Michael at the mike
Michael Johnson, to hear some tell it, is the record world's latest "overnight sensation."
But like many who are giving that tag, Johnson has been paying his dues a long, long time. In the case of the singer-guitarist-composer, it adds up to nearly 20 years. Now, things are happening for the personable talent...happening big and fast.
Johnson bounced from his chart-busting "Bluer Than Blue" single sensation to his current high-riding "This Night Won't Last Forever". That latest hit is the featured track in his newest and impressive LP, Dialogue. The album isn't a one-song package, however. Sample the intriguing "Blackmail" or the tender ballad, "She Put The Sad In All His Songs".
More than 500 songs were tested before the final 10 were selected. Johnson obviously isn't going to let success go to his head -- or slide through his fingers. His lengthy road to stardom has carried him from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York to Spain -- and included an extended stay in Minnesota. That is hardly "overnight." For Johnson, it was a night that didn't last forever.
August 25, 1979
Johnson hit gold last year with "Bluer Than Blue" and returns here with another set of mellow, adult contemporary pop material. String and horn arrangements highlight the tunes, written by such up-and-coming composers as Tom Snow, Randy Goodrum, Eric Kaz, Parker McGee and Patti Dahlstrom. Some of the tunes here are mushy and bland, but the best of them have the tempo and energy necessary to avoid sweetness.
Best cuts: "This Night Won't Last Forever", "Drops Of Water", "Dialogue"
Daily News - New York City
November 26, 1979
Here's a happy story about a handsome new singer. Well, he's not all that new. He's in his early 30s and comes from the Chicago area. His first two albums on Atlantic went nowhere fast but when he switched to EMI, things started happening. Last year he made an album that spawned a Top Five single, "Bluer Than Blue", and with this album he has clicked again with a Top 20 single, "This Night Won't Last Forever".
His name is ordinary but his talent is anything but. His voice is strong, clear and extremely appealing in the manner of Barry Manilow or James Taylor (though Johnson, unlike the latter, doesn't sing through his nose). The material varies from romantic ballads to uptempo disco tunes. The lyrics are perceptive and intelligent; the arrangements impeccably tasteful and stylish. The opening number is the gently loping hit single, and the album's closer, "Dialogue", leaves you longing for more.
My one complaint is that he plays the guitar on only one number? This guy is such an outstanding guitarist that when he played at the Other End on Bleeker St. last year, Les Paul and George Benson who were in the audience, sang his praises afterward. Oh, well, I guess guitarists don't sell as many records as singers.
Sit down with Michael Johnson and get ready for a meaningful Dialogue. This low-key performer knows how to take a song and give it a uniquely personal interpretation with his softly seductive voice. The title song is a masterpiece mix of lyrics, tune and instrumentals, and there's some subtle upbeat humor in "Blackmail".