Rolling Stone - 4/20/95, p.72
"...BACK IN THE GAME finds Johnson in dependably soulful form, reprising some of his old Hi hits with the label's original crack rhythm section and even plunging into deep blues..."
Personnel: Syl Johnson (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica); Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, Will Crosby (guitar, acoustic guitar); Pete Nathan (guitar); Ken Vandermark (tenor saxophone); Willie Henderson (baritone saxophone); Kenny Anderson (trumpet); Fred Hodges, Charles Hodges (piano, organ); Vincent Varko, Johnny Logan (organ); Howard Grimes, Morris Jennings (drums); Syleena Thompson, Theresa Davis (background vocals).
Liner Note Author: Robert Pruter.
Recording information: Riverside Studio, Chicago, IL (11/26/1993-05/31/1994).
Photographer: Marty Perez.
Unknown Contributor Role: Hi Rhythm Section.
1994's BACK IN THE GAME marks a comeback of sorts for Syl Johnson, one of the more under-appreciated soul singers still working. The recording reunites Johnson with the Hi Records' house band, with which he'd created memorable music in the '70s.
Recorded in Chicago, base of operations for the Delmark label and Johnson's hometown, BACK IN THE GAME stresses the singer's bluesier side. While Johnson is a fine guitarist and harmonica player, his most notable instrument is his singing voice. His delivery is impassioned, his singing soulful, and his performance always committed and compelling. The straight-ahead BACK IN THE GAME matches Johnson with no-frills production and smart, sturdy, and rhythmic players. The warm and clear recording preserves the interplay between Johnson and the four-piece band, augmented at times with keyboards and horns.