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From Soul Express 2/2002


FLOYD TAYLOR

Over a year ago we told you that Malaco has signed Floyd Taylor, son of the late Johnnie Taylor, and now finally his impressive debut called Legacy has reached us.

Floyd: "I was born in Chicago, Illinois, January 25th, 1954. I have four brothers and two sisters, and I'm next to the oldest." Floyd also has a family of his own, two boys and two girls, but they're not into music at this point. Of Johnnie's offspring only Floyd and Johnnie Jr. are more seriously involved in business, and Johnnie Jr. recently released his own cd titled Doing My Own Thing on Miss Butch label.

"I idolized Sam Cooke and, as I got older, Eddie Levert of the O'Jays, also Peabo Bryson, but my father was the biggest. I studied my father. I used to sit up there and watch my father work and it was amazing. He was just a regular father, but I was very impressed by his work. I always knew he was a celebrity, but it never went to my head. But that was later. Before that, as a kid, I didn't travel with him. At home my mom kept my life rounded, so I got a chance to go out, play baseball with the other kids and get dirty.

"I started to be serious about music at about the age of fifteen. I got into a talent show one time, cause I had seen my father perform and I said 'looks like he's having fun', and - lo and behold! - I started to have fun, too. Then I started loving it, and the rest is history.

"I was in a group back in 1973. We called it the Peace Band. At that time it was love, peace and rock 'n' roll. We did shows and things, but it was something more or less like a school link for me to get, where I am today. I think we were the first " Kool & the Gang" band, because there were ten of us. And we played their music. We stayed together for like three years.

"After that I started touring with my father. I did that off-and-on for a number of years. I was one of my father's backup singers in the 70s, in the 80s and also in the 90s. When I wasn't doing background for him, I was out in the studio trying to get my things together.

"My dad would always let me come in and work, to get the knowledge what I needed for this business. He never encouraged me to be in this business and he never did discourage me, either. He practically let me make my own decisions, if I want to be in show business or not. He said 'if I'm going to hold your hand, while you're doing it, you're not going to learn anything about this business. If you want to be somebody, you gotta learn the business aspect of it first'.

"In the 80s I went back into the studio and I recorded a bunch of songs that I submitted to some companies. All the companies would turn me down and say 'hey, you sound too much like Johnnie Taylor. We can't use you'. I was like 'hey, wait a minute, Gerald Levert, whose father is Eddie Levert of the O'Jays, sounds more close son-to-father than I sound to mine. He's got a record deal'.

Then my father told me 'you go out and fight this here. If this is what you wanna do, get out there and do it. Deal with the rejections. Find your own sound'.

"Those masters are still in Chicago. They were recorded with real instruments. At this particular point I want to see, how the music is going and see if those masters fit in. After rejections my dad said 'hey, you want a job? Come on out here, I need you to sing background again'."

His masters still waiting for the music getting closer to its roots again, Floyd - after having hooked up with Malaco Records - finally had his debut released. "This is my first baby - not my first album, but my very first baby. I went to my father's funeral, and there me and Malaco actually got connected. They heard me singing at my father's funeral. They asked me, if this was what I wanted to do, and I gave them the look 'are you kidding? Of course, this is what I wanna do and then it gives me the chance to carry on my father's legacy'."

On Legacy Malaco used three production units. Wolf Stephenson produced four tracks and used some real instruments and a big Nashville horn section. The opener, I'm Crazy 'Bout That Woman In Red, is a brisk and infectious mover, written by Rue Davis and Harrison Calloway. "Harrison used to be a horn player for my father's band. Rue Davis I just met. When I heard this song, I wanted to get into it, because I enjoyed the song myself. It tells a story and I'm trying to be a good story-teller. After the Bobby Blands and the Little Miltons and all of those guys there won't be any more story-tellers, nothing but a bunch of rappers."

I'm In Love With The Girl Next Door, a jolly uptempo ditty, is again written by Rue (or Reuben, to be exact) and also first recorded by him on his KonKord album, You Are My Honey Poo.

A dreamy ballad called Fantasy Lady was written and co-produced by Larry Addison. "I Love that song. It's a beautiful song. Larry also did Just Because for my father's album. When he brought me the song, I sat down and listened to it and I said 'hey, I gotta have this song'."

When You Finally Realize, co-written by George Jackson, is a slightly jazzy, late-night slowie. "This song is meant to enjoy, when you're with a very special, significant person."

Charles Richard Cason again has a scarce backing with an occasional guitar and sax thrown in, but this time his machines give a fuller sound than normally. "There's a good thought and a bad thought. The bad thought is that the machines put a lot of cats out of work, and the good one is that it is consistent and it's also cheaper that way. It was a lot of fun working with Charles and the guys. They were very down-to-earth with me. They didn't cut any corners. We got very close. They took very good care of me in the studios, because those guys used to work with my father, so they wanted this project to be very good."

Charles also wrote all of his five songs. A throwaway beater titled Back-Up Lovin' aside, three beat ballads - Old School Style, I Love Being In Love With You and Part-Time Lover (co-written by Zuri) - are all nice and melodic, but his best contribution is Caught Between Two Hearts, a soulful, touching and dramatic infidelity ballad.

Two mellow mid-bouncers - When We Touch and She Ain't Mine - were written and produced by Lawrence Harper. "He is a musician out of Memphis, whose sister used to play keyboards for my father. They knew I was looking for material, and Lawrence sent me the tracks. If you remember a song, I Know It's Wrong But I Just Can't Do Right (the title track to Johnnie's '91 Malaco album -ed.), Lawrence wrote that. When We Touch is the first single off this album. We haven't picked the next one yet.

Floyd's album is one of the most pleasant surprises this year so far, and not only Johnnie Taylor fans, but also all Southern and real soul lovers should give it a listen. "If I could get three good albums under my belt, then I would try to produce myself. I'd also like everybody to know that I'm not trying to emulate my father. It just comes out that way, and in certain phrases."

-Heikki Suosalo

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