Like many of the groups from soul’s lower divisions, Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon’s history is involved and complicated. The only thing that is absolutely clear is that in the late 60s/early 70s different variants of the group (with Florida-born Johnny as a constant) enjoyed a decent run of hits in the UK – though, oddly, they remained largely unknown back in the States. The song that provided the outfit’s big break through was 1968’s ‘Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache’, on the dear old bright yellow Direction label… and it’s easy to hear why it was a hit. Crafted by studio maestros Sandy Linzer and Denny Rendell, the tune was a lovely, up-tempo Motown pastiche – perfect for both the UK’s underground soul scene and the more mainstream Saturday night Palais crowd. ‘Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache’ peaked at number 4 and though further releases never quite achieved such heady heights the group enjoyed steady success with releases like ‘You’, a cover of the Four Seasons’ ‘Let’s Hang On’ and – with a subtle re-branding – the poppier ‘Sweet Inspiration’ and ‘Blame It On The Pony Express’. All those tunes and a lot more besides are on this 24 track retrospective and it all makes for an enjoyable trip down soul’s memory lane. ‘Heartache’ still sounds good as too does the band’s first proper single ‘Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music’ while versions of ‘Stoned Soul Picnic’ and ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ are very decent. Less soulfully memorable are the songs Johnson recorded in the UK – including the aforementioned ‘Blame It On The Pony Express’ and heaven only knows what Bob Dylan made of the group’s version of his ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’! Still it was part of the enigmatic Johnny Johnson’s repertoire and deserves inclusion here. Though it’s unconfirmed, it’s believed that Johnson died in 1979, but I’m sure he would have approved of this belated collection which, hopefully, will allow some reassessment of his soul status.