The Shirelles (1972) S/T (LP) RCA Victor (LSP-4698)

The Shirelles
Shirelles

RCA Victor (LSP-4698)
1972
*** noteworthy

The Shirelles played a huge part in creating the girl group genre and bringing black music to white audiences, but by the time the Beatles covered two of their songs, audiences are opting for new acts. Still, the Shirelles kept at it, releasing singles and albums into the 70s, as this 1972 album shows (which reportedly is better their previous RCA album from 1971).

Their classic songs from the late 50s and early 60s were as much R&B and doo-wop as pop, so it shouldn’t be surprising that this outfit were able to update their sound and fit in with the soul music of the early 70s. This set features Shirley and Micki (who were both there from the beginning) and focuses on soul numbers from 1971.

Not surprisingly, they start the set with a then-recent Carole King number, “Brother, Brother” (not surprising because their relationship with King goes back to the beginning). This version seems to be a mix of King’s 1971 version and The Isley Brother’s version from 1972. Shirelles’ version was also released as a single, with “Sunday Dreaming” as the B-side–the second cut on this album. The first side also includes “It’s Going to Take Some Time” (another number from Carole King’s 1971 Music album) with a solid reading of Bill Withers’ 1971 “Ain’t No Sunshine” and the Bee Gees’ 1971 “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart. Al Green’s 1972 version of the Bee Gees’ song might have inspired the version on this album, especially considering this is followed by an Al Green number to conclude the first side.  (Of course, it’s that the Isley Brothers and/or Al Green were inspired by the versions on this album.)

When you cover classics by the great soul singers (Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” Joe Simon’s 1971 Gamble/Huff-penned “Drowning in the Sea of Love, Mary Clayton’s 1971 Carole King-penned “Walk On In” and Marvin Gaye’s 1971 “Mercy Mercy/Inner City Blues/What’s Going On” the listener can’t help from recalling the sharp bite of the originals, but if one lets go of all that and enjoys all these girls had offer, this offers plenty to enjoy. The band is uncredited but backs them up well, sounding like different line ups were perhaps used on different cuts, some arrangements by bassist David Van De Pitte (who arranged many Motown classics, including the What’s Going On sessions for Marvin Gaye), others by Wade Marcus (who was just beginning to make a name for himself in the worlds of jazz and soul), the set produced by Randy Irwin.

— winch (author of

 

 

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Moments (1976) Moments with You (LP) Stang 1030

Moments

Moments with You 

1976

Stang 1030

**** recommended


While the second side of this album is filled with forgettable attempts at disco funk produced and written by the group (Ray, Goodman, Brown), Side One is produced by Sylvia Robinson and filled with endless Carol Sager-penned gems for fans of that slow and mellow soul that came out of various East Coast cities in the late 60s and early 70s.


If you think they stopped making mellow magic once disco hit town, check out the first side on this Bicentennial-year offering.  This side doesn’t have a weak moment and might have been the best side this group offered in the ten years of their existence (1968 – 1978).  It’s also another feather in Sylvia’s many-feathered hat.

— winch (author of

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Timi Yuro (1963) Make the World Go Away (LP) Liberty 3319

Timi Yuro

Make the World Go Away

Liberty 3319

1963

**** (recommended)

When an Italian-American from Chicago sings an album full of hillbilly songs, probably the last thing you’d expect is a set of soul music, but that’s what you get.


Not only is this a soul album, it’s a good one, likely coming out of Ray Charles’ albums from a few years earlier.  Like with Ray’s country albums, sometimes the arrangements are a bit much, but fortunately Yuro’s voice shines through.


If you’re looking for an intro to this talented singer, this is a good place to start.

— winch

author of

Diana Ross (1980) Diana (LP) Motown 155

Diana Ross
Diana
Motown 155
1980
Written and Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers

Rating:*** (Noteworthy)

After Ross split for a solo career, the Supremes slowly faded into obscurity, and by the end of the 70s, it looked like Ross was headed for a similar fate.  Edwards and Rodgers came to the rescue with this album.  In many ways, this was another Edwards-Rodgers album: they not only provided the bass and guitar but wrote and produced this set.  While this helped put Ross back at the top, its success likely didn’t hurt Edwards-Rodgers.  Most listeners simply saw this as a Ross album, but the recording industry likely took notice of the team behind the hits.

“Upside Down” jumpstarts the proceedings, but perhaps it would have been more effective to ease into that number because the rest of the set sounds quite weak after that opener. Fans of Edwards-Rodgers should get a bang out of “Upside Down,” “I’m Coming Out,” and perhaps a few other numbers, but much of the material is filler–only for hardcore fans of Ross.

— winch 

Betty Wright (1968) My First Time Around (LP) Atco 33-260

Betty Wright
My First Time Around
Atco 33-260
Produced & Arranged by Brad Shapiro and Steve Alaimo
1968 

 

Good Shit *****

Solid debut from this Florida 14-year-old soul sister.


As the shag zebra-striped outfit suggests, this album wasn’t bubblegum soul but rather a young girl singing like a woman of experience, the presentation making no apologies for the fact that this set is dripping like the dew on a waterbed.  Wright handles the material with ease, contributing one cut herself and making the others her own.  The backing band is in fine form, the arrangements wrapping around her vocals like a silk slip, Murcia snaking his guitar licks into the mix.

This includes all her first A and B sides, and plenty of other gems.  While some cuts are simply classic, the entire set is strong.  No filler this time around.

— winch