Saturday Night Music, August 10, 2013: Jesse Johnson Revue, Featuring Sly Stone, “Crazay,”
I have been trying to find this video forever, but I found it by accident while doing some work on a portfolio blog that I set up earlier this week. Before then, I knew that the video starred Sly Stone back in the day, but without the Family Stone. At the time I saw it while channel surfing one night during the mid-Eighties on MTV, I thought that it was a prelude to a comeback by the near-iconic singer-composer-songwriter. It wasn’t but ohhhh, what might have been. It might have been the second coming of funk, soul and rock. The back-up singers are down, and so are the dance moves. Even the Soul Train dancers got into the groove.
Seems as if Sly surfaced long enough to get a payday and then receded back into his shadowy existence.
And then again, Jesse Johnson sounded and looked like a ripoff of Prince, Morris Day and The Time, or any of that Minneapolis clique that Purple Rain tried to show that had surrounded Prince. On closer investigation, Johnson wasn’t a ripoff. He was an original—the original guitarist for The Time. Johnson split off from The Time to form his own group and to put out his own records, one of which was Shockedelica in 1986. “Crazay” is the second cut from this album.
Altogether, Johnson has released five albums over the years, including the most recent, Verbal Penetration, Parts I and II, in 2009, after a 14-year silence. He still performs as a sideman for other groups, and as a session guitarist, and it is said that he participated as lead guitarist during the PBS‘ special, In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues. However, being a guitarist is no longer his day job. HIs profession is always subject to changing tastes, and even more so now than it was two decades ago. Even MTV does not exist any more in its previous form. It seems to me that Johnson is much more successful as a single act, when he was allowed to show his stuff, rather than gathering a disparate group of musicians and dancers, and having to be responsible as a bandleader. Jesse Johnson is 53. His website is here.
- Prince And The Computer Revolution (theawl.com)