Most Wanted! Al Johnson with Jean Carn – I’m Back For More (Columbia)
On the heels of his participation to Norman Connors‘s ‘Invitation’ album back in 1979, the latter would return the favor, producing Al Johnson‘s ‘Back For More’ album, the year after. An album which includes the highly sought after new version of ‘I’ve Got My Second Wind’. But also ‘I’m Back For More’. A masterfully produced jazzy funk cool gem where he shared the duties with Jean Carn along with The Jones Girls on backing vocals.
– A singer, musician, arranger and producer, Al Johnson started his career as lead singer with The Unifics in the mid-60’s. Together, they released an album – ‘Sittin’ At The Court of Love’ – back in 1968, and a handful of singles before disappearing from the radars in the early 70’s.
Johnson went back to writing and recording in 1978, delivering his solo debut-album, ‘Peaceful’, for Indie label Marina Records. An album which included the original version of ‘I’ve Got My Second Wind’. Meanwhile, he started working as a backing singer and keyboardist with production pair Willie Lester and Rodney Brown. A collaboration which led him to appear on Bobby Thurston, Gayle Adams and Sharon Redd‘s albums.
He also took the lead on Norman Connors‘s ‘Your Love’, the opening track to his 1979 ‘Invitation’ album. Then he renewed the experience the year after on ‘I Don’t Need Nobody Else’ from further Connors‘s album ‘Take It To The Limit’. Connors producing Johnson‘s ‘Back For More’ album in the meantime…
Johnson didn’t manage to get more recognition on his own though, releasing only 3 albums in a 20 years period. He would nevertheless collaborate with many artists during the 80’s. From Evelyn King to The Whispers and Deniece Williams among others.
Johnson released a final album – ‘My Heart Is An Open Book’ – on Committee Records back in 1998.
He sadly died from complications following surgery on Oct. 26, 2013. He was 65.
– A Columbus, GA native, Jean Carn started singin’ at an early age with the encouragements of her family. Eventually becoming a member of her church choir. From then, she went on to learn to play the piano, the clarinet, and the bassoon, mastering all three before attending Morris Brown College. She planned furthering studies in NYC when she met and married Jazz pianist Doug Carn. And soon after joined him as a featured singer in his Jazz fusion band. Both of them releasing 3 albums on Black Jazz Records. Coming to the attention of Earth, Wind & Fire, she would contribute to their 2 first albums. Then join Norman Connors along with Michael Henderson on his 1975 ‘Saturday Night Special’ album.
By 1976, Jean Carn signed a record deal with Philadelphia International Records. Releasing her eponymous debut-album the same year and therefore makin’ quite a sensation with ‘Free Love’. Another big classic of hers – ‘Don’t Let It Go To Your Head’ – followed 2 years after, as a part of her ‘Happy To Be With You’ album. Meanwhile a third one – ‘Was That All It Was’ – written by Jerry Butler came up by the end of 1979, closing her ‘When I Find You Love’ album.
1980 saw her delivering another quite sought after gem. Sharing the duties with Al Johnson on the quiet stormy ‘I’m Back For More’. Meanwhile she would switch from PIR to sublabel TSOP the year after. Resuming her liaison with the Philly label with ‘Sweet And Wonderful’, she duetted with Glenn Jones on a cover version of the Spinners’ ‘Love Don’t Love Nobody’.
Carn then made a quick stop on Motown with her 1982 Norman Connors produced ‘Trust Me’ album. Eventually comin’ up with a cover version of ‘If You Don’t Leave Me By Now’. Signing with Omni Records, she teamed up with Grover Washington, Jr who produced her 1986 ‘Closer Than Close’ album. The title track of which providing her with her only ever #1 in the U.S. R&B charts. 3 extra albums followed including her latest to date – ‘Love Lessons’ – back in 1996 on Moja Entertainment.
Jean Carn is also remembered for her collaborations with Roy Ayers, Stanley Turrentine and Rick James.