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The Best of the Arista Years

General Johnson

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Album Review

Released by the U.K.’s Edsel label in 2011, this compilation has a title that is somewhat misleading. The Best of the Arista Years contains Showmen and Chairmen of the Board leader General Johnson's self-titled 1976 album — co-produced with Rick Chertoff — in its entirety. The remainder of the disc consists of the disco version of one of the album’s A-sides, “Don’t Walk Away,” the B-side “Ready Willing and Able,” the 12” version of the 1977 single “Let’s Fool Around,” and the 12” disco version of another 1977 single, “Can’t Nobody Love Me Like You Do.” While none of it quite matches Johnson’s best moments with Chairmen of the Board, it’s all sturdy, disco-laced mid-‘70s soul, comparable to what the likes of Willie Hutch and Johnny Bristol were releasing at the time. Each one of the A-sides impacted the R&B chart, with the Top 25 “All in the Family” the most successful of all. This is likely the first time any of the material has appeared on compact disc.

Biography

Born: May 23, 1943 in Norfolk, VA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Leader of Chairmen of the Board and a top R&B songwriter/producer as well, General Johnson enjoyed a long career stretching from his debut during the mid-'50s glory days of R&B to his status as a turn-of-the-century beach music icon. Born and raised in the seaside city of Norfolk, VA, Johnson began singing in church with his father at the age of six, and made his recording debut at 12 when his group the Humdingers recorded a few unreleased sides for Atlantic. Several years later, after a...
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Contemporaries