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THE EMOTIONS STORY

Album by Album

Part 1: The Stax / Volt period


Check also the full Emotions discography of albums


I've been planning to write an album-by-album story of The Emotions vocal group since the mid-80s, but somehow I never did. Now is the high time, when there is also a new Anthology of the group released, and also we have an excellent Ace compilation of their early Stax material still available. These are availalbe on our own Soul Express online CD store, as well as most of the original album reissues by the group.

Personally, I started listening to soul music in the mid-70s, and found The Emotions through their Columbia releases with Earth Wind & Fire's Maurice White producing tracks like Best of My Love and Don't Ask My Neighbors. I instantly fell in love with the group's wonderful vocals and harmony style, and naturally ordered their previous Stax albums from mail order record stores. And of course, I bought all of their future albums ever since. Check the full Emotions album discography on our site.

The Emotions' Stax albums have been available for decades in CD format as well, with both So I Can Love You and Untouched on the same disc, and the 1977 Stax release Sunshine was reissued also in Japan. Meanwhile, Columbia/Sony has kept their most popular Columbia releases available all the time. In the last few years, many of the group's 80s release have been reissued by UK labels. Expansion Records did a wonderful job (thank you, Ralph Tee!) reissuing their 1978 Columbia albums Sunbeam and Flowers plus their pretty rare 1984 album Sincerely, PTG Records/Vinyl-Masterpiece published their 1981 Columbia set New Affair on CD, and finally BBR/Big Break Records reissued their 1979 set Come Into Our World. The only Emtoions album that has NOT been reissued in CD format is their only Motown album If I Only Knew from 1985.

Before their Volt/Stax albums, The Emotions - featuring originally three sisters Sheila, Wanda and Jeanette Hutchinson - recorded a couple of singles on Brainstorm and Twin Stacks label in 1967-1968. None of this have been included in any of the recent compilations or the Anthology double by BBR, as they all begin from 1969, when the group started their Volt period. I managed to get these singles from a good old friend of mine, who had bought them - believe or not - with a few coins from a second-hand record store from Western Finland, Vaasa, during his summer vacation in the early 80s! At that time I was not aware of any of the recordings by the Emotions prior to the Stax season, and I was pretty amazed by the peculiar Twin Stacks label. Anyway, the label name only coincidentally resembled their future Stax home, as both Brainstorm and Twin Stacks were only small local Chicago labels. Listening to the singles, however, there was no doubt this was really the Emotions, the same group that found success later on Stax and Columbia. The production was not as professional as on Stax, but the vocals were certainly the same Hutchinson sisters harmonies and Sheila's lead vocals were instantly recognisible.

The Volt / Stax period

The story is that Pervis "Pops" Staples of the Staple Singers spotted The Emotions from a talent show of Chciago's famous Regal Theatre, but as Tony Rounce stated in his linernotes of the excellent Songs of Innocence and Eperience compilation, it is very likely that the Staples had already crossed paths with Hutchinson Sunbeams earlier, when the group was actively performing on various gospel programmes in Chicago during the late-60s. Anyway, Pops helped the Emotions signed with Stax in the autumn of 1968, and the group remained on the label until its demise in the late 1974.

The aforementioned Songs of Innocence and Eperience compilation CD is already out-of-print, and the last few copies are much sought-after on eBay and Amazon and other online marketplaces. The Stax/Ace CD compiles 23 tracks of The Emotions' Volt period, including six previously unreleased songs. These include some very interesting choices, like their original version of the Luther Ingram anthem (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right. You can read from Heikki Suosalo's Luther Ingram story that The Emotions really "cut it first, but they thought it was too risqué for their image"!

The earliest single The Emotions recorded on Volt was So I Can Love You / I Got to Be the Man (Volt 4010, 1969), and the group released three singles on Volt in 1969, two of them being also later printed on the Stax imprint. Naturally, an album followed and the Emotions' debut album So I Can Love You from 1969 on Volt compiled the first two singles with their B-sides on the album:

So I Can Love You

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So I Can Love You
US Volt LP 6008, 1969
A 1) So I Can Love You
2) Somebody Wants What I Got
3) Going on Strike
4) I Found My Man
5) Got to Be the Man
B 1) The Best Part of a Love Affair
2) I Like It
3) My Letter
4) Day Dreams
5) It's Not Fair
6) Two Lovers

The debut set So I Can Love You contained 11 tracks, including the A and B-sides of the group's first two singles. The album was produced by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, and Pops Staples was also heavily involved, writing three songs on the album.

Stax compiled a 2on1 CD of The Emotions' first two sets, and this reissue also contains an excellent introduction of the group (written by Rob Bowman in 1996), starring colourful interviews with Sheila Hutchinson, Wanda Hutchinson and Theresa Davis, describing each song. Sheila Hutchinson told in her interview that the group's first Stax single So I Can Love You was a true story about her high school romance. The beautiful song was self-written by Sheila and naturally she sung the lead vocals on this highly soulful performance. The single raised to the number three position of the Billboard soul charts, and was also a top 40 hit on the pop charts. This was their most succesful single on their whole Stax period.

The B-side of the breakthrough single was a song titled Got to Be the Man, written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, and on this gritty funk-oriented number Wanda Hutchinson duets with Sheila and sings the rougher parts. Wanda takes the lead on the bluesy Somebody Wants What I Got. "I had a crush with Isaac, so I was trying to act like I knew what I was singing about", explained Wanda.

The second single release was released four months after the succesful first single, in July 1969. The songs on the 2nd single were The Best Part of a Love Affair b/w I Like It, and it gave the sisters a top 30 hit but just missed the top 100 of the pop charts (position #101). The sister's daddy was not that enthuasiastic with Sheila singing about "the best part of a love affair is making up, after breaking up", but her angelic vocals over the provocative Hayes-Porter-written lyrics were perfect for radio play. The flip-side I Like It was more typical funky Memphis stuff, a song Sam & Davis might have recorded in the 60s. The Memphis Horns, and three members of the Bar-Kays, James Alexander, Willie Hall and Michael Toles were playing the horn lines.

Not everything they recorded was fondly remembered by the sisters. Wanda said she actually hated the song Day Dreams, which was written by Pops Staples, who according to Wanda, "was trying to write a Perry Como song". Well, in the typical Stax backdrop, it certainly sounded more earthy than any Perry Como performance, but maybe this really wasn't among the highlights on their first album.

Pervis (Pops) also wrote a tender ballad tune My Letter, which Sheila gives a stylish reading. This one the sisters rate as one of their favorite songs on the album, but it had a bit blues-y feel as well, and the producers did not allow Pops to write any songs on the Emotions' second album.

The sisters' father, Joe Hutchinson also had two songs on the album, It's Not Fair and Two Lovers. Sheila sings the lead vocals on the former, which was described as an early Motown-ish type of song that could have been recorded by an artist like Mary Wells. Instead, Wanda Hutchinson is the lead singer on the deep and soulful ballad Two Lovers, one of the best moments on the debut set.

Going on Strike has a great intro and the girls used that song for year as their theme song on their concerts when they entered the stage. The song includes partly socially conscious lyrics, when Wanda claims she is going on strike - until her baby comes back from Vietnam! Not your everyday love song cliches! Wanda is the lead also on her own composition I Found My Man, a horn-laden mid-mover with a catchy melody.


Before Stax released the second album by The Emotions, the group had four non-LP singles between November 1969 and March 1971:

Stealing Love / When Tomorrow Comes (Volt 4031, 1969)
Heart Association / The Touch of Your Lips (Volt 4045, 1970)
Black Christmas / Instrumental (Volt 4053, 1970)
You Make Me Want To Love You / What You See Is What You Get (Volt 4054, 1971)


None of these are included in the brand new Anthology set by BBR, but some of the tracks are included on the CD "The Emotions: Chronicle Greatest Hits" and the aforementioned UK Ace CD compilation "Songs of Innocence and Experience... and Then Some!" (2004).

Stealing Love is a Hayes/Porter song sung by Wanda Hutchinson, featuring strings on the otherwise earthy Stax stomper. It was released in November 1969, and it reached the number 40 slot on Billboard soul chart.

The flip side When Tomorrow Comes was also mentioned separately on the Billboard charts, which referred that some of the radio DJs played more this ballad side of the single - with Sheila on lead vocals. The single did not mark any A or B side on the label, so it was treated as a double-A side single also on the charts. The songs was also composed by Hayes-Porter, and featured typical Stax production by this team.

On the next single, Heart Association, David had switched Ronnie Williams as his new producer partner, but the song was written by Vince Willis. Sheila is the lead singer on this mid-pacer which really did not sound like a hit single in my ears, yet managed to climb to the position 30 on Billboard soul charts. The flip side The Touch of Your Lips is included in the Songs of Innocence and Experience CD, and it was also written by Vince Willis. The tune sounds somwehat complicated, and lacks a clear chorus. Sheila sings the leads and Wanda and Theresa Davis sing the harmony parts. The single was recorded in July 1970.

I'm not sure whether Black Christmas was actually ever officially released, as the copies I have seen on the internet have all been promos with white label. Anyway, the song has been included on many CD compilations, including the Songs of Innocence and Experience CD. Black Christmas is a harmless seasonal Pops Staples -written tune with lyrics like "ding dong ding dong" - hardly essential single to anyone.

You Make Me Want To Love You is included in the Chronological Greatest Hits album, and this song is a Bettye Crutcher co-written song produced by David Porter and Ronnie Williams. Although the song is not among the most memorable songs written by Bettye, the track contained a nice effortless uptempo backdrop and earned the Emotions another minor hit (highest chart position #49). The group also later recorded another Bettye Crutcher -written tune Innocent, a strong horn-ladden stomper, but it was shelved and was released on the 1977 Stax album Sunshine.

The song titled What You See Is What You Get has nothing to do with the Stax smash Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get, which was a big hit for The Dramatics in the summer 1971, instead this a rather messy Porter-Williams -written uptempo tune. The backdrop had even a touch of "pshychedelic soul" that was getting popular on other labels at the same period, but this was no "message song", just an ordinary love song with some odd rocky touch.


Untouched
US Volt LP 6015, 1972
A 1) Take Me Back
2) Nothing Seems Impossible
3) Boss Love Maker
4) It's Been Fun
5) Love Ain't Easy Onesided
B 1) Blind Alley
2) Show Me How
3) If You Think It (You May As Well Do It)
4) Love Is the Hardest Thing to Find
5) Tricks Were Made for Kids
6) Boy, I Need You

The debut album by the Emotions was released in 1969, and it took three years for Stax to release the follow-up album. It also contained eleven tracks, including the A and B-sides of the group's two previous single releases; Show Me How b/w Boss Love Maker and If You Think It (You May As Well Do It) b/w Love Ain't Easy Onesided. Of these four tracks, only Show Me How charted on Billboard soul top 100, peaking at position 13 in late 1971. Show Me How is a beautiful Hayes-Porter ballad song, which was actually recorded during the So I Can Love You Sessions, but this slowly swaying beauty really earned to be released as a single, and quite deservedly earned the group their second major hit after the So I Can Love You smash.

In between the three years of the Emotions' first two albums, a number of changes had happened. First of all, Isaac Hayes had started his very succesful solo career, and thus was not avaiable no longer as the pianist, songwriter and co-producer for The Emotions. And in March 1970 Jeanette had decided to leave the group to get married, have a baby and raise a family. She was replaced by Theresa Davis, who was introduced as the cousin of the sisters, but in fact, she was unrelated.

However, on this second album, three of the tracks still included Jeanette with Sheila and Wanda, as not only Show Me How but also Love Is the Hardest Thing to Find and Nothing Seems Impossible were holdovers from the sessions of the debut album. The former is a harmless uptempo bouncer written by Hayes-Porter, whereas the latter was written by Jeanette Hutchinson. To introduce the newcomer Theresa Davis, the song was, however, recut for this album. They still used the original rhythm track, but recut the vocals, now with Theresa joining Wanda and Sheila. As the song features highly colourful vocal parts, maybe this was excellent decision to introduce the new member fo the trio.

Another song that was originally from the So I Can Love Sessions, was a funky plodder titled Blind Alley. It was recut with Theresa Davis now featured on vocals with Wanda (lead vocals) and Sheila, using the original rhythm track with Isaac Hayes still in the backgrounds, but the horn parts were overdubbed in May 1970. The song was a rare David Porter solo composition, actually quite an irresistible funky mover in the late 60s Stax style. In my ears, this sounds like a hit tune, but obviously the label bosses thought otherwise, and only lifted the song as the B-side of the group's 1972 single My Honey and Me. However, almost two decades later rapper Big Daddy Kane sampled this song on his 1988 hit Ain't No Halfsteppin!

The B-side of the new single hit was a song titled Boss Love Maker, which "our friends would make fun of us", remembers Sheila. The song was written by father Joe, but was a bit odd, musical-type of a song, and not typical Stax mover at all. Isaac Hayes was no longer involved in the production or songwriting for the group, and his partner David Porter had to find a new songwriting and producing partner. He chose Ronnie Williams as his new partner, but it was easy to hear he had not the talent of Isaac. There are only two Porter-Williams compositions on the album, If You Think It (You May As Well Do It) and Love Ain't Easy Onesided. Both of these were released on a single, with the former being the A-side and the latter the flip. There's really nothing wrong with these, Sheila sings them with her easily recognisible "crying" style, but the songs simply were not catchy enough for radio play, and the single flopped. The magic of Isaac Hayes was lacking!

It was obvious the girls now needed outside help from the usual Stax circles. Take Me Back was a song written by William Hart of the vocal group The Delfonics, with whom The Emotions had toured under the title "The battle of the bands". It really represent a new more 70s sound for the group, with a lighter and more sophisticated backdrop than the old, earthy Stax sound, but not resembling Philly soul sound.

Instead, the song entitled Tricks Were Made for Kids already took the Emotions to totally different sounds. The song was produced by the legendary Don Davis and written by Philip Mitchell. The musical backdrop was recorded in Muscle Shoals Studios, but the gils flew to Chicago to meet Don Davis and record their vocals on the Muscle Shoals track. Sheila is singing the leads in her genuinely soulful style and proved the Emotions would be perfectly at home with this kind of stylish, string coloured musical setting as well. Excellent performance from start to finish.

The final track on the second album, Boy, I Need You, was self-written by Wanda, Sheila and Theresa. It takes the girls back to the more typical Stax backdrop, with an earthy horn-laden funky rhythm.


The next single release by the Emotions after the album Untouched (1972) was My Honey and Me, which first charted on Billboard soul charts in March 1972. The single had a mention Taken from the LP, VOS-4021 "Songs of Innocence and Experience" - which was aimed to be the third Stax album by the Emotions. However, the album was never released by the label, until in 2004 Ace released the CD by the title Songs of Innocence and Experience ...and Then Some!. It contained a total of 23 tracks, including six previously unissued tracks, but for some reason the CD did NOT include all the singles that were released in 1972-1973 and that had the mention "Taken from the LP Songs of Innocence and Experience" on the label!

So I guess the best way to go forward with our story is to follow the chronological order when the songs were originally recorded, and then handle the rest of the unissued Stax songs, taken from the aforementioned CD. All of the singles (A sides) except Peace Be Still are available on the CD or vinyl album "The Emotions: Chronicle Greatest Hits".

The Emotions' Volt/Stax singles after the second album Untouched:
My Honey and Me / Blind Alley (Volt 4077, 1972)
I Could Never Be Happy / I've Fallen in Love (Volt 4083, 1972)
From Toys to Boys / I Call This Loving You (Volt 4088, 1972)
Runnin' Back (and Forth) / I Wanna Come Back (Volt 4095, 1973)
Peace Be Still / Runnin' Back (and Forth) (Volt 4100, 1973)
Put a Little Love Away / I Call This Loving You (Volt 4106, 1974)
Baby I'm Through / I Wanna Come Back (Volt 4110, 1974)
There Are More Questions Than Answers / Anyway You Look at It (Volt 4113, unreleased)
Shouting out Love / Baby I'm Through (Stax 3200, 1977)


My Honey and Me was released as a single in March 1972, and indeed the label indicated it is from the LP "Songs of Innocence and Experience", the third Emotions album that Stax never released. Then single was co-written and originally recorded by by Luther Ingram and this catchy mid-beater was produced by Jim Stewart and Al Jackson, Jr. and sung by Shirley on lead vocals. It scored on position 18 on Billboard Soul Charts. With Blind Alley from the second album as the flip side, this was a very strong single release and well worth the money.

The next single I Could Never Be Happy was clearly a departure from the classic Memphis / Stax sounds. Written and produced by Carl Hampton - Homer Banks - Raymond Jackson and co-produced by Pops Staples it was very elegant, early 70s sophisticated soul with a highly orchestrated background. I'm sure this was the kind of soul music Maurice White was highly impressed when he later signed the Emotions under his wings and hired talents like Skip Scarborough to contribute. Also the vocal arrangements are reminiscent of the group's first Columbia period - there is a glorious break with Wanda and Theresa singing the harmony parts "I could never be happy without you" and Shirley adlibbing heavily on top. Simply a superb performance and yet another top 30 hit for the group (peak # 23).


As a complete contrast, the Banks & Hampton team tried next a pop tune based on the phrase "from boys to toys". This is a kind of novelty song, with its Mickey Mouse lyrics, very 60s in style and somewhat out of context in their Stax repertoire as well. Powerful leads were sung by Wanda. On Billboard, it peaked at 37 in the early year 1973.

Year 1973 was weak for the group, the only other single was a minor hit Runnin' Back (and Forth) (only 2 weeks on the charts, peak # 91). This was another poppy effort, produced by Pops Staples, with eeny-meeny-miny-moe lyrics and nursery rhyme chorus. I can now easily understand that Stax was unwilling to complete an albumful of songs by the group. The flip I Wanna Come Back is a much more traditional soul ballad song, self-written and sung by Sheila Hutchinson, but not one of their more memorable tunes.

In 1974 it was time for The Emotions to start looking for a new record company. Stax still released two singles on the Volt label by the group, Put a Little Love Away and Baby I'm Through. The former was produced by Al Bell, William Brown and Marvell Thomas, and the pure pop song was written by Brian Potter & Dennis Lambert, originally performed by American pop singer Maureen McGovern and later covered by Sergio Mendes, before The Emotions released their own, folk-tinged version. This was certainly not the direction The Emotions' soul fans were wishing for, and I'm only glad Maurice White came to rescue the group.

Father Joe Hutchinson had written and produced the group's last Volt single Baby I'm Through which takes the group back into more soulful waters, with Shirley leading the soulful leads on this airy mid-swayer. The chart visibility was very thin, originally the song peaked at position 82 in September 1974, but in 1978, when the group had already started their succesful Columbia period, the same song reached position #59 as a B-side of their Stax single Shouting out Love.

Shouting out Love is a strongly Staple Singers -influenced performance by the group, and Wanda readily admitted in her Black Music interview with Geoff Brown that this song was "her attempt to pay vocal homage to her idol, Mavis Staples". Wanda herself did not appreciate the performance, saying "it haunts me, because it's really not good to try to sound like someone else, and I don't like it for that reason". Well, I did like it, and so did many other Emotions fans, as the single scored on position 31 on Billboard soul charts in 1977, even though everyone knew it was at least three year old.

Peace Be Still has not been included in any of the Emotions' CD compilations, and no wonder. It is originally a clip from the movie soundtrack Wattstax album "The Living Word", on which the girls perform a fiery 9 minute gospel version of the song. It was not from the open air concert but sung in the concert hall Los Angeles Colliseum. The Emotions did not perform in the main concert at all. The single version was edited to 2:54.

LATER REISSUES FROM THE STAX ARCHIVES

Although Stax never managed to put out the third album from The Emotions, material that was originally shelved have been released later, when Fantasy first bought the label in 1977, and started to dig the archives and reissue unreleased songs. Fantasy released a new album by The Emotions in 1977, by the title Sunshine, certainly against the group's own will, as they were celebrating their brand new recordings on Columbia. But their fans were happy and bought enough the Stax album to make it chart on Billboard and peak at position #39. The album was a steady seller, spending 18 weeks on Billboard Soul Album list.

Sunshine

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Sunshine
US Stax LP 4100, 1977
1) Shouting Out Love 3:13
2) Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes) 3:20
3) I Really Miss You 3:16
4) Ain't No Sunshine 4:43
5) Runnin' Back (And Fourth) 2:53
6) Anyway You Look At It 3:51
7) Baby I'm Through 4:10
8) Innocent 3:08
9) Put A Little Love Away 5:16
Bonus tracks on the CD reissue, 1994:
10) I've Fallen In Love 3:45
11) I Wanna Come Back 3:23
12) Peace Be Still 2:55
13) What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas 3:25
14) I Call This Loving You 3:05


The original vinyl album, originally recorded in 1972 but shelved at the time, and finally released in 1977, contained only nine tracks, three of which had already been released on singles during 1973-1974: Runnin' Back (And Fourth), Baby I'm Through and Put A Little Love Away. The later, 1993 CD reissue of the album contained five more tracks, including some old single releases/B-sides (I've Fallen in Love, I Call This Loving You, I Wanna Come Back and Peace Be Still, but also one previously unreleased gem, What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas.

The Ace compilation Songs of Innocence and Experience... And Then Some! from 2004 contained all 14 tracks on the Sunshine reissue CD, apart from the song Peace Be Still, which was a shortened single cut from the Wattstax soundtrack. So let's list all 23 tracks of this compilation also here:

Songs of Innocence and Experience ... and Then Some!
UK Fantasy ACE CD, 2004
The original unreleased album from material recorded in 1972-1974, amended and expanded, 6 previously unissued tracks
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1) Shouting Out Love (1977)
2) Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes) (1977)
3) I Really Miss You (1977)
4) (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right (previously unissued)
5) What You See Is What You Get (1971)
6) The Touch of Your Lips (1970)
7) There Are More Questions Than Answers (1975)
8) I Wanna Come Back (1973)
9) What Do You Do (previously unissued)
10) I Call This Loving You (1974)
11) Swearing out a Warrant (previously unissued)
12) I've Fallen in Love (1972)
13) Baby I'm Through (1974)
14 Any Way You Look at It (1977)
15) Put a Little Love Away (1974)
16) Runnin' Back (And Forth) (1977)
17) You've Got Me Going through a Thing (previously unissued)
18) Long As I've Got You (demo) (previously unissued)
19) Innocent (1977)
20) Ain't No Sunshine (1977)
21) Sombody Will If You Won't (previously unissued)
22) What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas? (1974)
23) Black Christmas (1970)


Fantasy has also printed What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas on single, and even though it has the year 1973 printed on the label, you can recognise from the new purple colour Stax label that it was released only after Fantasy had bought the label in 1977. There was an instrumental version on the flip. This track has been much celebrated later on various net forums, and with a reason. The title of the song reveals the lyrical theme, and this is indeed something else than a jolly good, joyful Christmas tune - this has been referred as "the saddest song ever written about the Season of Goodwill". Despite the tambourine driven background, Shirley delivers the heartfelt Banks & Hampton written ballad in an utterly soulful manner, and many people have commented that this is a Xmas song that sounds equally good in mid-July as in Christmas time. Indeed, one of the many peaks of the Emotions whole career.

In the liner notes of the Innocence CD, Tony Rounce reveals that the original first single from the 1977 Stax album was planned to be There Are More Questions Than Answers flipped with Any Way You Looked at It (Volt 4113), but it was replaced with Shouting out Love, certainly a wise choice. Shouting out Love was the aforementioned tribute to Mavis Staples, with Wanda imitating Mavis' style in a wonderful manner, and it earned the group a top 30 hit in between their first Columbia albums. In their interviews at the time, the sisters were more than annoyed of the "old material" disturbing their new career on Columbia, but the Emotions fans cherished the shelved Stax gems finally getting released.

Gee Whiz is Shirley's interpration of the Carla Thomas hit originally released in 1960, performed over a light piano and string-based backdrop. On the bonus tracks of the 1977 album, there was another cover of Carla Thomas, I've Falln in Love, recorded in 1972, and it was released also as a B-side of the single I Could Never Be Happy (Volt 4083) already in year 1972.

I Really Miss You was self-written by Wanda Hutchinson, which, surprisingly, has even a hint of 60s Motown feel in its arrangement. Shirley's heartfelt reading of (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right is indeed the original recording of the song that became a number one hit for Luther Ingram during summer 1972. However, it was considered too risky for the image of the girl group, and was not released until in 2004 on this Ace compilation.

Thank God the initial idea of releasing More Questions Than Answers as a single in 1977 was cancelled, as the actual tracks is a truly awkward reggae-tinged cover of a Johnny Nash song! Complete with nanana lyrics and corny chorus, it is probably the worst recorded track of the group's whole career. The flip side of the planned single release, Any Way You Look at It, is, however, much better, a Carl Smith-written delicate ballad shiningly delivered by Sheila and arranged in a modern mid-70s rich musical setting with gorgeous woodwinds.

Originally the flip side of From Toys to Boys single in 1972, I Call This Loving You is a harmless melodic midpacer written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson. Another song by the same team, Swearing out a Warrant was shelved and only saw daylight in 2004 on the Ace compilation. It is a nice percussive swayer, very different from the Stax sound. Also the Isaac Hayes-written midpacer What to Do was shelved and got released only in 2004 by Ace.

The Emotions' interpretaion of the Bill Withers classic Ain't No Sunshine has an almost bluesy tone, very different from the original recording, but a highly impressive and personal reading.

The previously unreleased tracks included some rather mediocre uptempo material like the Honey Coney-ish Somebody Will If You Won't, but also much more ambitious recordings, especially the beautiful Tony Hester-written ballad You've Got Me Going through a Thing, absolutely deliciously interpreted by Shirley. The song was performed by The Dramatics on their 1974 album Dramatically Yours, but this is an equally essential version. A YouTube pick can be listened below.



To Be Continued in the near future:
The Emotions, Part 2: The years on Columbia and later years.


Article by Ismo Tenkanen, Soul Express, editor