HOWARD JOHNSON: ‘Doin’ It My Way’ (PTG/Vinyl Masterpiece)

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For aficionados of The System’s distinctive and influential electro-soul sound, then this 1983 album by the former Nite Flyte front man Howard Johnson is a must-have. The Miami singer scored a big Stateside hit with the Kashif-helmed ‘So Fine’ in 1982 on A&M and for his follow-up long player a year later he enlisted the services of writers/producers Mick Murphy and David Frank (aka The System). A pioneering duo, Frank and Murphy had gained notoriety with their 1982 single ‘You Are in My System,’ which boasted a techno-funk sound characterised by futuristic-sounding synthesizers, sequencers and tight, robotic, drum machine grooves. Of course, to soul music purists, The System’s technologically-driven sound was anathema but for others with more adventurous ears, they represented a new and exciting development in R&B music. Though ‘Doin’ It My Way’ possesses all The System’s sonic trademarks it’s less dark and moody than Murphy and Frank’s own work – that’s mainly due to Johnson’s bright, joyous, soulful vocals, which are juxtaposed dramatically with Murphy and Frank’s finely-calibrated, precision-made machine-tooled grooves. The up-tempo ‘Let’s Take Time Out’ with its febrile synth rhythms was the set’s big hit and still stands up well today, as does the moodier ‘Let This Dream Be Real’ – the extended and superior 12-inch mix is also included as a bonus cut. Also check out the wonderful ‘Much Too Much,’ with its infectious, slickly harmonized chorus and jittery bass line. Johnson’s third A&M album, ‘The Vision,’ is also reissued on PTG.