Johnnie Taylor’s 1973 Stax album Taylored In Silk has been remastered by Concord Music Group, expanded significantly from eight tracks to 14. Most of the rhythm tracks were laid down at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama. There are no musician credits available. Lush string arrangements were later applied liberally. It all worked on a commercial level, as Taylored In Silk charted well on Billboard’s R&B chart.
The overall effect is a bit blah, in my opinion. I don’t hear a lot of passion in either Taylor’s vocals or the studio players. The arrangements are a bit much, weighing down an already sluggish group of songs. But it bears repeating that audiences were receptive in 1973, as three of these tunes wound up as significant hits. The album opener, “We’re Getting Careless With Our Love,” made the top five on the R&B chart. “I Believe In You (You Believe In Me)” topped the R&B chart, just missing the top ten on the Hot 100. “Cheaper to Keep Her” was a third major hit.
While the album tracks are a bit too smooth for my tastes, the bonus tracks largely make up for it. These half dozen tracks were Stax singles from the same era in Taylor’s career. They aren’t drenched in the syrupy strings that bog down other areas of Taylored In Silk. A couple of them were hits as well, like the grooving “Hijackin’ Love” and “Standing In for Jody.” These tracks are much rawer southern soul, with powerful vocals by Taylor.
For my money, there was quite a bit of better soul music from this era. I don’t mean to disparage the late, underappreciated Johnnie Taylor. This album just happens to come across as overproduced. I recommend this one for the bonus tracks. Bill Dahl’s newly written insightful comments for the CD booklet are a plus to provide some background and context about Taylored In Silk.