Fantastic Johnny C
Band members Related acts
- Johnny Corley (RIP 2002) -- vocals
- none known
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Boogaloo Down Broadway
Company: Phil-L.A. of Soul
Country/State: Greenwood, South Carolina
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: Canadian pressing; small bullet hole lower right corner; lots of light marks, but plays without noise or skips
GEMM catalog ID: 5521
Anyone reading Johnny Corley's life story couldn't be blamed for thinking it was nothing more than one of those Hollywood scripts meant for a movie-of-the-week production.
Born in Greenwood South Carolina, Corley dropped out of high school to join what was then the Army's Air Force. Completing his military service, by the mid-1960s Corley was living in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown where he paid his bills working as a heavy equipment operator. A member of the Macedonia Baptist Church, Corley was also active in the church choir where his performances caught the attention of fellow church member/writer/producer Jesse James. James convinced Corley to record a couple of demo tracks that he'd written (James discovered Cliff Barnes at the same church). With James signing on as Corley's manager the pair decided to give secular music a try.
Billed as the Fantastic Johnny Corley (quickly shortened to the Fantastic Johnny C, Corley's initial break came when James somehow managed to get him a spot on ABC television's "American Bandstand". Corley's performance saw him lip-synched the James-penned 'Boogaloo Down Broadway' using the original demo track as backing. The resulting attention found him quickly signed by the Philadelphia-based Phil-L.A of Soul label which wasted no time releasing 'Boogaloo Down Broadway' b/w 'Look What Love Can make You Do' (Phil-L.A of Soul catalog 305) as a single.
Propelled in no small measure by the "American Bandstand" appearance the single proved a major pop and R&B hit (# 7 and # 5 respectively). It was followed in quick succession by a pair of follow-up singles that also charted:
- 1968's 'Got What You Need' b/w 'New Love' (Phil-L.A of Soul catalog 309) #56 pop # 32 R&B
- 1968's 'Hitch To the Horse' b/w 'Cool Broadway' ('Phil-L.A of Soul catalog 315) #34 pop; # 25 R&B
In the wake of his successes, as was standard marketing procedure Phil-L.A. of Soul rushed Johnny C. back into the studio to complete a supporting LP. Released as the cleverly-titled "Boogaloo Down Broadway", the album included the earlier singles (curiously excluding the 'answer' record Corley recorded in response to Cliff Noble's 'The Horse' - 'Hitch To the Horse') and a somewhat haphazard mixture of James originals and popular soul covers. That said, the results were far better than what you'd normally expect. Producer James provided Corley with a number of nice soul numbers (even if 'Cool Broadway' was little more than a remake of the title track). For his part Corley had one of those great soul voices that was perfectly suited for the LP's raw and slightly under-produced sound. At least to my ears Corley's chops were good enough to draw a comparison falling somewhere between Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett - check out his killer cover of Redding's 'Shout Bamalama' or the irresistible 'New Love'. While it certainly wasn't the most innovative soul LP of the year, dance tracks like 'Barefootin'', 'The Bounce' and 'Land Of 1000 Dances' made for a great dance album. One more killer track and this could've been a massive seller., though as it was the LP failed to chart.
Down Broadway" track listing:
1.) Boogaloo Down Broadway (Jesse James) - 2:41
2.) Cool Broadway (Jesse James) - 2:48
3.) Barefootin' (Robert Parker) - 2:20
4.) The Bounce (Ward - Fizer - Lewis) - 2:09
5.) Land Of 1000 Dances (Chris Kenner - Fats Domino) - 2:19
6.) Shout Bamalama (Otis Redding) - 2:11
2.) Baby I Need You (Jesse James - L. Garrett - 3:04
3.) (She's) Some Kind Of Wonderful (J. Ellison) - 2:35
4.) Stand By Me (Ben E. King - E. Glick) - 2:56
5.) New Love (Jesse James) - 2:07
6.) Warm & Tender Love (R. Robertson)- 2:44
Over the next couple of years Corley continued to record a string of singles for Phil-L.A. of Soul:
- 1968's '(She's) Some Kind of Wonderful' b/w 'Baby I Need You' (Phil-L.A of Soul catalog 320) # 87 pop
- 1968's 'Just Say the Word' b/w 'I'm a Man' (Phil-L.A of Soul catalog 363)
Ending his partnership with Phil-L.A of Soul in 1969, Corley signed with Kama Sutra releasing a pair of singles::
- 1970's 'Let's Do It Together' b/w 'Peace Treaty' (Kama Sutra catalog number KA-511)
- 1970's 'You've Got Your Hooks in Me' b/w 'Good Love' (Kama Sutra catalog number KA-515)
He then apparently resigned with Phil-L.A. of Soul releasing a pair of instantly obscure singles:
- 1972's 'Is There Anything Better than Making Love' b/w 'New Love' (Phil-L.A of Soul catalog 327)
- 1973's 'Don't Depend On Me' b/w 'Waitin' for the Rain' (Phil-L.A of Soul catalog 361)
Corley's musical career then seems to have subsequently collapsed. He apparently died from cancer in 2002.
Given the original LP is hard to find and expensive there are a couple of compilations on the market.
- 1998's "The Best of The Fantastic Johnny C" Jamie/Guyden catalog number J/G 4004-4)
- 2007's "The Fantastic Johnny C. The Phil-La Of Soul Singles Collection 1967-1973"
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