The Lowdown - CD reviews, part III: reissues and discoveries

Last updated: December 4, 1999

All CD's reviewed by Glenn Hoskins & Barry Towler exclusively for RECORD CORNER, which is one of the leading soul shops in the world. These reviews are not featured in our printed issue.
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UK First Experience Records FER-CD3, 1999
1) Crying for Love 2) Stella 3) From the Darkness to the Light 4) Fire Burning 5) Waiting Patiently 6) He Say, She Say Game 7) Sweet & Wonderful 8) Out There in Space 9) No Where Love Affair 10) Rivers of Love 11) Turn to Love 12) Next to Me 13) Reach Out 14) Listen
This CD should sell like hot cakes. We all know the group - their mixture of soul, funk, disco and Latin elements madse this marvellous grouping a really talented band with the vaersatility and option to change tempo, direction and beat at the drop of a hat. Something not many artists can do today. Still, this CD is a collection of demo cuts that won them a recording deal with the CBS owned Bang label. These songs were recorded in 1981 and were intended to become their album for the label. Sadly this was not to pass, and these songs were to sit and gather dust. As one quick spin of this CD will show this was a criminal act. First Experience Records has now done the decent thing and has rectified this very sorry situation.
1981, as I have said before, was a vintage year for soul music and this is reflected in very song on this CD. I cannot really pull out any clear favourites on this CD but please, if I may, direct you to a few particular songs which I think should be given special listening treatment. Vocalists Debravon Lewis and Derick Hughes are superb, the latter is very reminiscent of the sadly missed and masterful Donny Hathaway. Both Stella and Listen are excellent readings of the 1977 Norman Connors versions, and are here performed by the writers themselves in their own right.
From the Darkness to the Light is a superb ballad complete with flute and summary percussion background which really does the honours. Continuing the trends is Fire Burning which underlines how criminal it was not to have had the material released years ago. The vocals on this song are stunning, with Derick Hughes really laying out the red carpet. Surprisingly, for me, was the Next to Me cut that was covered by drummer Kenneth Nash, on his 1986 Mr. Ears album. These tracks are but a few highlights from many gems on here. Please do not overlook this album.

Curtis Hairston
Chillin' Out - Let's Make Love Tonight - (You're My) Shining Star - Hold On (For Me) - All We Have Is Love - Take Charge - The Morning After - Let Me Change Your Mind
1986, as I keep rambling, was a wonderful year for soul music, and is certainly better than any Godforsaken year that one could pick of recent years. Atlantic released this fresh, midtempo orientated album from "Curtis Hairston", the voice behind more than one "BB&Q Band" hit in the '80s to much critical acclaim.
The same acclaim can be offered here, but again, it is also East-West Japan that take a lot of credit for breathing new life into this album. The album hits the ground running with the smooth, midtempo saxy Chillin' Out which is a track that perfectly encapsulates THAT gorgeous mid '80s soul / dance sound. Perfect enough, but this is also true of the eerie "Mtume"-ish ballad, (You're My) Shining Star. I have played this particular cut to death - as I have some of the others!
Hold On (For Me) is a funky rattler with slap guitar and quirky keyboard in the mix, too. Treading this very welcome path is the uplifting Take Charge which could easily be a BB&Q Band cut. There's the merest ghost of ricochet in the bassline, I feel. The absolute, hands down, no nonsense KILLER is the Solar sounding The Morning After which is just sublime, and could easily have been from the pen of the "Calloway Brothers". Such a euphoric, soulful and attention grabbing track. This has always been a sound and firm favourite in this household and I am now thankful that I can retire the vinyl album! The track suffered from a dreadful remix for 12" back in '87, and a listen, however brief to this will sort the boys from the men.
OK, so we have to pay a few quid more for Jap releases, but if you're waiting to see them on a US ar even a UK release sheet, then you'll be waiting forever. They don't last forever, so get them while you can.

Beverly & Duane
(Expansion UK CD)
1) Glad I Gotcha Baby 2) We Got To Stick Together 3) I Wanna Be With You 4) Surround Me 5) Take A Ride 6) Living In A World 7) I Found Love (When You Came Into My Life) 8) It's Gonna Be Alright (With My New Love)
What a treat it is to be able to own this album on CD. This particular album was very rare indeed and commanded great amounts of money, and it was a very good idea of Expansion to licence this album so that it can be made more widely available, and at a cheap price, too.
Produced by Will Hatcher, the album is firmly planted in the more quality output from 1978, when it really seemed that the whole world seemed to go disco crazy. The vibe of this set is one rooted in the loose, fluid arrangements, luscious strings and sweet male / female vocal duets that just ooze with memories of summer. This is an excellent album and cannot be faulted. Those who are regular listeners to Richard Searling's Soul Sauce will be more than familiar with most cuts on here, especially my personal favourite, Living In A World. The album has not dated one bit and still sounds good today.
Without going into too much detail, if you are into the quality soul sound of the mid / late 1970s, then look no further than this album. Both ballads and two-steppers are aplenty and will not disappoint. Expansion are doing some very good things, and this series of classic albums is surely living up to it's name. Along with the Joanna Gardner and the Leo's Sunship, the label is giving us soul fans a true service!
All in all, excellent from track one to the very end. I cannot recommend this set enough, and every soul lover should have this album in their collection.

Lollipop Luv
(Philly World / Hot CD)
1) Sexuality 2) Sensitivity 3) Tenderness 4) Menage A Trois 5) Caress 6) Infatuation 7) Lust 8) Ecstacy 9) Infedelity 10) Goodnight
Hot records continue to re-release soul gems from the 1980s, and have decided to grace us with this brilliant CD that was originally released back in 1984. Bryan's album was not given enough credit on its original release and so it should be highlighted right now. The whole album is a testimony to the vocal prowess of Bryan and the production talents of Nick Martinelli, who oversaw the whole set.
It is typically '80s from start to finish on this collection of excellent mid-tempo classics and dancers. If you were impressed by labelmates Eugene Wilde's Personality and Gotta Get You Home Tonight, Joanna Gardner's Pick Up The Pieces, or Terri Wells' You Make It Heaven, then do not delay in purchasing this album. Vocally, Bryan has some similarities with Eugene Wilde, and is rather welcome! All 8 tracks are worth a mention but, yet again, space will not allow a real in-depth review. All I will say is that the 1980s was a classic period for soul music, but very, very few record companies actually realise this, and soley concentrate on '60s and '70s albums to re-release. I'm not against that at all, but one listen to this album will make you realise how good the '80s were. Play Easier Said Than Done, For Tonight and the tremendous Falling In Love and then realise that there is a gaping hole in the CD re-release market at present. Don't be put off by the title of the album (not it's original title!), or the age of the recording artist as the music is excellent and the vocal delivery is mature. An album that is a very welcome re-release and should not be allowed to slip away a second time.

The Notations
(Charly UK CD)
1) It's All Right (This Feeling) 2) Take It Slow 3) Bills Breakup Home 4) Make Me Twice The Man 5) There I Go 6) Since You've Been Gone 7) It Only Hurts For A Little While 8) I'm Losing 9) Make Believin' 10) Think Before You Stop 11) Superpeople
Rare albums are being re-released on CD like nobody's business at the moment, and than God for it, too! As with the Beverly & Duane album above, this album from the legendary Notations was another rare album that had a king's ransome placed on it by record dealers and collectors alike.
Originally released by Curtom records in 1975, this album has all the hallmarks of a '70s classic and sounds very good on this digitally remastered CD. The Notations album is served up very much in a classic '70s mould with a lot of ingredients: Leroy Hutson is certainly one flavour.
Check out the collectors' favourite, Take It Slow, and hear what I mean. These guys have an excellent sweet soul harmony and are supported by some lovely tunes, crisp horns and swirling strings. The mood, in places, is very 'Philly' too - a play on Thom Bell and the Mighty Three production is echoed on the timeless Make Me Twice The Man. This is the sort of track that really hits the spot and makes you feel so, so good. There I Go and the foot-tapper, Since You've Been Gone are of a similar vein and I feel that they had some influence by the Spinners, surely. There is also a bonus cut here - Superpeople which is very much in the Curtis Mayfield bag, right down to the vocals.
A set that is completely unmissable.

The Very Best Of
(Deep Beats UK CD)
1) Why Can't We Be Loves (previously unreleased version) 2) Where Did We Go Wrong (feat. ELOISE LAWS) 3) Don't Leave Me Starvin' For Your Love 4) Slipping Away 5) If You Don't Want To Be In My Life 6) Lady By Day 7) The Picture Never Changes 8) Hijackin' 9) Didn't You Take Me From A World Outside 10) Baby Don't Leave Me Now 11) Come Together 12) New Breed Kinda Woman 13) Super Woman, You Ain't No Ordinary Woman 14) Don't Stop Playing Our Song 15) Where Did We Go Wrong 16) Can't Get Enough 17) I'm So Glad 18) Why Can't We Be Lovers (original version)
Back in 1992 H-D-H released their compilation, The Picture Never Changes, which was soon deleted, and as such became very rare. Deep Beats have done us all proud be releasing this essential compilation of Holland-Dozier-Holland's Invictus material. The album contains all the tracks that were contained on The Picture Never Changes but includes other unavailable tracks, and makes this CD essential.
There is a previously unreleased version of Why Can't We Be Lovers, and Can't Get Enough and I'm So Glad are the other new additions here; typical of the gentlemen and their work. Quite exceptional. Don't Leave Me Starvin' For Your Love is an absolute soul masterpiece as is Slipping Away. The strings that rip into The Picture Never Changes act as a sublime foundation for Lamont Dozier's unique vocals. New Breed Kinda Woman has always been a strong favourite not only with me, but with the modern soul / northern fraternity and rightly so! Incidentally, this version differs from the version offered on The Picture Never Changes as it is quite a bit longer.
A record such as this makes you feel really good inside. Along with Super Woman and the original version of Why Can't We Be Lovers, Deep Beats have really come up with the goods this time. No soul lover ought to be without this album.

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