Sunday, December 10, 2017

“Love Struck” by Jesse Johnson

Guitar wizard Jesse Johnson lays down some wicked funk on his 1988 hit “Love Struck.” The talented musician/songwriter/producer crafted a high-powered dance groove for this cut, which boasts an explosive beat and a booty-shaking bassline. The track also features some tight synth horn parts, and Johnson brings some of his fretboard magic to the mix with a ferocious guitar solo. This dynamic funk track displays Johnson’s considerable gifts as a musician, songwriter, arranger and producer.

“Love Struck” was a single from Johnson’s third studio album, Every Shade of Love, released in 1988.  The track climbed to #4 on the U.S R&B Billboard singles chart and peaked at #13 on the U.S. Billboard Dance Club chart. The song was written, arranged and produced by Johnson, as were all the tracks on the Every Shade of Love album.

Johnson first came into prominence on the national music scene as the lead guitarist and primary songwriter for the legendary Prince-formed funk band the Time. Johnson co-wrote the band’s big hits, “Jungle Love” and “The Bird.”  In 1984, he decided to strike out on his own to pursue a career as a solo artist. The Time was at the height of its popularity during this period due to the band's appearance in Prince’s blockbuster film Purple Rain. Johnson signed a solo deal with A&M Records that year.

The guitarist released three strong albums on the A&M label: Jesse Johnson’s Revue (1985), Shockadelica (1986) and Every Shade of Love (1988). He wrote, produced and arranged all three albums. Johnson only released one solo album in the ‘90s, Bare My Naked Soul (1996), and dropped his last solo album, Verbal Penetration, in 2009.

In addition to his own material, he has produced music for a variety of notable artists, including Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Cheryl Lynn and Debbie Allen. He has also worked with groundbreaking music legends Sly Stone and Stevie Wonder. Additionally, Johnson has contributed material to film soundtracks, including the 1996 crime drama A Time to Kill.

In 1990, he briefly reunited with the Time for the album Pandemonium—which he contributed his production, songwriting and guitar skills. He also worked with the band for the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack that year.

Johnson again reunited with all the original Time members for a live reunion performance at the 50th Grammy Awards, which aired on February 10, 2008. And he and the band performed a series of shows at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas that year. Johnson continued to work with the Time (which later changed its name to The Original 7ven) in the ensuing years until finally leaving the band for good in late 2011 and joining up with D’Angelo’s band, the Vanguard. He played on D’Angelo’s critically acclaimed album, Black Messiah (2014), which won a Grammy for Best R&B Album.

Another high point of Johnson’s career was when he performed at the White House as part of an all-star blues band for the PBS special “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues.” The concert took place on February 21, 2012. In addition to Johnson, some of the other performers included B.B. King, Fred Wesley, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty and Gary Clarke, Jr. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were in attendance for this celebration of blues music, which was held in recognition of Black History Month.

Johnson will be part of D’Angelo’s European tour, which will kick off at London’s Eventim Apollo on March 6, 2018. The tour will also include stops in France, Germany, Sweden and Norway. In addition to Johnson, the other Vanguard members scheduled for this upcoming tour are Bobby Ray Sparks (keyboards), Rocco Palladino (bass), Isaiah Sharkey (guitar), Chris “Daddy” Day (drums) and Red Middleton and Jermaine Holmes (vocals). Visit D'Angelo & the Vanguard's website for more tour info and dates.

Related blog entry:"Crazay" by Jesse Johnson featuring Sly Stone