Johnnie Taylor
Stop Half-Loving These Women
Paula 9010
Johnnie Taylor hit way big with Malaco's Good Love, reputedly with sales of around half a million. Anyone thinking this Paula CD is a cash-in collection of hard soul-blues from Taylor's hungry past will be disappointed. Rather, it's 10 cuts of Taylor the way he's been since the very early '70s, up to his cummerbund in horns, strings, synths and electronic percussion, with arrangements as gloppy as sun-drenched pralines.

To some, this is not a good thing. But to fans of Taylor's always lustrous voice and the glitzy R&B balladry he exemplifies, this anthology will be appealing. Eddie Hinton, Jimmy Johnson, James Jamerson and the Memphis Horns are among the genre stalwarts who play on the selections. Even Taylor loyalists may gag at the gummy backup singing and synthesized thunder on "Stormy Weather."

But the infectious "Please Don't Stop the Music," a surprisingly winning "Never My Love" (that's right -- the Association's hit), the leering title cut and other bright moments make this a worthy item to have in one's collection. Maybe it's a guilty pleasure for blues hard-liners, but if you're the party-throwing type, buy this, and believe me, you'll put it to use.

-- Tim Schuller

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Boulder, CO, USA.