Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Johnny Gill – Behind Closed Doors

About time we covered him beyond Shoup talking about his Pazz and Jop


Alfred Soto: “Rub You the Right Way” was 25 years ago, and it still astonishes me: one of the most frantic Jam-Lewis productions, with Gill huffing and puffing and feeling and stroking yet unable to knock it down. “Behind Closed Doors” by comparison depends on a conventional midtempo approach. Gill rasps through a Pharrell-inspired falsetto that recalls the old baritone threat only after a couple minutes in. Welcome back.

Thomas Inskeep: I am exceedingly happy that, thanks to the Adult R&B radio format, R&B stars of yesteryear no longer feel like they have to keep up with the kids, and can instead focus on what they do best: largely, making lovin’ music. I mean, really, can you imagine if Johnny Gill were making ill-advised records with Young Thug? Fortunately, instead we get creaminess like this slice of early-’90s throwback that could damned near pass for a Hi-Five or Phil Perry hit. Sumptuous. 

Jessica Doyle: I heard the opening beat, slightly menacing, and got so excited! Then it turned out that Gill chose falsetto for this one, and it comes out rather thin and uninspired. I suppose if he’d sung lower people would be complaining about a retread of “Rub You the Right Way.” Problem is, I was 12 in 1990, and “Rub You the Right Way” helped introduce to me the idea that a tension between lyrics and tone could itself be sexy. So from a purely personal perspective, all subsequent Gill releases have a lot to live up to.

Micha Cavaseno: Johnny Gill, aka the New Jack Dennis Edwards, is here over something that sounds gigglishly off-base. Gill returns to his post-Luther gospel soloing (and it ain’t what it used to be), yet his chorus seems peanut-brittle in strength. It’s the elephantine nature of those synth horns, the turgid quality of the piano hitting the bass, that keeps this lumbering and reveals the music’s metaphorical gut.

Josh Winters: If Toni Braxton & Babyface’s “Hurt You” was “Hold On, We’re Going Home” for the middle-aged set, this is their “773 Love.”

Anthony Easton: I only kind of like how soul-fried the production is here, and how the code (dancer, really?) is so loose a euphemism it seems more of a placeholder for historical memory than an actual thing. This is especially true when his fantastic voice under services the song. 

Brad Shoup: Not because of the falsetto itself — I hope not, anyway — but the way Gill inhabits it, the way it seems to exist outside of his body… it seems like transference. I can picture his lover caught up in his moment, because it’s her moment too. The track is a slow-motion leer, pounding in kicks and brass hums like railroad spikes. Love is a funny-ass thing.

Reader average: [7] (1 vote)

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5 Responses to “Johnny Gill – Behind Closed Doors”

  1. helpful reminder that i’ve always been terrible

  2. Brad, show us your pazz ‘n’ jop.

  3. Gill’s vote is recorded here.

  4. Wwwwwwait a minute… Did K Camp seriously thank you guys when for the “incredible feedback!” when you guys reviewed that Mykko Montana song? Nobody noticed that?

  5. Only saw it this morning. He ever get back to us on “Cut Her Off”?