Saturday, 10 June 2017

Pop/Power Pop/Country/Doo- Wop ??? Mark Johnson - Mark Johnson & The Wild Alligators 2005 mp3@320




WHY I JOINED A CULT LISTENING TO MARK JOHNSON
 by Vincent Collazo
IN 1978 LYNN SAMUELS had a free-form radio show on WBAI called “Part of the Act”—between discursive monologues and lively discourse with her audience she played music, and the most-featured artist was an extraordinary talent named Mark Johnson.
It doesn’t take much to fall in love with his music—ethereal and familiar, Mark Johnson sings from and of the human heart: his lyrics describe love’s extensive permutations, with music to match these rich emotions. The music I heard on Lynn Samuels’ show was not available in record stores—at the time Mark Johnson had one album, Years, released in 1972 on Vanguard, that was out of print. I kinda freaked out, but recorded on cassette from the radio, eventually compiling about thirty minutes of his music.
When I went to see him in concert I found a wild man, a performer who sang each song as if his life depended on it. The experience of hearing Mark Johnson at Folk City, standing less than ten feet from me, in black pants, white shirt, tight cowboy boots, crying/screaming/spitting out the words to his song “Noreen,” gives me chills a quarter century later.
After the show I asked him if he had any plans to make another record and he mumbled something about working on some tapes, but he didn’t sound particularly serious, and I was furious with him for depriving the world (and me, mostly me) of his music. He clearly had lots of songs, and while I used a little Panasonic walkman to tape his live shows on the sly, the clinking of drinks and bar chatter ruined the listening experience.
Lynn Samuels left WBAI, Folk City closed, and ultimately Mark Johnson stopped performing at The Other End, Kenny’s Castaways, and the Speakeasy. I lost track of him and was left with my half hour cassette, which began to deteriorate from overuse. I dubbed copies to play and kept the original as my “master tape.” Grateful to have these few gems, I despaired of ever getting more.
Mark Johnson resurfaced in 1992 with a CD, 12 in a Room, on his own label, Tabula Rasa Records. This is Mark at his best—in the “studio” (a small apartment above the Cornelia Street Café) with himself at virtually all the instruments and vocals—mixing and matching, using the musical genius RCA Records recognized when they offered him a contract as an artist and producer at age 20, when he walked in off the street with a homemade demo. (Years, the album from this time period, is a classic which holds up amazingly well some thirty-five years later—it is mind-boggling that this sophisticated music came from someone barely out of his teens).
12 in a Room is brilliant, containing songs I already loved and others I soon would. “Cold Weather” is the down-and-out-in-the-Village masterpiece after which Mark’s music publishing company is named; “Desperate” is a musical exegesis of the heart-wrenching experience of trying to regain a relationship lost to petty misunderstanding. The album also includes “Larry Stein,” a reworking from the RCA demo. Yes, Dave Edmunds recorded “King of Love,” and the Roches covered “Love Radiates Around,” but no one sings these songs like Mark. Naturally, one must hear this music to appreciate it, but I’d describe it as the work of a folk-rock singer-songwriter pop music troubadour, with melodies as gorgeous as his words.
After the spurt of activity that came with 12 in a Room, I once again lost touch with Mark and his music. Another decade passed before I came upon him in cyberspace through his website http://www.mark-johnson.com, where I discovered he had a new album, Last Night on the Roller Coaster. Is it better than 12 in a Room? Maybe, but mostly I’d say it’s different. 12 in a Room is a bunch of hits nicely strung together whereas Last Night feels more like a themed album, one song flowing into the next with musical logic. On this CD one can hear the many musical styles Johnson effortlessly embraces: to my ears “Suddenly Sunshine” evokes George Harrison, portions of “So Wonderful” are reminiscent of 50’s doo-wop, in “Coney Island Night” I hear shades of Billy Joel at his best, but all of the songs, whatever tradition/influence/homage they may suggest, have the distinct stamp of Mark Johnson. Throughout this musical journey Johnson’s voice changes with each song—he’s as comfortable with a sweet ballad as with a hard-rocking tune, and everything in between.

Johnson has since released Mark Johnson and the Wild Alligators, which documents the collaboration with his rock band in the early eighties, when I was hearing him live on a semi-regular basis. The immediacy of the performances on this CD gives it the feel of a live recording, with the sound quality of a studio album. I was surprised to find that a few of the songs such as “Precious Love,” “Bad Love” and “Six Nine One,” were actually by Mark Johnson—I was sure they were covers of top-forty radio hits until I checked the credits. These songs weren’t on my “bootlegged” cassette, but were so engrained in my memory that I could easily sing along with them some twenty years later.
Johnson is currently working on a new CD, which must be a daunting task since he’s set the bar so high with his previous releases—there are no “throwaways” in any of his four major albums; even songs which might sound “lite” at first, gain depth upon repeated listens.
Recently Johnson has supplemented his oeuvre with songs for companion CD’s for the Disney movies Finding Nemo and Cars. His songs continue to be recorded by other artists—if he’s the best-kept secret in pop, he’s well known within the industry. Mark Johnson’s success, while substantial, has never matched his talent; he awaits “discovery” by a larger audience—meanwhile he has attained cult status, and I, for one, happily, giddily, ineluctably joined the cult.


This is one of the rare articles i found about Marc Johnson. This is also the only album i know by M.J.
Give it a try, this album souinds real interesting. Here are a lot of musical influences and this guy sounds real.
Cheers
           Frank           mp3@320  


8 comments:

  1. Hi men you have the best blog all around the world! Really you're the best!! Could you please reupload the cOWSILLS Global album???? Thanks a lot and chhers from Roma

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    Replies
    1. Hello Anonymous, the new link come in a few minutes.
      Frank

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  2. Yes, will do it tomorrow. :-)
    Kind regards
    Frank

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  3. Hello! Big thanks for all your great uploads!! here is Mark johnsons - 12 in a room and also the cd that was with John boracks shake some action book, where Mark Johnson contributes with one great song!There is a wonderful comment on amazon from an technician who worked with MJ on the 12 in a room album and didn´t find him all to easy to work with.... " 12 in a room? well maybe better than 2 in a room.......!" http://www84.zippyshare.com/v/Ms1h5DVX/file.html
    http://www84.zippyshare.com/v/GpiMp6ro/file.html

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    Replies
    1. Dear Coolruler, thanks for your contribution. Much appreciated. I will post it on the the blog in a few hours. I think more people will get attention of your files in this way. I hope that's in the same effect you want.
      Kind regards
      Frank

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  4. Thank you so much!! nice to be able to contribute with something!Think Mark Johnson is a true star in power pop!

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  5. Very good points you wrote here..Great stuff...I think you've made some truly interesting points.Keep up the good work.
    Most Featured Rap Artist

    ReplyDelete