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Soul Express CD Review

Michael Henderson: Slingshot CD
Buy the CD reissue from our CD Shop

MICHAEL HENDERSON

Slingshot

CD reissue by Funky Town Grooves (USA, 2011)
The original album on Buddah, 1981

1) Slingshot 2) Never Gonna Give You Up 3) Can't We Fall In Love Again (duet Phyllis Hyman) 4) Take Care 5) Make It Easy On Yourself 6) We Are Here To) Geek You Up 7) In It For The Goodies 8) Come To Me


This is definitely been a long time coming, and I am very happy indeed to see this album reissued properly on CD from the master tape. The Miles Davis Band bass man had more than earned his Love Man credentials in the 1970s with a series of scorchingly essential albums for Buddah (FTG PLEASE reissue "Goin' Places" again on CD please...couldn't afford it last time!) and by the early 80s was still delivering the goods and then some! Although I'm not sure about the cover (!) the grooves the album contains are superb for the most part and on one or two occasions surprisingly so!

My first choice simply has to be the beautifully arranged and delivered "Never Gonna Give You Up", a brilliant cover of the Jerry Butler song, and one I have played to death over the years... yet again from this we can all hear how magnificent 1981 was - and still is. The man responsible for the magnificent string arrangements is none other than the legendary Gene Page, and production from Chuck Jackson... it really doesn't get much better than this.

As David Cole rightfully says in his liner notes, on "Can't We Fall In Love Again" both Phyllis Hyman and Michael Henderson have a great vocal blend... their symbiosis is indeed a match made in heaven and it still hurts me to think that this Great Lady is no longer with us. A crying shame. What also makes this track extra special for me is the Philly flavour, complete with sitar and swirling strings... if only Philly would produce such greatness today...well, I understand Gamble and Huff DO, but it simply sits on the shelf! What's that all about?!

That aside, let's look at the sexy "Take Care"... listen closely to Michael's vocals and then think Paul Laurence... My God! Not noticed this before, but on this song we could be listening to Paul and not Michael, right down to the phrasing too. Michael's cover of the great Burt Bacharach / Hal David song "Make It Easy On Yourself" is great with the strings, and a great compliment to any of the versions that went beforehand - although my favourite simply has to be the Walker Brothers.

For those who are not familiar with this album "(We Are Here To) Geek You Up" and "In It For The Goodies" will be a bit of a shock! The former is a great, great funky stomper and contains some great basslines and funky keys very much in a George Clinton / Parliament mode! Play this LOUD! For some who adore Michael's balladry, this may be too way out but I love it! I like variety and a bit of light as well as shade. Or vice versa!

The latter song is a great boogie tune that has 1981 stamped all over it... we are getting into 80s synths here and had Michael carried on as he had we may have tasted the Michael Henderson of the 1980s.

The final cut, "Come To Me", is probably more in tune with what many of his fans expected and vocalist Venna Keith adds a more soulful voice here than on "In It For The Goodies" - all these ingredients make "Slingshot" a solid, no-brainer purchase. Get rid of the dodgy old vinyl and get this on superbly remastered CD... this set sounds amazing and the more we get of this calibre the better!
-Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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