Junior’s Classic, Old School R&B Album "Ji" Rereleased on CD in US
One of my favorite R&B albums of 1982, Junior’s Ji, is now finally available on CD in the United States. The new CD version on SoulMusic records remains largely faithful to the original vinyl version, but includes many bonus remix versions of his hits and non-LP bonus tracks. Until recently, only five songs from the album were available on CD in the United States, on Junior’s Best of Junior collection.
Junior Giscombe is a British singer-songwriter born Norman Washington Giscombe in London on June 6, 1957. He began his career as a background vocalist with the British Funk/Soul band Linx in 1980. His debut solo effort “Ji” was a massive hit in the UK and a huge R&B hit in America. “Mama Used To Say” hit #30 on the Billboard Hot 100, #7 on the UK singles chart, and #2 on the US R&B chart. The follow-up single, “Too Late” reached #20 on the UK charts and #8 on the US R&B chart. The unique sound of the songs, complexity of the melodies, and unusual arrangements on the LP prompted Billboard magazine to award Junior their Best Newcomer award for 1982.
Junior teamed with British producer, arranger, musician and songwriter Bob Carter to produce and arrange the record. Carter co-wrote all but one of the songs on the original LP, “Is This Love” being the exception. Carter went on to produce the hit “Punch” from the highly-acclaimed Alternative Dance album by the UK group Colourbox.
Track listing for Junior’s Ji album rerelease on CD:
1. “Mama Used To Say” (6:41)
2. “Love Dies” (4:28)
3. “Too Late” (7:15) UK LP version
4. “Is This Love” (4:27)
5. “Let Me Know” (5:49)
6. “Down Down” (4:44)
7. “I Can’t Help It” (4:27)
8. “Darling You (Don’t You Know)” (5:37)
9. “Fame” (4:57) Non-LP UK 12” single
10. “Mama Used To Say” (4:59) UK 12” single Party Mix
11. “Mama Used To Say” (3:35) American 7” single
12. “Mama Used To Say” (4:36) UK 7” single, American Instrumental Mix
13. “Too Late” (3:32) UK 7” single, US LP version
14. “Too Late” (5:53) Alternate version
15. “In Words” (3:46)
In the spring and summer of 1982, I played Junior’s Ji album over and over again. Since switching my record collection over to CD in the early 90s, I’ve had several songs from the Ji album haunting me--yet I was unwilling to pay $30 or more for a CD import. The 2012 CD rerelease of the album has reminded me of how impressive the record was. “Love Dies” is a particularly infectious album track not available on Junior’s Greatest Hits; the bonus track “In Words” is a really great R&B/Pop song that I’ve never heard before, but seems like a natural extension of the Ji album.
If you like “Mama Used To Say” and old school 80s Soul and R&B, Junior’s Ji is a highly-recommended addition to your music collection. I’m convinced that the arrangements and songwriting contributed greatly to early Madonna records and Tina Turner’s Private Dancer album. It’s also a fantastic document of the development of British R&B, which includes bands like Hot Chocolate, Imagination, Loose Ends, Sade, and Soul II Soul.