Syl Johnson: Talkin’ Bout Chicago!

A phenomenal singer with sanctified pipes, Syl Johnson also stings with white hot guitar licks on Talkin’ Bout Chicago! (Delmark DE-729; 61:39), his followup to last year’s comeback album, Back in the Game. Johnson grooves mightily on shuffles like “Come On With It,” “Woo-Wee!,” the risque “Finger Lickin’ Good,” the humorous “Surrounded” and the vibrant title track, a tribute to the late Junior Wells which also features Johnson’s downhome Deltafied blues harp work. He gets all the way funky on a Meters-ish “Sweet Dynamite!” and croons soulfully on “Cheryl.” And for a complete change of pace there’s the Islands-flavored ditty “Caribbean Beach.” Other highlights include a remake of his early ’70s hit “Diff’rent Strokes,” the moving ballad “A Different Kind of Man” and an urgent “All Night Long,” his personal tribute to the king of the West Side, Magic Sam. Another powerhouse effort.