1. My Way
2. Jump Into Fire
3. Let’s Take Time Out
4. Missing You
5. Much Too Much
6. You’re The One I’ve Needed
7. Let This Dream Be Real
8. Everywhere I Go
9. Let This Dream Be Real (Remix) [Bonus Track]
10. Let’s Take Time Out (Long Version) [Bonus Track]
Format: V0 MP3
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This album, Howard Johnson’s second solo offering, quickly grew into a favorite. Johnson’s solo debut Keepin’ Love New was a stellar showcase of the R&B style favored in the early part of the 1980s, due in no small part to the fact it was produced by some of the best up-and-comers of the time, such as Kashif and Paul Laurence; with the Kashif-produced “So Fine” briefly touching #1 R&B, one would think Johnson would take them along for the second time around. Instead, he hooked up with another great production outfit, Mic Murphy and David Frank’s The System, a group who had just begun to gather notoriety on their own records. The result is a more electrified and even more easily danceable set that isn’t that far off from where Howard left with the preceding album.
While one would be quick to consider that the appeal of this album draws solely from its production, Howard is careful not to let his ever-affable voice not get drowned under the sea of synthesizers, drum machines, and rhythm guitar. The song that immediately caught my ear is also its signature single, “Let’s Take Time Out” — which is vintage System, a lot more “R&B” than even their own records of the time. However, the song that stuck with me, even with several weeks of having not listened to it was “You’re The One I’ve Needed”. Both the lyrics, and the chill-ed out synthesizer intro are a perfect pairing for Howard’s call to a distant love. It is, if anything, the musical version of “Claw-bait”. Thankfully, in the CD issue that is packaged with this review, the synthesizer intro is retained; a vinyl-based bootleg reissue that circulated before the recent pressing omitted this ever-crucial part of the song.
As this style of R&B has been slowly, but surely resurfacing in indie circles, and making a (relative) resurgence in reissue markets, those who are curious about why the early ’80s sound is such a big deal ought to give this (and the rest of Howard’s 80’s material) a listen.