Album

Johnson & Branson

Johnson & Branson

Genre : R&B soul psychedelic soul funk jazz
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  1. So Fine
  2. Still in Love With You
  3. Love it like you do
  4. Say you will
  5. Hang around me
  6. It really doesn’t matter
  7. You’ll never need
  8. Just a chance
  9. King of fools
  10. Every little thing
  11. Mystical persausion
  12. Freaknight on a weekend

Howard Johnson and Regis Branson are two artists that are familiar to me via their debut duet album from over a decade ago now. Soul Japan sent me this album, which is their second excellent release following their fine ‘Project Butterfly’ outing last year. Howard Johnson is a fine soul singer, ever since his early days with Niteflyte and his collaborations with Kashif in the early Eighties.

This set kicks off with a revamped version of his R & B hit ‘So Fine’. This album is not a one track affair, in fact it is a fine all round release. Regis Branson’s warm tones compliment Howards and the whole set forms a very satisfying start to the new year. Of the cuts on offer here, ‘Still In Love With You’, ‘Hang Around Me (drop dead gorgeous!), ‘It Really Doesn’t Matter’, ‘Just A Chance’, ‘King Of Fools’ (really quite excellent) and ‘Every Little Thing’ make up a quality package that I would heartily recommend in this time of Worldly change. Music of a very high soulful quality. Buy blind. Enough said.
( www.soulwalking.co.uk )


This now impossible-to-find CD is an unadulterated SOUL album with its feet firmly in an 80s groove with a 21st Century edge, and lush ballads that really cut the mustard. Well crafted and executed, “Packed & Waitin'” has no fillers and nothing weak – this is very much a ‘put it on and leave it on’ job!

Basically, if you love their 80s material then hunt down this rare CD. Those who fear a nasty and unnecessary remake of “So Fine” need not worry – this updated version still nods its head to the superior dance sound of the mid 1980s but has that rough edge that so characterises the sound of now. Similarly, the exciting “Still In Love With You” utilises the freaky keyboards and instrumentation we would not expect to hear in today’s stripped down, sampled and minimalist music. “Love It Like You Do” and “Say You Will” are exquisite mid-tempo offerings, the latter laced with a dream bass line in the vein of Mary Jane Girls’ “All Night Long” and Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” keyboard riff – so one for the beach again, folks! The breezy “Hang Around Me” is really fresh and showcases Howard Johnson perfectly – the light backdrop not drowning out his unique vocals one iota. The cream cut comes in the form of “It Really Doesn’t Matter” which has a guitar and keyboard so reminiscent of Leon Ware – and vocally Regis is a dead ringer for dear old Luther!. The talented singer called Portia Griffin ‘duets’ with Howard on the ballad “You’ll Never Need” and “Just A Chance” lifts the tempo and mood, jumping back into a classic 80s groove yet again. If “It Doesn’t Really Matter” wasn’t killer enough, check the chunky floater “King Of Fools” which is such a STRONG record complete with baseline and fender rhodes. Regis Branson is allowed control over this song and shows that he really can deliver the goods big time! You will also be aware of Will Downing’s tasty version for GRP later that year! Following the cheerful dancer, “Every Little Thing” comes the gentle “Mystical Persuasion” which is simply delightful in every way. The closing song isn’t the best uptempo cut here, but is a fairly decent closing song for a well balanced album of groove, seduction, rough and smooth vocals and that magic ingredient…Soul !.
Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe


1989 saw their first joint album released and featured the gorgeous ballads All My Love and the Leon Ware-ish Midnight Lady. So, as a BIG fan of both men via their solo efforts such as “Keeping Love New” etc (Johnson) and “Indian Summer” (Branson with Najee) I salivated at the idea of these two vocal giants back together again in 2003. What we have here is an unadulterated SOUL album with its feet firmly in an 80s groove with a 21st Century edge, and lush ballads that really cut the mustard. Well crafted and executed, “Packed & Waitin'” has no fillers and nothing weak – this is very much a ‘put it on and leave it on’ job! Basically, if you love their old material then just buy this CD blind. Those who fear a nasty and unnecessary remake of “So Fine” need not worry – this updated version still nods its head to the superior dance sound of the mid 1980s but has that rough edge that so characterises the sound of 2003.
Similarly, the exciting “Still In Love With You” utilises the freaky keyboards and instrumentation we would not expect to hear in today’s stripped down, sampled and minimalist music. “Love It Like You Do” and “Say You Will” are exquisite mid-tempo offerings, the latter laced with a dream bass line in the vein of Mary Jane Girls’ “All Nigh Long” and Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” keyboard riff – so one for the beach again, folks! The breezy “Hang Around Me” is really fresh and showcases Howard Johnson perfectly – the light backdrop not drowning out his unique vocals one iota.
A KILLER track comes in the form of “It Really Doesn’t Matter” which has a guitar and keyboard so reminiscent of Leon Ware – and vocally Regis is a dead ringer for dear old Luther! Not surprising as Regis has at least one song from his pen on Luther’s upcoming CD for J records at the tail end of 2003! And THAT is tasty, too folks, believe me! A talented singer called Portia Griffin ‘duets’ with Howard on the ballad “You’ll Never Need” – I hope there will be a set from her on its way before too long.
Furthermore, “Just A Chance” lifts the tempo and the mood and jumps back into the classic 80s groove yet again – a decade that is criminally ignored. If “It Doesn’t Really Matter” wasn’t killer enough, check the chunky floater “King Of Fools” which is such a STRONG record complete with bass line and fender rhodes. Regis Branson is allowed control over this song and shows that he really can deliver the goods big time! Following the cheerful dancer, “Every Little Thing” comes the gentle “Mystical Persuasion” which will be spun on my hi-fi rather regularly I can tell you.
The closing song isn’t the best uptempo cut here, but is a fairly decent closing song for a well balanced album of groove, seduction, rough and smooth vocals and that magic ingredient…Soul! A label to watch out for…a new album fromPortrait coming soon!

( www.soulexpress.net )

It really doesn’t matter // Johnson & Branson
  1. It really doesn’t matter // Johnson & Branson
  2. Love it like you do // Johnson & Branson
  3. Every little thing // Johnson & Branson
  4. Freaknight on a weekend // Johnson & Branson
  5. Mystical persausion // Johnson & Branson
  6. Still in Love With You // Johnson & Branson
  7. You’ll never need // Johnson & Branson
  8. Hang around me // Johnson & Branson
  9. Just a chance // Johnson & Branson
  10. King of fools // Johnson & Branson
  11. So Fine // Johnson & Branson
  12. Say you will // Johnson & Branson