SANDRA FEVA Savoir Faire Plus
UK Shout! CD, 2009
The original release on Venture, 1981
1) Tell 'Em That I Heard It
2) Butterfly [Bonus track]
3) Leaving This Time
4) Living With Someone
5) Fade Away
6) Let The Roses Die
7) Who's Making Love
8) Here, Now
10) You Won My Heart
11) Just To Be Close To You
12) Choking Kind [Bonus track]
13) If You Want It You Got It [Bonus track]
14) Expressway To Your Heart [Bonus track]
15) Love To Be Your Woman [Bonus track]
Produced by Tony Camillo & Cecile Barker
Last month, our classic album of the month was the excellent
Phyllis Hyman album
Can't We fall in Love Again, and now we have an even better reissue by a
female soul artist from the same year: Sandra Feva's Savoir Faire – and again
with no less than five bonus tracks!
I listed this album as the number two soul LP of the year at the time of its release,
and I think it has not lost any of its magic in nearly 30 years. What makes this
such a strong album is that both the ballads and the funky upbeat numbers are
equally powerful. On the ballads, Sandra reminds me of Gladys Knight, while on
the funkier cuts Gwen McCrae at her very best is a close point of comparison.
If you like the music of Gladys and Gwen, don't hesitate a second, just click
and buy the CD.
Sandra Feva may be an unfamiliar name to those who didn't follow indie soul
scene in the early 80s, but she certainly was not unknown to real soul enthusiasts
at the time. On the contrary, it seemed that every connoisseur rated her very high, and
compared her to Gladys Knight, Betty Wright, Margie Joseph and other songstresses
of the same calibre. Fellow Soul Express scribe Heikki Suosalo wrote in early 1983
that he "hasn't heard a better album by a female singer this decade", John Abbey
in Blues & Soul considered Sandra on a par with Gladys, and Clive
Richardson cites in the liner notes of this reissue release that "here was a
new voice to match the newly-solo Gladys Knight and the vibrant Patti LaBelle".
So who am I to disagree! Sandra really shines here, and ballads such as
Here Now, Leaving This Time, Tell 'Em That I Heard It, You Won My Heart
and Let the Roses Die represent 80s female soul
at its very best – or actually the best soul of any decade, since these tracks are timeless soul
masterpieces with real instrumentation. The Gladys comparisons were inevitable, not
only because Sandra's impressive vocals, but also because of producer Tony Camillo who
was had been the producer on Gladys' Imagination album (from 1973)
that spawned classics like Midnight Train to Georgia, I've Got to Use My Imagination
and Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.
Tony's and Sandra's collaboration
had actually begun even before 1973, because Sandra's first recording was in 1971 (as Sandra
Richardson, her then-married name) on the
Buddah label, the original version of I Feel a Song (in My Heart), written and
produced by Camillo. The same song was later recorded by Gladys, resulting in another
number one soul hit for her in 1974.
But as I mentioned, the reason why I liked this album so much was that you didn't
have to skip tracks between the quality ballads, because the mid-tempo and faster numbers were
equally enjoyable. I especially love Betcha, a melodic, bouncy mid-pacer with funky bass
and real horns, and Just to Be Close to You, a Mtume & Lucas type of mid-swayer.
And unlike some other reviewers, I even liked Sandra's
rendition of Johnnie Taylor's funky mover Who's Making Love, since the
arrangement reminds me of Gwen McCrae's funky cuts of the same period.
The five bonus cuts do not match the quality of the original album, but they are a
worthwhile addition to the collection. They include Sandra's Venture debut single
Chokin Kind (originally a country
song that Joe Simon turned a number one smash in 1969), and the original
B-side of the single hit Tell 'Em, a song titled Butterfly, which
is a beautiful country-tinged soul ballad very much in the Jim Weatherly / Gladys mould.
If You Want It You Got It is the weakest track on this CD, a second-rate
disco jogger from 1978, originally the B-side of Chokin Kind.
The CD closes with two tracks from Sandra's earlier Need to Be album,
a gutsy cover version of the Soul Survivors hit from 1967,
Expressway to Your Heart, and the bassy funker Love to Be Your Woman.
Read about Sandra's recent recordings and contributions from the 12-page CD leaflet,
written by Clive Richardson.