin’ your dues, while Donald shows his soulful, smooth chops on “Always On My Mind,” “Here To Stay,” and the venerable “Last Two Dollars.” The set closes with the ultra-seductive “It’s Time to make sure love is right.”
We had two favorites, too. In “Me And Jack (Daniels),” Donald finds himself in a losing battle after seven rounds with the Tennessee whiskey man. And, a scorching guitar drives Donald’s biography of sorts, “These Blues are all I own.”
The Disco Era may be long past, but true talents such as Donald Ray Johnson go on and on. His “best of” retrospective, “These Blues,” shows a true bluesman at the top of his game!! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.