Without the good people named Johnny Moore there would be a noticeable decrease in the size of vintage blues, rhythm & blues and soul sides. Put them all together and a rollicking good time would be had; indeed, when a Chicago soul singer by that name came up with the song "Lonely Heart in the City," he couldn't have possibly been thinking of such a get-together. Even staying within the greater Windy City area there are a number of performers this Johnny Moore could have been confused with since then who began recording for small labels such as Blue Rock in the '60s. In the previous decade, another Johnny Moore had begun managing the El Dorados, a vocal group consisting of students from the high school where he worked as a janitor. That Moore was still collecting royalty checks for the group's subsequent hit, "At My Front Door (Crazy Mama)." The Johnny Moore under discussion here was also a songwriter, published many more titles than the previously mentioned janitor/manager, but never enjoyed a hit the size of the El Dorados song. Meanwhile in Chicago there was also a blues guitarist and bandleader whose decision to utilize his middle initial in credits no doubt saved Johnny B. Moore from a similar identity crisis. But this wise choice doesn't mean the guitarist should get the credit for some of the superb material the Johnny Moore without the "B" came up with for harmonica player and bandleader Junior Wells when that Chicago blues legend was looking for a soul update. "The Hippies Are Trying" is worth a special mention. Lonely Heart in the City was also the title of Moore's first release of either an album or CD's worth of material -- nearly 40 years after his career began. During that time there were triumphs for other performers named Johnny Moore, major and minor. A journeyman doo wop tenor with that name got the chance to sing lead on a new Drifters recording because the regular frontman, a binge eater, had gorged himself to death the morning of the recording session. There was also a guitarist and bandleader out in Los Angeles leading Johnny Moore's Three Blazers featuring rhythm & blues legend Charles Brown. Not to be confused with either of these performers nor others too numerous to list individually, the Chicago soul man carefully and craftily wrote songs recorded by a series of respected vocalists including Tyrone Davis and Syl Johnson. Moore's chance for a late-period bloom comes along at a time when others of his generation are experiencing similar bumps, when new stylistic terms such as Northern soul are lovingly coined and old ones such as "cosmic funk" bandied about with delight. More than two dozen of Moore's performances are collected on the Grapevine release from 2000, including the finger-pointing "You're the One to Blame," the conclusive "It's All Over" and the illuminating "Just Be for Real." Compilations focusing on various small Chicago labels also give listeners the opportunity to sample Moore alongside contemporaries such as Otis Leavill and Johnnie Mae Matthews. ~ Eugene ChadbournePortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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