Monday, May 10, 2021

"Love Struck" by Jesse Johnson

Song#:  3489
Date:  04/23/1988
Debut:  98
Peak:  78
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  Johnson recorded his first two post-Time LPs with his new band. The second album, 1986's Shockadelica, sold fairly well thanks to the #2 R&B/#53 Pop hit "Crazay," which featured a guest appearance by Sly Stone. For his third effort, Johnson chucked the band and with few exceptions did everything himself - wrote, performed, arranged, produced, etc. The finished product was titled Every Shade of Love and this first single got issued out. It would become Johnson's fifth R&B Top 10 getting to #4. The song then crossed over to the Pop chart, but it couldn't dig out of the bottom quarter of the chart. The title track would then be release and it got to #19 R&B. It failed to make the Pop chart. The results helped sell a few albums, but not as many as his previous two. It stopped at #26 R&B and #79 Pop. After the LP, Johnson kept busy recording songs for soundtracks and producing other artists. He would return to The Time in 1990 for a brief reunion period. He wouldn't record another solo album until 1996.

ReduxReview:  This tune kept Johnson grounded in the Minneapolis sound, but this time around it sounded closer to Jam & Lewis than Prince. It was a well-produced track with a good groove and a hot guitar solo by Johnson. I enjoyed the track, but for some reason it faded from my memory quickly. I think it was running with a pack of similar songs and just didn't have that extra power to break out and take the lead. It was a nice jam from Johnson, but ultimately it wasn't one that was going to break him through to a pop audience.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The backing vocals on this track were done by Sue Ann Carwell. She has pretty much been forgotten, but Carwell has a place in Prince's history. After Prince recorded his 1978 debut album For You, someone recommended that he catch a performance by a sixteen-year-old singer named Sue Ann Carwell. Prince did and he liked what he saw. Even though he had just released his first album, Prince already had expansion ideas and he thought that he could mold Carwell into a star and use his music and productions to do so. He wanted to do demos to take to his label, Warner Bros., and got Sue Ann into his studio. They recorded four songs that were leftover from Prince's writing spree for his debut album. However, Prince's excitement about developing Carwell's career took a left turn when his control over the whole project required Cartwell to change her name to Susie Stone. That idea didn't sit well with the teen and it seems Prince saw right off the bat that the full control he wanted to have was probably not going to materialize and he lost interest in the singer. By that point, Warner may have already heard the demos and decided to sign the teen anyway. She recorded a 1981 debut album under the name Sue Ann. The project was mainly written and produced by Pete Bellotte (noted Donna Summer collaborator) and Sylvester Levay. The LP only managed to produce the #72 R&B single "Let Me Let You Rock Me," so Sue Ann was dropped from the label. Six years later, she got a second chance with MCA Records. This time around she was guided by a former member of the Prince stable of artists, Jesse Johnson. Her second LP, 1988's Blue Velvet, spawned the #54 R&B track "Rock Steady (Part 1)," a remake of Aretha Franklin's 1971 #2 R&B/#9 Pop hit It wasn't a great result, but she got to do a second album for the label (without Johnson this time), 1992's Painkiller, which featured the #46 R&B single "7 Days, 7 Nights." Again, it wasn't enough and she was left off the label. Over the years, it seems she worked as a background vocalist for many artists. Then in 2010 she reunited with Jesse Johnson and recorded the indie LP Blues in My Sunshine. And so goes the story of Prince's first protégé.


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