Syl Johnson – 1968 – Dresses Too Short

johnson - 1968 - dresses too short front cover

 The funkiest album that Syl Johnson ever recorded – filled with short, tight cuts that play more like a stack of funky 45s than the standard soul album of the time! The record draws from the great run of singles that Syl cut for Twinight Records at the end of the 60s – some of the hardest soul coming out of Chicago at the time, with a gritty feel that’s right up there with some of James Brown’s best late 60s work – or even better, some of the other obscure acts working in the American underground at the time. A few tunes are familiar from their popularity as classic 45s – but the album’s got lots more wonderful numbers that are lesser-known – and all of them are great! (Dusty Groove).

A1 Dresses Too Short 2:44
A2 I Can Take Care of Business 3:00
A3 Different Strokes 2:20
A4 Soul Drippin’ 2:24
A5 Fox Hunting on the Weekend 2:32
A6 Ode to Soul Man 2:30
B1 Come on Sock It to Me 2:26
B2 I’ll Take Those Skinny Legs 1:57
B3 Try Me 2:02
B4 Same Kind of Thing 2:21
B5 I’ve Got the Real Thing 2:40
B6 Sorry ‘Bout Dat! 2:14 

johnson - 1968 - dresses too short back cover

Review by Soulmakossa

 A little gem in the Southern Soul canon is Syl Johnson’s first Twinight album, released in 1968.

More a collection of A- and B-sides, there nonetheless isn’t a trace of filler here. A coherent, hard socking album which solely intended people to get on up and ‘do their thing’.

Dresses Too Short” is an incredible hard vamp of horn heavy Southern Soul, with Syl laying one of his blues-drenched vocals over a rock hard, funky beat. Somewhat reminiscent of Wilson Pickett’s “She’s Looking Good“, but man does it swing…

The second track, “I Can Take Care of Business“, actually is the only ballad here, and even this one rides a solid, rough groove. The horns here are fantastic, especially when Syl segues into the remarkable chorus.

Different Strokes” gets things right back in the pocket; a frantic beater featuring Staxy horns (Otis Redding and Carla Thomas’ “Tramp” comes to mind) and a truly awesome vocal/musical finale; “Soul Drippin‘” is just as relentless, with some very appealing female backing vocals adding to the chorus.

Johnson’s barely disguised ode to Clarence Carter’s “Lookin’ for a Fox“, “Foxhunting on the Weekend” and the incredibly funky ‘pseudo-rap’ during “Ode to Soul Man” close Side A.
johnson - 1968 - dresses too short label

The flip kicks off with Syl’s biggest hit up to that date, the gruffy “Come on Sock It to Me“, with its highly syncopated chorus structure, sudden outbursts of horn and dark, heavy guitar. It ends with Syl letting out one of those fabulous Jackie Wilson-esque, high-pitched wails. 

I’ll Take Those Skinny Legs” obviously is a pun on Joe Tex’s crossover smash “Skinny Legs and All” – and just as funky – whereas “Try Me” (most definitely not the James Brown classic ballad) lazily plods along a understated groove, accentuated by the thick, meaty bass and the eclectic workout on organ. 

Same Kind of Thing” is my favorite cut here; the chorus is so irresistibly funky and melodic at the same time, while the heavy brass is as greasy and in-your-face as everywhere else on this disc. Rock hard drumming here, as well. 

The raw “I Got the Real Thing” is a little bluesier, but still firmly rooted in the groove, while the album’s last track, the hilarious “Sorry ‘Bout Dat!‘ is a great, scorching tune featuring some nice, intricate guitar noodlings. 

A great slab of hardcore, sweat-inducing, boogaloopin’ Southern Soul.

Enjoy his masterpiece ” Is It Becasuse I’m Black” in our back pages here.

Buy the Album

  • Vincent the Soul Chef
    Posted at 12:35h, 11 June 2014 Reply

    This is the stuff that dreams are made of, and a situation where a reissue just won’t do (although I do have the Complete Mythology box set). Outstanding share! Thanks as always 🙂

  • Eddie
    Posted at 12:54h, 11 June 2014 Reply

    Great!! Thank You!

  • Joe
    Posted at 15:17h, 11 June 2014 Reply

    Excellent! Thanks!

  • liam
    Posted at 17:43h, 11 June 2014 Reply

    superb album. keep on rollin’ man.

  • Joeboy
    Posted at 07:30h, 12 June 2014 Reply

    Many thanks for this slab of early funk!

  • Ramel
    Posted at 08:37h, 12 June 2014 Reply

    Thank you.

  • Grumpy
    Posted at 09:45h, 12 June 2014 Reply


  • Thomas
    Posted at 22:58h, 12 June 2014 Reply

    This is real music.I love music for the old school

  • Regina
    Posted at 23:02h, 12 June 2014 Reply


  • Tiago
    Posted at 08:45h, 13 June 2014 Reply

    thanx 4 everything, so much gems, so much joy – what a work!!!!

  • Lou Moss
    Posted at 09:00h, 13 June 2014 Reply

    I gotta check this one out. Guys you never disappoint. Many thanks.

  • Macao
    Posted at 18:14h, 13 June 2014 Reply

    now i understand what people mean when they say music is the sound of love.

  • Ayanna
    Posted at 09:25h, 14 June 2014 Reply

    one of the best

  • Lauren
    Posted at 00:16h, 15 June 2014 Reply


  • Dennis Brown
    Posted at 11:21h, 15 June 2014 Reply

    What a powerful voice! Syl!

  • Luther
    Posted at 11:35h, 15 June 2014 Reply

    Syl, Yes !!! all his music is priceless and timeless. However my favorite album is “Is it because i’m black”. A masterpiece.

  • Lemon33
    Posted at 21:39h, 15 June 2014 Reply

    Mind Blowin!!

  • Velvet
    Posted at 09:05h, 16 June 2014 Reply

    Dope. That’s all there is to it.

  • Pleasure77
    Posted at 08:59h, 17 June 2014 Reply

    Beginning with his first hit, “Come On Sock It to Me” in 1967, Johnson dominated the label – Twinight Records of Chicago – as both a hitmaker and producer. His song “Different Strokes”, featured on the Ultimate Breaks and Beats breakbeat compilation.

  • Paul
    Posted at 09:42h, 20 June 2014 Reply

    Great choice. Thank you for your wonderful blog and music. You’re funking my soul!

  • Scott
    Posted at 23:43h, 20 June 2014 Reply

    ol skool …kool az hell

  • Jan
    Posted at 22:03h, 14 July 2014 Reply

    Thank you for this nice album.

Post A Comment

Anti Spam: Please complete the following before clicking on *add comment* *