Jimmy Johnson – Every Day Of Your Life
Delmark – 2020
9 tracks; 45 minutes
Chicago stalwart Jimmy Johnson has been playing the blues since the 1970s, having previously performed in the soul field, accompanying the likes of Otis Clay and Denise LaSalle. His first blues release was in the late 70’s and since then he has released albums on several labels, including Delmark to whom he has returned for this release.
Jimmy wrote five new songs for the album and covers four classics on an album recorded in just three days, using two different bands of Chicago aces: the first band is Rico McFarland on rhythm guitar, Roosevelt Purifoy on keys, J.R. Fuller on bass, Pooky Styx on drums, plus Typhanie Monique on backing vocals on one track; the second band is Brother John Kattke on keys, Curt Bley on bass, Ernie Adams on drums and Julia Miller and Elbio Barilari (Delmark’s co-owners) on B/Vs on one track. Jimmy sings and handles lead guitar throughout, apart from the final track which is Jimmy solo on vocal and piano. Jimmy has always had a light voice and this has stood him in good stead as his vocal powers have not waned at all – nor have his guitar skills!
The title track is a gently funky track with good vocal harmonies by Typhanie Monique, a recommendation from Jimmy on how to live: “Live every day like it’s your last; go out every night, have yourself a ball – ain’t nowhere to run when your name is called”. Wise words indeed! Relationships feature on “My Ring” which has a touch of reggae behind a bitter-sweet tale of how the rosy future he expected turned grey after he proposed and “Rattlesnake” is that classic tale of the “friend messing with my wife”. “Down In The Valley” rolls along with strong gospel tones and “Better When It’s Wet” is an instrumental with bubbling organ by Brother John and a really catchy tune. Jimmy’s lead guitar work throughout is excellent.
The four covers are well selected and feature some strong performances. BB King’s ‘I Need You So Bad’ has wonderful piano by Roosevelt and Jimmy makes his guitar sing in BB style. Fenton Robinson’s ‘Somebody Loan Me A Dime’ has been covered many times (not least by Boz Scaggs featuring a young Duane Allman) and is always enjoyable to hear; Jimmy wrings the emotion out of the vocal lines but also plays exquisitely here. Percy Mayfield’s ‘Strange Things Happening’ is the slow blues here with plenty of space for Jimmy’s guitar and Roosevelt’s piano. Perhaps the best is saved for last with Jimmy sat alone at the piano for a moving version of ‘Lead Me On’, best known from Bobby Bland’s version.
Having seen Jimmy live at the Blues Blast Awards in 2018 (when he was given a Lifetime Achievement award) and at his regular Sunday session at Lagunitas Brewery in Chicago I know that he still performs brilliantly. This album would come highly recommended whoever had recorded it, it’s that good. The fact that Jimmy has recorded a disc like this at 91 years young is staggering – and in just three sessions too. This superb album should be on every blues fan’s shopping list and will be on many ‘Best Of’ lists at the end of the year.