Saturday, October 8, 2016

"Taxi" by J. Blackfoot

Song#:  1812
Date:  03/03/1984
Debut:  95
Peak:  90
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B, Quiet Storm

Pop Bits:  While serving time for auto theft, John Colbert was inspired by another prisoner who had formed a vocal group. Upon his release, Colbert decided to follow the music path and eventually he was selected by Stax Records' Dave Porter and Isaac Hayes to join a new group called The Soul Children. The vocal quartet began charting at R&B in 1968 and over time placed three singles in the Top 10. Those same three songs also found their way on the Pop chart with 1973's "I'll Be the Other Woman" doing the best at #36. After the group split in 1979, Colbert played with several bands around Memphis before striking out on his own. Signing with the Sound Town label, Colbert recorded his debut album City Slicker under his new moniker J. Blackfoot (his nickname was Blackfoot due to him walking around town barefoot). This first single was lifted from the LP and it became a hit at R&B reaching #4. It did well enough to catch some Pop action and it made a brief appearance near the bottom of the chart. Blackfoot would grab seven more chart entries at R&B, but none would get close to the peak of "Taxi." He would continue recording and performing over the years and even restarted The Soul Children in 2007. Blackfoot would pass away from pancreatic cancer in 2011.

ReduxReview:  This is some real ol' school soul. I'm surprised that it was a hit as it just didn't seem in-step with the times. However, I'm glad it was able to scale the R&B charts as it is a good song. Blackfoot is not a strong vocalist, but he does a great job selling the tune. I wasn't sure what I was in for when it opened with street sounds and a little monologue from Blackfoot, but everything settled in just fine when the song got started. It's a solid throwback gem that luckily found an audience in the 80s.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1)  Blackfoot's solo career began thanks to a connection he had from his Soul Children days. Homer Banks had written and produced songs for the vocal group including their biggest hit, the R&B #3 "I'll Be the Other Woman." Banks and Chuck Brooks had written "Taxi" specifically for R&B star Johnnie Taylor. However, it was taking too long to get Taylor to record the song so Banks decided to get another artist to sing it. That is when Banks called Blackfoot into the studio to record the tune. It became a hit and put Blackfoot on the path to a successful solo career.  2) Blackfoot almost fronted another famous R&B band. The Bar-Kays started their career off with an R&B Top 10 in 1967 titled "Soul Finger." They were a hot band and it seemed they would be highly successful. Unfortunately, while on tour four members were killed in the plane crash that also took the life of legendary singer Otis Redding. Only one member survived while another member was not on the plane. The pair decided to rebuild the band and initially Blackfoot was selected to be the lead singer. But then Porter and Hayes came calling and Blackfoot went on to The Soul Children.


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