I always thought that Johnnie Taylor made his music for the fellas. Now, there are some male vocalists who geared their stuff to the ladies. Guys might have liked Teddy Pendergrass and Gerald Levert. However, both of those artists made a nice living doing “ladies only” shows for a reason. Taylor, with his aggressive and muscular vocals, was all about the testosterone. And he could play it from every angle. Johnnie Taylor could be in the club encouraging his “Disco Lady” to move it in and move it out, or he was just as capable of being that guy telling his woman that “I believe in you.” Taylor could slip into the persona of Jody and sneak into the back door to snatch that hard working man’s girl.
If that hard working man decided that it might be time to make a change, Taylor could slap on the green eyeshades, do a few calculations and tell the dude that it just might be “Cheaper to Keep Her.” Taylor also had a warning for those cheating men who just could not conceive that their wives might say “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” That song, “Who’s Making Love,” reached Billboard’s top 5 on the pop and R&B charts in 1968.
So it’s quite interesting to hear Taylor’s daughter, Tasha Taylor, cover “Who’s Making Love” on her new CD, the mostly solid Taylormade. Tasha Taylor sings it pretty straight. The song retains its power packed Stax horn section as well as that ultra funky Hammond organ and bass playing. Taylor’s assertive vocals makes it clear that a woman can sing “Who’s Making Love.” In fact, question behind the song’s premise packs a little extra punch when performed from the female perspective.
Still, Tasha Taylor did not set out to make a record that merely copies her father, and Taylormade does have its own distinct voice. That voice is most assertively female. The songs on Taylormade cover a woman’s desires, frustrations and observations. They do so most interestingly in the first two-thirds of the disc. Here, Tasha Taylor takes her listeners through the Janis Joplin-styled blues-rock tune “Somebody.” On this cut, Taylor lays down what she’s looking for in a man and her wish to meet somebody fitting that bill sooner rather than later. The gospel tinged anthem “I Got Love” is a rousing reminder to remember that the glass is always half-full. “Queen” is a radio-ready soul jam on which the singer lavishes praise on her man for treating her like royalty. The best of a very strong first 10 tracks is “Wonder Woman,” a funky number in which Taylor considers the strengths and limitations of being Miss Do It All.
Taylormade kind of bogs down for the last third. The holiday song “Merry Christmas Baby” doesn’t contain that signature hook that will make it a memorable Christmas track. Songs such as “Best Friend” are nice and inspirational. However, they just don’t contain the kick of the jams that came earlier. Still, material contained in the first two-thirds of Taylormade is so strong that it’s clear that the apple didn’t fall to far from the tree both in terms Tasha Taylor’s chosen career and the quality of the work that she produces. Daddy would be proud. Recommended
By Howard Dukes