Johnny Robinson – 1970 – Memphis High
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Deep soul gem from the Hi studios, produced by Willie Mitchell, in the style of Al Green, O.V.Wright, or Syl Johnson.
Not much info’s can be found for Johnny Robinson, who begun his career with a superb deep soul ballad “it’s all over” which seems to have been his first 45. He was born in Tuskagee, Alabama in 1939 and had the normal gospel training before joining the secular world with this disc in 1966/7. No real info on the location of the recording, but Benny Hall’s name on the writing credits would suggest the Big Apple, but what a magnificent display of dramatic emotion Robinson puts on. He went on to cut 3 wonderful 45s for Okeh (the double sided “Poor Man”/”When A Man Cries” being amongst the best deep soul 45s) before trying his hand with Willie Mitchell who leased the famous Memphis High album to Epic. This LP is one of the best of the classic Hi sound sets and Johnny’s gruff, committed vocals suit the setting perfectly. A strange final 45 as the lead singer of Que Sunrise on Just Sunshine seems to have rounded off his recording career.
This is a @320 vinyl rip of the original epic records including covers
A1. Funky Feet 2.54
A2. We Are Gonna Make It 2.25
A3. For Your Love 3.06
A4. Kansas City 2.28
A5. God Is Love 2.50
B1. Slip Away 3.00
B2. Nothing Can Touch This Love 3.29
B3. Lady Doctor 3.46
B4. Person To Person 2.31
B5. Reconsider Me 3.58
B6. Don’t Take It So Hard 3.12
Johnny Robinson’s sole studio LP remains a lost classic of Memphis soul. Produced by Willie Mitchell during one of his rare sabbaticals from the Hi Records stable, Memphis High captures a rougher, earthier sound than Mitchell’s landmark work for Al Green or Ann Peebles but proves well suited to Robinson’s gritty, impassioned approach. Robinson is a quintessential deep soul balladeer, rooted in gospel and haunted by demons. Mitchell’s slow-burning arrangements mirror the intensity of his subject, evoking the purity and turmoil of his psyche (All Music Guide).
There’s a CD reissue includes six bonus tracks comprising Robinson’s three subsequent singles for Okeh, most notably the poignant double-sided effort “Poor Man”/”When a Man Cries. You can buy original or reissue LP here.
If anyone has more information about Johnny Robinson please make a comment. Those who liked O.V. Wright and his amazing album “Memphis Unlimited” posted sometime ago, will adore this one too. Enjoy!!
Nobody can say it better than Groovy Emmanuel : It is southern groove definitely as it was defined by the great Willie Mitchell, all recorded at Memphis’ Hi studio but relealed by the big Epic. Thtat’s why it is called “Memphis High” not “Memphis Hi” at least in my mind! And it was all conceived in an old 8 track recorder, a poor equipment indeed, but capable enough to free such great feeling… A new black sound then that it was to become “The Sound” in the years to come, centered around some fine tuned-in drumming by Al Jackson Jr or Howard Grimes and brought up by the mighty playing of the fine session mucisians there. Teenie who did the arrangements here is one of the three Hodges brothers who did all the work at Hi studio. All due respect to them!!! Great great music.