Numero Group: By The Numbers

Syl Johnson: Complete Mythology Bonus 45

With the signed contact sheet edition of Complete Mythology all but gone (less than 10 left), we shift our attention to the second item included in the mail order-only deal. Since the box features every single track known to have been recorded by Syl between 1959-1971, there weren’t a lot of options available for a bonus 45. So we did what we do best: we dug deep.

As soon as Syl started writing his own material, other artists began covering him. Most notable are Ken Boothe’s “Is It Because I’m Black,” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Pop It To Me” takes, but a handful of independent artists took on our hero as well. Our first choice was obvious, The Royal Revue featuring the Fascinators version of “Is It Because I’m Black” on Texas’ Garu label had been getting spins in house since we began the box some four years ago. We contacted the owners and licensed that and a bunch of other tracks in just in case (anyone with ideas on how to do a Garu set, get in touch).

Our second choice was Smokey 007 & the Exciters’ “Same Kind Of Thing.” The well versed Numerologist may remember Smokey’s name coming up in the liners to Cult Cargo: Grand Bahama Goombay, wherein he and his cousin Jay Mitchell battled it out for supremacy on the main island throughout the late 60s. but our licensing problems were two-fold. 1. His scorching cover is one of the rarer Bahamian records out there, and 2. Smokey has been dead for over a decade and our attempts at finding next of kin were met with a variety of head scratches.

We briefly considered licensing Larry “T-Bird” Gordon’s version of “Is It Because I’m Black” in, but it seemed kind of lame to have the same song on two sides of a 45. Gordon and Syl were label-mates at Hi in the 70s, and we encourage picking up his records should you stumble upon them .

In the end we went back to our Syl well and pulled out his brother Jimmy Johnson and his Deacon’s trace of “Sock It To Me,” issued on Syl’s Shama label in 1968. This instrumental version is organ-heavy party version, with a chorus of young females filling in for Syl’s “Sock It To Me” punches, albeit with less crotch thrusting.

Peep the label scans below (serious collectors of our Eccentric Soul 45 line take note: this is the only opportunity to fill out ES-013):

And listen to the non-45 tracks mentioned above:

Larry “T-Bird” Gordon “Is It Because I’m Black”

Ken Boothe “Is It Because I’m Black”

Howlin’ Wolf “Pop It To Me”

Smokey 007 & the Exciters “Same Kind Of Thing”

Scoop up the box and 45 here.

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