Jesse Johnson stood out as the guitarist in The Time because of his funky guitar playing and roaring solo’s. After the band’s collapse he started his solo career. It wasn’t before long that Jesse Johnson found success on his own terms. A unique who released the impressive Verbal Penetration Volume 1 And 2 in 2009.
Jesse Johnson started playing the guitar around the age of 15 and, at the recommendation of a friend, moved to Minneapolis in April 1981, because that’s where it was happening at the time. Perhaps he could make it there.
He joined the band Enterprise, wherein Sue Ann Carwell and Morris Day also played. Morris Day had made a deal with Prince about a new band that was to be led by Day: The Time. Prince and Johnson met, Johnson asked for an audition, upon which Prince replied:
No need, Morris speaks highly of your playing and I feel your look will work perfectly for this project I’m developing.
With Jesse Johnson joining the band, The Time released three classic funk albums at the beginning of the 1980s: The Time, What Time Is It? and Ice Cream Castles. Johnson contributed to the writing of the songs on the last album. However, The Time was and would remain a Prince project and after Morris Day left (prior to the premiere of Purple Rain) Jesse Johnson decided to leave also.
With help from Prince‘s first manager Owen Husney, Johnson signed a deal with A&M Records. His career got off to a pretty good start with the release of his first solo album, 1985’s Jesse Johnson Revue. One year later Johnson released the fantastic Shockadelica, containing a collaboration with none other than Sly Stone. Two years later the great Every Shade Of Love was released. Particularly in the US, Johnson had some hits with songs like Be Your Man, Crazay (feat. Sly Stone), (She) I Can’t Resist, Black In America and Love Struck.
Meanwhile Johnson wrote and produced music for many soundtracks (including The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, Another 48 Hrs. and White Men Can’t Jump) and many artists, like Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, TaMara And The Seen, After 7, Da Krash, Kool Skool and Debbie Allen.
Unfortunately, the reunion didn’t last very long. Johnson stepped back and disappeared from the limelights. Out of nowhere, Bare My Naked Soul was released in 1996, a pattern-card for Johnson’s guitar skills, which are impressive. Blues and (hard) rock fill this heavy rock album. Highly recommended to anyone who loves a genius guitar playing! Following the release of 2000’s Ultimate Collection, all went quiet once more. Until 2009.
Verbal Penetration Vol 1 & 2
On October 27th, 2009, Jesse Johnson released his fifth solo album. A double cd, written, performed, arranged and produced by Jesse Johnson. An impressive feat, the album contains a number of magnificent songs, that deserve a much wider audience they ended up getting.
At the time I wasn’t aware the album even existed. It wasn’t until 2012, that I happened to read about the album. I immediately ordered it and was deeply impressed with all that was offered, even though it did contain a bit too many vocal tales, that disrupted the natural flow of the album.
Of both discs, Volume 1 is the best, by far. Songs like Verbal Penetration, Propaganda, 100 Watts Of Funky, Sheila Rae and We R So Strong are all very good. Glorious riffs, rock, soul, funk, jazz, the songs have it all.
Unfortunately, disc 2 is marred by many skits, stories and interviews (with Jesse Johnson). Yet, it does contain great songs like Get Next To You, Ali Vs Frazier and In The Key Of Nudity.
Because both discs vary so/too much quality-wise, I rate both discs individually:
|Verbal Penetration Volume 1|
|Verbal Penetration Volume 2|
Unfortunately, the second disc doesn’t add to the album. But don’t make the mistake of dismissing this disc, for it does contain some decent songs. In short, for everyone who loves rock, funk, soul, jazz at rare high levels, please find the album and purchase it. You won’t be disappointed.
All songs written by Jesse Johnson, unless stated otherwise.
- V.P. Introduction
- Verbal Penetration
- U & I R We R Us
- 100 Watts Of Funky
- Don’t Throw Yourself Away
- Slo Burnin
- Sheila Rae
- Love Letters
- Dream Interlude
- Slave 2 Freedom
- We Ain’t Going Nowhere Interlude *
- We R So Strong
- Beautiful Sadie
- Get Next To You
- Ali Vs Frazier
- Redemption For The Soul, Enlightenment For The Earhole ~
- Please Let Me Go
- Meditation 01: Astrology #
- You Have A Friend
- Reflections ^
- Meditation 02: Self-Love $
- Letters From A Soldier (Reprise)
- In the Key Of Nudity
- V.P. Credits
- Peace Be With You (Reprise)
* Jesse Johnson, JClassic
~ Jesse Johnson, Steven Ivory
# Jesse Johnson, Khaliph-Abdi Bey
^ Jesse Johnson, Bobby Ross Avila, Issiah J. Avila
$ Jesse Johnson, Khaliph Bey, Yausmenda Freeman Ali Bey
All vocals and instruments by Jesse Johnson, helped by:
- Sue Ann Carwell and Kim Riley – background vocals
All persons below have helped on 1 or 2 songs:
- David Chorane – horns and Fender Rhodes
- Eddie Minnefield – saxophone solo
- Glenn Jeffery – guitar
- Steven Ivory, Jezebella Kipp-Messmer, Michele Joynor, Angela Scott, Nicole Rivera Hines, Sadie Johnson – narrators
- JClassic – keyboards
Following Verbal Penetration
At the end of 2011 the reunion that was deemed impossible, somehow came to fruition. The Time reconvened, but (once again) it didn’t last too long. Problems with the name (meaning Prince didn’t give permission to use the name The Time) made The Time go by The Original 7ven (‘7ven’ being the number of the original band members). The album Condensate disappeared as quickly as it had come. Alledgedly, due to arguments within the band Jesse Johnson quit first.
In February 2012 Johnson played along on the TV special In Performance At The White House, after which he went on tour with D’Angelo, who’d recently risen from the ashes.
In 2014 D’Angelo released his eagerly expected follow-up to Voodoo: Black Messiah. D’Angelo went on tour with his band The Vanguard, which Jesse Johnson had joined. They played exciting genius shows, bringing the band to the Paradiso in Amsterdam. Concerts of the year!
In April 2019, Jesse Johnson performed at Celebration, a yearly event organized to celebrate Prince‘s life, at Paisley Park. He turned heads as he commented on the moments he and Prince weren’t really getting along.
A lot of things he did … hurt me to my soul.
Would I have come here if he was alive? Probably not.
I need to rest my soul, I loved him. He was my brother.
Thank you for being my therapy.
Honest and sincere, but a part of the audience chose to be offended.
What do you think of Jesse Johnson and Verbal Penetration in particular? Let me know!
Jesse Johnson – Live – Celebration 2019 image: twincities.com
The Time, What Time Is It?, Ice Cream Castle & Pandemonium (albums, 1981, 1982, 1984 & 1990) image: princevault.com/apoplife.nl
Jesse Johnson – Jesse Johnson’s Revue, Shockadelica, Every Shade Of Love & Bare My Naked Soul (albums, 1985, 1986, 1988 & 1996) image: discogs.com/apoplife.nl
Jesse Johnson – Verbal Penetration image: discogs.com
Jesse Johnson 2009 en Jesse Johnson – Pedals board images: jessejohnson.com
The Original 7ven – Condensate image: amazon.com