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The MGM Collection

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Album Review

Soul man extraordinaire Johnny Bristol led something of a duel career. During Motown's Detroit-era he was a multi-talented fixture, primarily writing with partner Harvey Fuqua. Their more notable collaborations can be heard on Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Your Precious Love" as well as Junior Walker's take of "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," Stevie Wonder's "Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday," Edwin Starr's "Twenty-Five Miles" and David Ruffin's "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)." He is likewise the male voice crooning alongside Diana Ross on her final hit with the Supremes, "Someday We'll Be Together" and the co-lead on Junior Walker's "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)." After Motown relocated from its native Detroit to Los Angeles in the early 1970s, Bristol began producing a variety of acts ranging from R&B staple Jerry Butler to former Electric Flag and Band of Gypsies drummer Buddy Miles and Bay Area vocalist Boz Scaggs. He subsequently had a solo deal with MGM, yielding a pair of criminally underrated efforts. The 21-cut MGM Collection (2004) gathers both Hang On in There Baby (1974) and Feeling the Magic (1975), plus the rare redux of "Hang On in There Baby" from 1980 with Destiny frontman Alton McClain that is otherwise unavailable on compact disc. Bristol's soft and sexy demeanor rivals that of Isaac Hayes or Barry White. The latter is immediately conjured up on the original reading of "Hang On in There Baby," as the light and airy melody, lush score and even prominent interjections from Motown's own Melvin "Wah Wah" Ragin (guitar) are unmistakably similar to the White-directed Love Unlimited Orchestra's "Love's Theme" — a crossover single in December of 1973. Bristol didn't do badly either, taking his platter to an impressive number two on the R&B and eight on the Pop survey. He also pulls out an Ike-like introductory dedication commencing the sensual "Reachin' Out for Your Love." "You & I" carves out a fat funk, while the eerily brooding "I Got Your Number" is just this side of creepy as the voyeuristic lyrics proclaim "I got your number/Know your gonna be there when I call/I got your number, baby/Say you ain't got no choice at all." This flies in the face of the pro-feminist "Woman, Woman" which bookends Bristol's debut LP. Feeling the Magic is another mixture of up-tempo and heartfelt ballads. It didn't fare as well on the charts as Hang On in There Baby, but in many ways is a stronger collection. "Feeling the Magic" adopts a hearty, unceasing Philly soul vibe that drives Bristol's sultry lead — which he recorded to make it sound as if he is doing a duet with himself. "Lusty Lady" is a scathingly candid story backed by an equally nasty, yet interminably catchy beat. Bristol's slow jams "I'm Just a Loser," "All Goodbyes Are Gone" and the languid "Go On and Dream," simply put are among the best the artist had to offer. That might account for his admitted frustration with MGM when they didn't push and achieve a better response for the album. As fate had it, after contributing his memories to the set's liner notes, Bristol passed away on March 21, 2004, before having the chance to see the package come to fruition. May he rest in peace knowing that his legacy has been deservedly restored.

Customer Reviews


Been checking for Johnny Bristol since the day I got my 1st IPOD, the most underrated soul singer/songwriter of the 70's. If you appreciate 70 soul music then you must have this and then search out other albums. This collection is his 1st two solo albums (Hang In There Baby, Feeling the Magic) If you attempted to get these albums they cost a small fortune as imports from all other sources but with ITUNES they are well priced and a MUST MUST MUST have. Enjoy the sweet sounds of Johnny Bristol...and keep the albums coming ITUNES


Born: February 03, 1939 in Morganton, NC

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Though born in Morganton, NC, vocalist, composer, and producer Johnny Bristol began his career in Detroit and was a longtime force at Motown from 1961 to 1973. Bristol teamed with Jackey Beavers doing duets for Gwen Gordy's Tri-Phi label in Detroit during the early '60s. They cut the original version of "Someday We'll Be Together," which was remade by Diana Ross & the Supremes in 1969. Bristol was the session's producer, and also the male voice doing harmony. Bristol was professionally and personally...
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The MGM Collection, Johnny Bristol
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