multi-track sessions mixed by Steve Levine”, we are treated to twelve
songs recorded between 1971 and ’78, when Millie Jackson was at the height of
her career and kept releasing truly soulful singles and concept albums on
Spring Records. In the notes Steve explains that “I’ve tried to keep my
remixes true to the original artistic vision and spirit that the producers and
engineers used on the original recordings.” Actually there’s an over
half-an-hour-long video of Steve telling about this project in detail: https://www.soul-source.co.uk/articles/news-soul/video-steve-levine-talking-millie-jackson-exposed-r3847.
Besides Steve, in the notes also Tony Rounce writes about Millie’s
career and her music.
Among the five
charted singles on this set there are two down-tempo and three up-tempo songs.
The rollicking My Man, a Sweet Man became Millie’s biggest dancer, although
she wasn’t too crazy about the song in the first place. “That’s because I had
a staff producer Raeford Gerald, who was a complete Motown fanatic.” That
was Millie’s answer to my question, why did they release such simple dancers
after an impressive and thought-provoking ballad titled A Child of God (not
included here) a year before. The other two charted dancers here are Bad
Risk and Boney M’s Never Change Lovers in the Middle of the Night.
In 1973 Millie’s
powerful performance of It Hurts So Good turned into the biggest hit of
her career. This ballad was written by Phillip Mitchell and first cut
by Katie Love, and now Millie’s producer was Brad Shapiro. “They
brought him in, because they were tired of the Motown sound and I was tired of
it, too. So they brought him in for to try and get a more soulful sound. It
was between him and Don Davis.” The second charted deep ballad on the
set is Millie’s version of If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want to be Right),
but here in the remix I find the echo effect on Millie’s vocals somewhat
strange and uncomfortable. Both It Hurts So Good and If Loving You
Is Wrong were recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, where from now on she
cut most of her records up to 1981.
As Steve points
out, the innovative production and arrangement of the third great soul ballad
on this CD called I Cry bears a resemblance to Norman Whitfield’s
work in the early 1970s. The rest of the tracks on the set are not the most
obvious choices, but more mid-tempo poppy numbers - Kiss You all Over,
originally by Exile, and I’ll Continue to Love You – or dancers
like Help Yourself and House for Sale, which actually is closest
to disco here and written by Homer Banks and Carl Hampton.
>Closest to funk are Go Out and Get some
and a duet with Isaac Hayes named Sweet Music, Soft Lights and You.
“I called the company to let me use the song (You Needed Me, not here)
for a duet with Joe Simon. I don’t know why, but Joe didn’t do the
song. So I looked down the roster to see who else I can do it with --- that’s
it, Isaac Hayes, the two rappers, we’re perfect!”
that “I’ve been a fan of Millie Jackson’s recordings since I was a teenager in
the early 1970s.” Millie is also one of my idols, and - although my choice of
songs would have been different - it’s always a pleasure to listen to her
music, and especially now after “restoring some of these sessions to their