Syl Johnson - Talkin' Bout Chicago!
  • 01 Come On With It
  • 02 Cheryl
  • 03 Sweet Dynamite!
  • 04 Talkin' Bout Chicago
  • 05 Diff'rent Strokes (B.E.T.)
  • 06 I'm Back Into You
  • 07 Different Kind Of Man
  • 08 Surrounded
  • 09 Caribbean Beach
  • 10 Get Free - Call Me
  • 11 Trade Secret
  • 12 Finger Lickin' Good
  • 13 All Night Long
  • 14 Woo-Wee!
  • 01 Come On With It
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (03:00) [7.2 MB]
  • 02 Cheryl
    Genre: Soul
    MP3 (04:26) [10.49 MB]
  • 03 Sweet Dynamite!
    Genre: Funk
    MP3 (04:31) [10.7 MB]
  • 04 Talkin' Bout Chicago
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (03:40) [8.73 MB]
  • 05 Diff'rent Strokes (B.E.T.)
    Genre: Soul
    MP3 (05:00) [11.77 MB]
  • 06 I'm Back Into You
    Genre: Funk
    MP3 (03:25) [8.17 MB]
  • 07 Different Kind Of Man
    Genre: Soul
    MP3 (05:29) [12.9 MB]
  • 08 Surrounded
    Genre: Soul
    MP3 (05:26) [12.76 MB]
  • 09 Caribbean Beach
    Genre: Soul
    MP3 (03:46) [8.95 MB]
  • 10 Get Free - Call Me
    Genre: Funk
    MP3 (04:51) [11.43 MB]
  • 11 Trade Secret
    Genre: Soul
    MP3 (04:23) [10.4 MB]
  • 12 Finger Lickin' Good
    Genre: Funk
    MP3 (04:19) [10.21 MB]
  • 13 All Night Long
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:36) [10.89 MB]
  • 14 Woo-Wee!
    Genre: Funk
    MP3 (04:49) [11.38 MB]
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Syl Johnson
Talkin’ Bout Chicago
Delmark DE-729

1. Come On With It 2:56
2. Cheryl 4:24
3. Sweet Dynamite! 4:29
4. Talkin’ Bout Chicago 3:36
5. Diff’rent Strokes (B.E.T.) 4:57
6. Back Into You 3:21
7. Different Kind Of Man 5:27
8. Surrounded 5:22
9. Caribbean Beach 3:42
10. Get Free - Call Me 4:48
11. Trade Secret 4:21
12. Finger Lickin’ Good 4:17
13. All Night Long 4:34
14. Woo-Wee! 4:48

Here it is! The eagerly awaited 2nd album for Delmark Records by Syl Johnson. One of the great soul singin’ bluesmen of all time, Syl fires up 14 explosive new numbers on Talkin’ Bout Chicago!

1. Come On With It (Sampson/Johnson, Syl-Zel Music Co., BMI) 2:56
2. Cheryl (Hodges/Sampson/Johnson, Syl-Zel Music Co., BMI) 4:24
3. Sweet Dynamite! (Nathan/Sampson/Johnson, Nickel Bag Music, BMI/Syl- Zel Music Co., BMI) 4:29
4. Talkin’ Bout Chicago (Hodges/Sampson/Johnson, Syl-Zel Music Co., BMI) 3:36
5. Diff’rent Strokes (B.E.T.) (Johnson, Syl-Zel Music Co., BMI) 4:57
6. Back Into You (BBQ/Blade/Nathan/Vandermark/Sampson/Johnson, Nickel Bag Music, BMI/Syl-Zel Music Co., BMI) 3:21
7. Different Kind Of Man (Sampson/Johnson, Syl-Zel Music Co., BMI) 5:27
8. Surrounded (Sampson/Johnson, Syl-Zel Music Co., BMI) 5:22
9. Caribbean Beach (Sampson/Johnson, Syl-Zel Music Co., BMI) 3:42
10. Get Free - Call Me (Sampson/Nathan/Johnson, Nickel Bag Music, BMI/Syl- Zel Music Co., BMI) 4:48
11. Trade Secret (Sampson/Johnson, Syl-Zel Music Co., BMI) 4:21
12. Finger Lickin’ Good (J. Boykins, Janboy-Wilhen Publishing Co., BMI/Syl-Zel Music Co., BMI) 4:17
13. All Night Long (Samuel Magghett, P.D.) 4:34
14. Woo-Wee! (Hodges/Sampson/Johnson, Syl-Zel Music Co., BMI) 4:48

Syl Johnson, vocals, guitar, harmonica
Charles Hodges, organ, piano
Orlando Wright, bass
Wayne Stewart, drums

Pete Nathan, guitar on 3,5,6,10
Kenny Anderson, trumpet
Gene Barge, tenor saxophone
Willie Wood, trombone
Willie Henderson, baritone saxophone
Theresa Davis, background vocals
Dianne Madison, background vocals

Sometimes it's hard to know which is most striking about Syl Johnson: his supreme resiliency, the futility of trying to consign him to history (even though his is plenty prolific and illustrious) or the multiplicity of assets which makes it so hard to categorize him. The resiliency is reflected in the fact that this is his fifth decade as a significant musical force, though he'd much rather focus on today and tomorrow. All it takes to understand why he's not a relic is a listen to Talkin’ Bout Chicago!, as up to the minute as it is solidly grounded in his previous work and style. And as for categorization, few make it harder to single out one handle for themselves. After all, Syl's a man who's even had a name change on wax, when Federal altered his given name of Thompson to Johnson. Beyond that, he's a singer, guitarist, harmonica player, front man, veteran sideman, songwriter whose lyrics have always kept a contemporary edge, producer, A & R man and label owner. He's a unique stylist, but from one of Chicago's distinguished musical families (along with stalwart bluesman Jimmy Johnson and Magic Sam's longtime bassist Mac Thompson). He's a definer of Chicago soul, but some of his greatest records reflect their Memphis point of origin. He has impeccable credentials as a bluesman himself, but other styles are basic components of his music along with soul. Luckily for all of us, the last few years of the century have given us a lot more of Syl to try to figure out who he is, and Talkin’ Bout Chicago! makes it a joy to try to solve the question-- if it matters.
Syl doesn't want to get any more specific about his origins than "from Mississippi, born in the late '30s." His father Samuel played guitar and harmonica. During Syl's youth, the family moved to Chicago, where the neighbors included a young Sam Maghett, better known in the future as Magic Sam. At a precocious age, Syl began gigging as a blues guitarist. He probably made his recording debut in 1956 backing Louis Myers & the Aces on Abco. Other early studio appearances of note came with Billy Boy Arnold and Junior Wells. Those recordings make it clear that Syl was one of the foremost pioneers of the boogie-based, percussive "west side" guitar style (which also generally accompanied gospel-inflected vocals) exemplified by Sam, Freddie King, Syl and classic singles by these icons and Otis Rush on Cobra Records. His own discography as a leader, as well as his new professional identity, began with sides on King Records' Federal subsidiary. Those singles ranged from hard blues driven by Syl's or Freddie's guitar to R & B and ballads like a cover of James Brown's "Please Please Please." Though little success resulted, it was apparent that Syl's crying, flexible voice was one of the notable sounds in Chicago and the R & B world in general with its character, melisma, wails and falsetto. It went on to dent the charts in the '60s, '70s and '80s. He scored for Zachron with "Straight Love, No Chaser" in 1966, then for Twilight and Twinight paced by 1967's "Come On Sock It To Me," also blossoming as an all-around session hand. Memphis soul great Willie Mitchell heard him perform at Chicago's Burning Spear and was motivated to collaborate; the first result was a success in '68. "Is It Because I'm Black" made some noise the following year. In '71 Syl went to Hi for six years of some of his greatest work with Mitchell including three outstanding albums and the evergreen "Take Me To The River." During this artistic and commercial peak (though he's stated his preference for the somewhat rawer Twinight era), he added harmonica to his arsenal on record. Syl had perhaps the last Chicago bluesman's radio hit in '82 with "Ms. Fine Brown Frame." That song showed his continuing sense of the contemporary by being perhaps the first blues (and disco)-based outing to plug a rap in where a solo would have previously fallen. After that, Syl got diverted for awhile by business interests outside of music, but he made a glorious return in 1994 when Delmark released the Pete Nathan-produced Back In The Game (Delmark 674). He went on to release CDs on Mardi Gras (with his daughter Syleena) and Antone's, and now he's back with Nathan and Delmark for more excellence.
With an illustrious small group comprised of Charles Hodges, Orlando Wright and Wayne Stewart (and occasional funky rhythm guitar from Nathan) and a pinch of horns and backup vocals, he covers all his usual ground and even updates it-- yes, that is a reference to Y2K in the remake of the oft-sampled "Diff'rent Strokes." (Baritone saxophonist Willie Henderson played on both the original and the remake; Paul Serrano, who played trumpet on the original, was behind the board this time.) An emphasis was put on fresh material; lyricist Marge Sampson had a hand in eleven of the songs. Blues guitar lovers will find plenty to savor on "Woo Wee," the Magic Sam tribute "All Night Long" and "Come On With It," and Syl serves up harmonica on "Talkin' Bout Chicago," "All Night Long" and "Finger Lickin' Good." The plaintive "Different Kind Of Man" is a minor waltz, while "Caribbean Beach" is reminiscent of Syl's debut recording "Teardrops." Syl's trademark stop time hooks mark "Surrounded," Come On With It" and "Diff'rent Strokes." "Back Into You" is slinky funk; the Memphis-meets-Chicago-sanctified-soul feel also permeates "Cheryl," "Trade Secret," "Sweet Dynamite" and "Get Free - Call Me." As always, Syl is reaching for dancers and young ears as well as the blues audience. The versatility is presented with a consistency and savvy that unifies it into a charge of dynamite-- but sweet dynamite.
As Pruter wrote, "One can find plenty of evidence that [Syl] created a body of work that ranked in artistry with most giants of the soul field-- Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke, and Gene Chandler." Not to mention being a blues trendsetter on his own who also made the records of some Chicago greats better. But again, why try to categorize him when we can just groove and consider the new and finger lickin' good evidence on Talkin’ Bout Chicago!
--- Dick Shurman

Produced by Pete Nathan
Co-produced by Syl Johnson
Album Production and Supervision: Robert G. Koester
Recorded at Riverside Studio, Chicago by John "Bugs" Parkinson and Paul Serrano
Mixed at Riverside Studio by Paul Serrano, Pete Nathan and Syl Johnson
Photography: Paul G. Taylor Design: Al Brandtner


If you took a coin, tossed it in a fountain and wished for the best music that Chicago had to offer, that wish would come true in Syl Johnson's new
Delmark release, Talkin' Bout Chicago! Like the reflections in the water, Syl skillfully showcases a blend of R&B, Blues, Soul and a touch of the Islands and brings it all together in a cohesive structure. Produced by Chicago talent Pete Nathan and co-produced by Syl Johnson, this CD celebrates the musical voices of a city ready to move into the new century and the next thousand years! Syl takes the past and moves towards this future with a defining Chicago sound.

With the invitation to "Come On With It," Syl answers the challenge and comes on with a strong opener and it just keeps building up momentum. With Wayne Stewart on drums, Orlando Wright on bass, Charles Hodges on keyboards, Gene Barge and Willie Henderson working with Chicago"s finest horns and the icing of Teresa Davis and Diane Madison it explodes into "Sweet Dynamite."

And the multi-instrumentalist had more tricks up his sleeve! Besides his voice as an instrument, playing harmonica and guitar, Syl skillfully wove a whistle into "Trade Secret." Whistling is a lost art form in the North but has been a mainstay of Southern life. Born in Mississippi, Syl brings the Delta roots forward and builds upon them, continually advancing and redefining the art form. From his days in Memphis and Number one hits in Cash Box, Syl hasn't stopped. His songwriting excels and his originals have been covered recently by Jonny Lang, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, Boz Scaggs; and rappers, such as Wu Tang Clan, have sampled his tracks. His recently produced project featuring his daughter,Syleena, helped get her signed to Jive Records.

His soulful arrangement on "Different Kind of Man," brings on a powerful ache and tug at the heart. But it was the track "Talkin' Bout Chicago," that brought tears to his eyes. Thinking of his recently departed friend Jr. Wells, Syl gave a tribute to him with this anthem. And it also symbolized his freedom from the Jim Crow south to the opportunities that Chicago had to offer. Because he loves Magic Sam and some of his early history and was greatly influenced by him, he covers "All Night Long."

There was joking at the studio while creating this product as Bob Koester became so excited listening to Syl, he forgot his food in the microwave and started a fire that Katie Koester discovered! Sue Koester had to laugh at that, it's a hot product that can start a blaze!

This fine album will give Chicago something to brag about when the tourists hit our sweet home for the millennium celebrations. With strong original lyrics from Pete Nathan, Charles Hodges and Margaret Sampson, Syl has something to sing and yes, even shout about!

So, toss that coin, make a wish and enjoy Chicago! Your Blues dreams
are answered here and there is going to be more to come!

Other Delmark Albums Of Interest:
Syl Johnson, Back In The Game (674) with Hi Rhythm
Jimmy Burns, Leaving Here Walking (694)
Night Time Again (730)
Little Milton, Live At Westville Prison (681)
Jimmy Johnson, North/South (647)
Johnson’s Whacks, (644)
Magic Sam, West Side Soul (615)
Black Magic (620)
Live (645)
The Magic Sam Legacy (651)
Give Me Time (654)
Junior Wells, Hoodoo Man Blues (612) with Buddy Guy
Southside Blues Jam (628) with Buddy Guy, Otis Spann
On Tap (635) with Phil Guy, Sammy Lawhorn
Blues Hit Big Town (640) with Muddy Waters, Elmore James

Call or write for a free catalog of jazz and blues:
Delmark Records 1800 684 3480
4121 N. Rockwell
Chicago, IL 60618
C P 1999 Delmark Records

  • Members:
    Syl Johnson Band
  • Sounds Like:
  • Influences:
    Blues, R&B, Soul
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
  • Profile Last Updated:
    08/14/23 13:59:49

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