Soul Strut 100: # 9 - Syl Johnson - Is It Because I???m Black?

RAJRAJ tenacious local 7,499 Posts
edited August 2013 in The Soul Strut 100
I will slowly be unveiling the Top 100 Soul Strut Related Records as Voted by the Strutters Themselves.

# 9 - Syl Johnson - Is It Because I'm Black?



The list so far:

# 100 - Jr. and His Soulettes - Psychodelic Sounds
# 99 - Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul
# 98 - Donny Hathaway - S/T (1971)
# 97 - Bernard Wright - ???Nard
# 96 - Tom Scott - Honeysuckle Breeze
# 95 - People Under the Stairs - Question in the Form of an Answer
# 94 - Harlem River Drive
# 93 - Black Moon - Enta Da Stage
# 92 - Marvin Gaye - Here, My Dear
# 91 - Muddy Waters - Electric Mud
# 90 - Les McCann - Layers
# 89 - Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland
# 88 - Leroy Hutson - Hutson (1975)
# 87 - ESG - S/T (1981)
# 86 - Can - Tago Mago
# 85 - Bohannon - Stop & Go
# 84 - WILLIAM DEVAUGHN - Be Thankful For What You Got
# 83 - Power of Zeus - The Gospel According to Zeus
# 82 - Gang Starr - Hard To Earn
# 81 - The J.B.???s - Doing It to Death
# 80 - Parliament - Osmium
# 79 - McNeal & Niles - Thrust
# 78 - The Lafayette Afro Rock Band - Malik
# 77 - Earth, Wind, and Fire (1971)
# 76 - Dr. Dre - The Chronic
# 75 - Black Sabbath (1970)
# 74 - Trap Door / An International Psychedelic Mystery Mix (2006)
# 73 - Bob James - One
# 72 - Matthew Larkin Cassell - Pieces
# 71 - The Beginning Of The End - Funky Nassau
# 70 - Big Bear - Doin??? Thangs
# 69 - Steely Dan - Aja
# 68 - Quasimoto - The Unseen
# 67 - Curtis Mayfield - Curtis/Live! (1971)
# 66 - Al Green - Im still in love with you
# 65 - The Beatnuts - Street Level
# 64 - Archie Whitewater - Archie Whitewater (1970)
# 63 - Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - Mecca & the Soul Brother
# 62 - Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die
# 61 - The J.B.???s - Food For Thought
# 60 - Don Blackman (1982)
# 59 - Niagara - (Tiddies)
# 58 - Can - Ege Bamyasi
# 57 - Whatnauts - On the Rocks
# 56 - The Mohawks - Champ
# 55 - McDonald and Giles (1971)
# 54 - Darondo - Let My People Go
# 53 - Dorothy Ashby - Afro Harping
# 52 - Beastie Boys - Paul???s Boutique
# 51 - Mulatu Astatke - Mulatu of Ethiopia
# 50 - Lyman Woodard Organization - Saturday Night Special
# 49 - Isaac Hayes - Hot Buttered Soul
# 48 - Lyn Collins - Think (About It)
# 47 - James Brown - In The Jungle Groove
# 46 - Bill Withers - Still Bill
# 45 - Stevie Wonder - Innervisions
# 44 - Silver Apples - S/T
# 43 - Mobb Deep - The Infamous
# 42 - Lyn Christopher (1973)
# 41 - Serge Gainsbourg - Histoire de Melody Nelson
# 40 - Gang Starr - Step in the Arena
# 39 - Diamond D - Stunts, Blunts, & Hip Hop
# 38 - Terry Callier - What Color is Love
# 37 - David Axelrod - Song of Innocence
# 36 - The Invaders - Spacing Out
# 35 - Leo Sayer - Endless Flight
# 34 - Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
# 33 - DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist - Brainfreeze (Mix)
# 32 - Michael Jackson - Thriller
# 31 - DJ Shadow - Endtroducing
# 30 - De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising
# 29 - Ray Barretto - Acid
# 28 - The Sylvers - II
# 27 - Donald Byrd - Places and Spaces
# 26 - Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information
# 25 - Nas - Illmatic
# 24 - The Baby Huey Story - The Living Legend
# 23 - Roy Ayers - He???s Coming
# 22 - Kool and the Gang (album) (1969)
# 21 - Demon Fuzz - Afreaka!
# 20 - Curtis Mayfield - Curtis!
#19 - Eugene McDaniels - Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse
# 18 - Incredible Bongo Band - Bongo Rock
# 17 - Placebo - Ball of Eyes
# 16 - Arthur Verocai - Arthur Verocai (1972)
# 15 - A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory
# 14 - S.O.U.L. - What Is It
# 13 - Funkadelic - Maggot Brain
# 12 - Boscoe
# 11 - RAMP - Come Into Knowledge
# 10 - Bob James - 2 (Mardi Gras with or without the Bells)

Please discuss your reactions to this record. The thread will be archived later here.

About

Syl Johnson's first album, Dresses Too Short, was fairly innocuous good-time soul, but he'd obviously been doing some thinking about the world around him in the interim between that and his second release. Is It Because I'm Black is characterized by socially conscious songwriting, especially in the seven-and-a-half-minute title track, an elongated, serious statement of black pride with a sad funk-blues groove. It wouldn't be fair to call Johnson a bandwagon jumper; this was before Sly Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On had made realistic ghetto songs chic, and it was a fairly gutsy move for a minor soul singer such as Syl to put such material at the forefront. While nothing else here matches that lost mini-classic, there are some good cuts along similar lines in which Johnson pleads for tolerance and justice, including covers of jazzman Oscar Brown's "Black Balloons,"Joe South's "Walk a Mile in My Shoes," and, less successfully, the Beatles' "Come Together."

http://www.allmusic.com/album/is-it-because-im-black-mw0000962056

Related Threads

Syl Johnson - Live Footage / Photos / Interview???. very entertaining, funny, and DOPE!

SYL JOHNSON / THE NUMERO GROUP

SYL JOHNSON DONE WENT SUE-HAPPY

syl johnson question

Media





  Comments


  • leonleon 883 Posts
    The title track is fenomenal, but this album is not a one tracker; the whole album is good. Love it!

    In need of an OG.

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,113 Posts
    The title track is phenomenal [...]

    In need of an OG.

    I spin the BGP 45 with Is It Because... b/w Different Strokes. Lovely, but surprised to see this LP at #9.

  • RishanRishan 441 Posts
    yes, surprised this is top 10, but a great record and very tough find. happy with my reish

  • toby.dtoby.d 254 Posts
    Gotta be happy with my reissue too. Concrete Reservation is my jam on this one.

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,517 Posts
    Had it, loved it.

  • DJ_EnkiDJ_Enki 6,471 Posts
    Still in need of an OG of this--the first time I heard it, it really blew me away on some "this is the dude who did 'Different Strokes'?" shit.

    b/w

    So what's the story on that "Is It Because I'm Black?" instrumental 45? That one's in my "in case of emergency, rescue these records" box for sure, but I know fuck-all about it.

  • RAJRAJ tenacious local 7,499 Posts
    Got an OG from Dave Baghat Vjnyl years ago. Pry from my dead hands related.

  • NabozoNabozo 48 Posts
    this one is seriously amazing

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,113 Posts
    DJ_Enki said:
    So what's the story on that "Is It Because I'm Black?" instrumental 45? That one's in my "in case of emergency, rescue these records" box for sure, but I know fuck-all about it.

    Saw Nick Cope playing that at a London-meet many years ago and we speculated about whether it was recorded first as an instrumental independent of Syl and then he added vocals after, or if they decided to release the backing track under a different band name afterwards.

    Would like this more than the LP actually!

  • Duderonomy said:
    DJ_Enki said:
    So what's the story on that "Is It Because I'm Black?" instrumental 45? That one's in my "in case of emergency, rescue these records" box for sure, but I know fuck-all about it.

    Saw Nick Cope playing that at a London-meet many years ago and we speculated about whether it was recorded first as an instrumental independent of Syl and then he added vocals after, or if they decided to release the backing track under a different band name afterwards.

    My old roommate had the instrumental 45, but later lost it when his entire UHAUL was stolen. Whole collection gone. They caught the person trying to sell them at Amoeba, but unfortunately that one never came back.

    You can hear the vocals bleed through. They are barely there, but you can hear ghostly traces of them.

    Would like this more than the LP actually!

  • discos_almadiscos_alma discos_alma 2,164 Posts
    Duderonomy said:
    DJ_Enki said:
    So what's the story on that "Is It Because I'm Black?" instrumental 45? That one's in my "in case of emergency, rescue these records" box for sure, but I know fuck-all about it.

    Saw Nick Cope playing that at a London-meet many years ago and we speculated about whether it was recorded first as an instrumental independent of Syl and then he added vocals after, or if they decided to release the backing track under a different band name afterwards.

    Would like this more than the LP actually!

    It came out after the vocal track, you can tell since it was on the (later) sunset Twinight label. Definitely a deep soul instrumental of the highest order!

  • Pistol_PetePistol_Pete 1,289 Posts
    I'm not surprised this is in the top 10. One of my favorites of all time.

  • pcmrpcmr 5,591 Posts
    i got the instrumental 45 from phill most and it starts off with a strange narration
    love this album..kind of a dirtier whats going on

  • tabiratabira 856 Posts
    This is and the title track. Amazingly courageous LP. Pity he didn't stay in this direction


  • is it because most of us aren't?

  • tabiratabira 856 Posts
    vintageinfants said:
    is it because most of us aren't?
    If by "us" you mean strutters, or just people in general today, then it isn't my place to judge. If you mean musicians today then yeah I have the fogeyish impression that there was more risk taking 43 years ago when this was made.

  • tabira said:
    vintageinfants said:
    is it because most of us aren't?
    If by "us" you mean strutters, or just people in general today, then it isn't my place to judge. If you mean musicians today then yeah I have the fogeyish impression that there was more risk taking 43 years ago when this was made.

    my question was directed at 'us' as in soulstrut, but your follow up points are not unfounded.

  • LoopDreamsLoopDreams 1,193 Posts
    So glad to see this in the ^10. Quintessential deep indie soul LP with great lyrics and an awesome rhythm section. It's like seeing Mike Kirkland up in here: it makes me smile. Pry my vg copy from my cold dead hands indeed!

  • yuichiyuichi Urban sprawl 11,318 Posts
    tabira said:
    This is and the title track. Amazingly courageous LP. Pity he didn't stay in this direction


    Ashamed to hear this for the first time. Damn that song was amazing.....

  • holmesholmes 3,532 Posts
    totally love this amazing LP

  • Saw the reissue today at the record store but passed .... Now I'm gonna go back and pick it up. I'm always wary of the reissues. I have a handful that sound good, but others are crap. The Skull Snaps I picked up last week sounds like it's being played thru a sleeping bag or something.

  • Arkay_East said:
    Saw the reissue today at the record store but passed .... Now I'm gonna go back and pick it up. I'm always wary of the reissues. I have a handful that sound good, but others are crap. The Skull Snaps I picked up last week sounds like it's being played thru a sleeping bag or something.

    If it's the Numero Group re then it sounds great.

    There's also a dodgy boot one from some years before.

  • Horseleech said:
    Arkay_East said:
    Saw the reissue today at the record store but passed .... Now I'm gonna go back and pick it up. I'm always wary of the reissues. I have a handful that sound good, but others are crap. The Skull Snaps I picked up last week sounds like it's being played thru a sleeping bag or something.

    If it's the Numero Group re then it sounds great.

    There's also a dodgy boot one from some years before.

    Ok thanks I appreciate the heads up
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