Blues Bytes

Flashback

February 2020

Jimmy Johnson
Every Day of Your Life
Delmark Records

Jimmy Johnson

Perhaps we're cheating a bit by including a newly-released album in our Flashback section, but Every Day of Your Life is Jimmy Johnson's first album in more than 10 years. It's a throwback to his earlier Delmark recordings, making me feel like we're listening to a vintage blues album.

I'll admit to being apprehensive about what I was going to hear from Mr. Johnson considering that he's now 90. Will he be as nimble on the guitar strings as he was 30 years ago? Will his voice still have the strength to carry a full album? Rest assured, Johnson has obviously found his personal fountain of youth, because the music on Every Day of Your Life does not sound like it's coming from a man just ten years away from hitting triple digits.

Opening the album in fine form is the title cut, kicking off with a funky beat before we hear the trademark Jimmy Johnson voice, still as strong as ever, and then he gets to show that he can still pick the guitar. We also get a dynamite B3 solo from Roosevelt Purifoy, who is solid throughout the album, and soulful backing vocals from Typhanie Monique. Johnson's message here is to live every day of your life like it's your last.

Purifoy is again in the spotlight on "I Need You So Bad," this time on the piano on B.B. King's mid-tempo blues shuffle. "My Ring," a Johnson original, conveys a pleasant island feel as he sings about the day that he gave his ring to his loved one. Bass player J.R. Fuller starts off "Rattlesnake" with a funky beat before Johnson comes in with sublime and superb jazzy guitar licks and some of his strongest vocals of the set.

Fenton Robinson would be proud of Johnson's cover of his blues classic, "Somebody Loan Me A Dime." In Johnson's hands, it's six minutes and 25 seconds of blues heaven, with Brother John Kattke tickling the ivories to great effect. Don't overthink this one. Instead, just sit back and enjoy. Kattke then heads back over to his B3 for the jazzy Johnson original "Down In The Valley."

Are you ready for a Percy Mayfield cover? Of course you are, and Johnson shows his blues chops on the slow blues "Strange Things Happening" before laying down some funky, snappy and sharp guitar chops on the fast-moving instrumental "Better When It's Wet."

Johnson saved the best for last as he sits down at the piano for the soulful spiritual "Lead Me On," best known by Bobby "Blue" Bland's version on Duke Records. There's no other accompaniment for Johnson's piano playing and tender vocals, and none is needed. What a great way to finish this wonderful album.

A good album is one in which its songs keep running through your head long after you've listened to it, and that's the case with Every Day of Your Life. Here's hoping that this launches the next phase of Jimmy Johnson's career and that we get several more releases before he gets to his 100th birthday.

--- Bill Mitchell

 

 

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