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Change: Sharing Your Love CD
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Sharing Your Love

Atlantic (1982) reissue by Big Break Records (UK, 2011)

1) The Very Best In You 2) Hard Times 3) Oh What A Night 4) Promise Your Love 5) Everything And More 6) Sharing Your Love 7) Take You To Heaven 8) Keep On It 9) You're My Number 1 10) You're My Girl

Bonus tracks:
11) The Very Best In You (Extended Version) 12) Hard Times (It's Gonna Be Allright) (Single Version) 13) Sharing Your Love (Single Version) 14) Oh What a Night (Extended Version) 15) The Very Best in You (Extended Version)

Soul/disco group Change was a kind of Italian counterpart of Chic. Whereas Chic was virtually a studio group masterminded by producers Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the two producers behind Change were Jacques Fred Petrus and Mauro Malavasi. The personnel on each Chic or Change record varied from album to album, but both bands used first class American musicians and singers during the recording sessions, and especially the background singers were often same vocalist both on Chic and Change albums.

In hindsight, I would say that Change was more soul oriented and Chic was more disco oriented of these two soul/disco groups. Also, it seemed that Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards rather picked more faceless female singers for their lead singers, as the vocal parts were not the main thing on their music, whereas Malavasi and Petrus favoured powerful, soulful male vocalists for the the lead vocals. Luther Vandross was the featured male singer on the first album by Change, and James Robinson was at least equally brilliant lead singer on the next two albums. All in all, Change released six albums:
The Glow of Love (1980)
Miracles (1981)
Sharing the Love (1982)
This Is Your Time (1983)
Change of Heart (1984)
Turn on Your Radio (1985)

UK label Big Break Records has now reissued the last 4 Change albums, originally released in 1982-1985. Hopefully they are able to reissue also the first two at some stage, since especially the second set Miracles is my personal favourite of the six, and it's currently unavailable in CD format. It has been reissued both in U.S. and Italy, but at the moment over 250 UK pounds is asked for a used copy!

This Sharing the Love, the third album by Change, has been available on CD format formerly only in Italy, so it's a very welcome reissue by BBR. The lineup of the group on this album included the magnificient James Robinson on lead vocals, Deborah Cooper as the female lead singer, Timmy Allen on bass, Mike Campbell on guitar, Vincent Henry on sax & guitar, Jeff Bows on keyboards and Rick Galway on percussion. The guest musicians featured Kashif, Yogi Horton, Buddy Williams, Hiram Bullock, Ira Siegel, Dave Tofani and Randy Brecker. The backing singers included Fonzi Thornton, Norma Jean Wright, Johnny Kemp, Leroy Burgess, Jocelyn Brown and Phillip Ballou.

With this kind of an all-stars lineup, it was no wonder Italian producers Malavasi & Petrus could easily create also very soulful tracks, although the focus was still on club dance sounds. But in 1982, the overall sounds were already getting more synthetic, and both Chic and Change tried to update their sounds to fulfil the demands of the current radio format. It was no longer happy disco with catchy chants with handclaps and hooky guitar and bass lines. Everyone was trying to keep up with the trends, and trying to modify the sounds to more synthetic, urban sounds.

And reading the liner notes where the musiciancs featured on the album are interviewed, everyone seems to agree that the end result was not a very consistent album. Even the single hits released from this album, The Very Best In You and Hard Times were only moderate hits, the former peaking at position 16 and the latter at 71. James Robinson still sounds great on the album, but he does not get gems like Your Move on their previous set to show off his truly terrific vocalising. The single pick The Very Best In You is a very nice, relaxed mid-swayer and enjoyable reading by Robinson, but not a timeless masterpiece by any means. The follow-up single Hard Times is an edgy, synthetic funker with Chic-like short vocal lines, but lacked all the immediacy needed for dance hits.

James Robinson is the impressive lead singer also on the more pop-oriented mid-tempo tune Promise Your Love and the Chic-influenced mover You Are My Number 1, which was co-written by Leroy Burgess. Still, the prime track for Robinson is the ballad tune self-written by him, the title track Sharing Your Love, on which he sounds a lot like James Ingram. But maybe this was simply too adult-oriented music for Change, which was a band that was expected to perform club-oriented soul and dance music. James Robinson later (in 1987) recorded a solo album on Tabu, but it did not chart.

Robinson and Deborah Cooper duet the movie theme type of adult ballad Everything and More.

The club tracks on the album are not bad, but they were not hooky or dynamic enough to create greater buzz among DJ's and club-goers. Take You to Heaven tries to emulate the Kashif sound of the period, and Kashif is actually featured as the keyboardist on the album. Former Breakwater keyboardist Kae Williams has written a track titled Keep on It, another harmless jogger without any outstanding feature. The album closes with a slow-paced creeper You're My Girl, again with Robinson's suberb vocals, but not a very memorable tune.

As a whole, an album featuring a wonderful cast of musicians and singers, but the tunes did not contain any absolute gems. Nevertheless, great vocals and very listenable stuff from start to finish.

-Ismo Tenkanen

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