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Soul Express CD Review

Melba Moore: What a Woman Needs CD
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What a Woman Needs
US Funky Town Grooves, 2011
The original release on EMI America 1981

Let's Stand Together / Your Sweet Lovin' / What A Woman Needs / Take My Love / Overnight Sensation / Each Second / Piece Of The Rock / Let's Go back To Lovin' / Take My Love (edit of 12") / Just You, Just Me

EMI reissued this album back in 2004 and it soon disappeared and started commanding high prices online. This set is my fave of Melba Moore... simply superb and is more than deserving of a sooner-rather-than-later re-dusting off – and this time with some essential bonus material! The quality is superb. The message is clear with CD reissues, and let’s not beat about the bush. It doesn’t matter how slick the packaging is if the material isn’t from master tape but from ripping of vinyl then do NOT bother as yes, you CAN tell, and it offends me as a consumer and pays no homage to the artist and their work. Funky Town Grooves have got this 80s reissue market licked and no-one can complain at the quality of sound here. The cool, warm, sophisticated tracks as laid down here are magnificently presented and sound as great today as they did in 1982 when this set was first released. If a job’s worth doing then it’s worth doing well, and to hear albums like this lovingly re-crafted for today’s discerning soul fan is a real treat.

However much I love Melba’s later work for Capitol (I adore “The Other Side Of The Rainbow”!) I prefer this more live style – a style that hopefully is making a return today. The album cannot be faulted in my book, and the anthemic opening cut “Let’s Stand Together” may hark back to an earlier highlight of McFadden & Whitehead’s but it’s no better a slice of positive uptempo early 80s soul that you are likely to find and if you’re on a bit of a downer it’s sure to get the feet tapping.

The more 80s sounding “What A Woman Needs” merges the new synthy sound with a 70s sensibility perfectly... Bruce Hawes and Patrick Adams working perfectly together and Melba coming across in a very sexy Minnie Riperton fashion... does soul music actually get better than this? Possibly not!

Again, this formula works wonders on the timeless midtempo groove of “What A Woman Needs” and the killer funky bassline and dreamy keys of “Each Second” has Melba more strident and cautionary against a fickle lover. “Piece Of The Rock” adds extra bounce to the album and gorgeously lilts along. Where is the warm sunshine today when we need it, hmm? We had it yesterday! Should have played this then! Kashif’s blinding 80s productions cannot be faulted and his inclusion “Take My Love” appears on this special expanded CD release with an edited 12” version. Totally classy and reminds us – not that we need it – of how wonderfully vibrant, expressive and fun the 80s was. Musically at any rate! The other essential extra is the no-album cut “Just You, Just Me” which owes a lot to Rod Temperton’s style of the time. You cannot fault this album and to have it on an Expanded CD from master tapes...oh yes indeed! By the way, the sun is coming out!

-Barry Towler

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