Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Michael Johnson - The Michael Johnson Album (1978)

“The Michael Johnson Album” by Michael Johnson (1978)

Release Date: 1978
Produced by Steve Gibson and Brent Maher
Chart Positions: #81 (US), #83 (Canada)
Certifications: N/A
Singles: “Bluer Than Blue” (US #12, Canada #6, #1 on US and Canada Adult Contemporary), (New Zealand #24)
“Almost Like Being In Love” (US #32, Canada #40, US Adult Contemporary #4, Canada Adult Contemporary #10)
Sailing Without A Sail (US Adult Contemporary #44)

Michael Johnson, a Colorado born singer, songwriter and guitarist is best known for his 1978 Top Ten hit “Bluer Than Blue.” By that time he had been on the music scene for five years releasing music. “The Michael Johnson Album” was his fourth album, but the first that most people heard.

With producers Steve Gibson and Brent Maher, Johnson created a two-song demo consisting of "Bluer Than Blue" and "Almost Like Being in Love" (first made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1947 and later recorded by Nat King Cole in 1955). EMI America took one listen and wasted no time in signing him, quickly getting The Michael Johnson Album out in 1978. The first single, "Bluer Than Blue", became Johnson's first Top 40 hit, peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the summer of 1978; the song became a chart-topping single on the Adult Contemporary chart. "Almost Like Being in Love" went to No. 91 on the R&B chart while hitting #4 on the AC chart and the #32 on the pop chart.

“Bluer Than Blue,” Johnson’s breakout single was written by Bernice Parks and veteran songwriter Randy Goodrum. Goodrum has written a string of Top 40 hits including “It’s Sad To Belong” by England Dan & John Ford Coley, “You Needed Me” and “Broken Hearted Me” both by Anne Murray, “Before My Heart Finds Out” by Gene Cotton, “Oh Sherrie” by Steve Perry and several others. Michael Johnson recorded a second Goodrum song for his 1979 album “Dialog” called “The Very First Time.”

In 1978, Johnson was quoted as saying, "I knew “Bluer Than Blue” was potentially a successful song but I didn't think it would go this far. It seemed, well, too mature. The experience of being married or living with someone is hard to identify with for younger people.

Michael Johnson (1978)

Johnson’s next single “Almost Like Being In Love” was written by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, a duo that composed the music for several Broadway musicals including “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot.” “Almost Like Being In Love” was written for the musical “Brigadoon.” Johnson took the jazz influenced musical tune and revived it as a downbeat ballad.

"Almost Like Being In Love"

The third single “Sailing Without A Sail” did not fare so well but did receive a minor amount of airplay.

Another album highlight is a Latin influenced pop-jazz recording of Curtis Mayfield’s “Gypsy Woman.” The mournful ballad “When You Come Home,” written by Eric Kaz and Tom Snow, was considered by many to be strong enough to have been a single release and received moderate airplay on MOR and adult contemporary radio stations.


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