STYLE: R&B RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 18782-10656 LABEL: CBS 4506402 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Mike Rimmer
This falsetto-voiced Londoner had originally come to prominence when he joined British gospel pioneers Paradise as co-lead vocalist during the recording of their second album. Certainly his distinct vocals gave the band an extra kick and by the time of their nearly hit single "One Mind Two Hearts" in 1983 (it got to number 42) he had become the band's only singer. When the band split he spent some time as a featured vocalist with LCGC and signed a mainstream contract with CBS. This debut album released in 1987 plays to all his strengths, pushing his extraordinary voice to the fore and the very keyboard-heavy '80s production sounds dated in retrospect but producer Junior "Mama Used To Say" Giscombe had it just right. Although Johnson co-wrote half of the material here, the well chosen covers work well too. Standouts include the bouncy "Fear Of Falling" and the first single "When Love Comes Calling". When it comes to covers, there's an excellent reworking of the Robert Palmer hit "Every Kinda People" which outplays the original and a version of Stevie Wonder's "Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away" which doesn't. Where Johnson excels is romantic ballads and the album contains two corkers. Another single release, "Half A World Away" is just a superb performance with Johnson's vocals melted together with a set of backing singers drawn from the cream of the gospel scene. The CD version of the album allows for a stunning B-side "Where Can You Be" recorded at the same sessions to be included on the album and this has always been a particular favourite if only because it contains a signature smooth vocal slide which is both spine tingling and terrifying! Launched as the new face of British soul in the '80s, Johnson failed to live up to his promise with the debut. "When Love Comes Calling" scraped to 52 in the charts and all the other singles failed to make it. Despite the lack of commercial success, when the album is good, it's really good! But its impact is spoilt by a few tracks that feel like fillers. Worth tracking down for the gems!
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