Willie Johnson – “Lay It On Me” – Drive Records (1971)

Willie Johnson

Willie Johnson photo by Garry Cape via Sir Shambling

Willie Johnson – “Lay It On Me” (Drive)
Willie Johnson, sometimes known as Little Willie Johnson, and his works on Henry Stone’s CAT, and Drive record labels, despite limited pressings, no real chart action, and lack of media attention, have transcended the decades to become favorites on the lists of the top DJ’s and collectors in the soul genre. “Lay It On Me” sounds as fresh today as in its 1971 release date.

The Bahamian guitar chop and funky drummer congeal the track, and Johnson’s vocals, which exhibit similar roots and life experience as James Brown, cement it. Like Brown, Johnson is from Georgia; and every note rings of both sanctified soul, and unholy blues. The Caribbean effect of recording with Miami players, engineers, and producers creates a true blue funk. Topics such as love and lust make Johnson relatable universally. If only there were more of his music on wax, Johnson may have been a household name. But as it stands, music fans should be thankful for the gifts he gave the world, grooves that spark harder than Miami sunshine and a rhythm that just won’t quit.

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