Aged just 65, AL JOHNSON died last October. The ex-Unifics vocalist is, of course, best remembered for his wonderful ‘Back For More’. But Big Al was also an in-demand session musician and producer and for many years he worked with US Gospel big hitter, Derrick Pearson, writing with him and cutting demos of their material.

A month or two back, Pearson’s I Am Music label issued a CD of some of the pair’s Gospel collaborations (see our news archive for details) and now a secular album that the duo worked on has become available.

‘Him Or Me’ is a sweet little ten tracker that proves once more that Al Johnson was a classy act. OK, the material is well over 20 years old and there’s a lot of typical 80s up-tempo grooves in here… you know, thrashing programmed drums and synths a go-go! But go to the slower material and you’ll discover some classy, smooth soul. Amongst the goodies is the dramatic ‘Style (I Like Yours Too). It’s a lovely thing… the kind of sophisticated tune that Will Downing made a career out of.

The set’s title cut and ‘It’s Been Too Long’ are worth checking too. Lazy and jazzy, they’re built round catchy hooks and serve as wonderful testament to Al Johnson.

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