"…Sun Lights Up The Sky…" – Everything Must Change and Miss Randy Crawford by RANDY CRAWFORD
When I worked for Reckless Records in Berwick Street in Central London – Randy Crawford albums were pretty much a no-no – they had little value – and few wanted them. But in the last decade or so - as Soul Boys of all colours have started to look back to those heady days of the Seventies and early Eighties – albums by artists like Patrice Rushen and Candi Staton are getting revaluated all the time. Fans are veering away from the obvious hits and seeking out those tunes hidden in the grooves (both funk and ballad) - and Randy Crawford’s Warner Brothers output is the same.
For years her albums have languished unloved by digital reissue companies – well comes Edsel of the UK doing the job with real class and style. This is the first of four 2CD sets covering her entire output with the monster label (Volume 1 has her 1976 debut and its 1977 follow up).
Released October 2013 - here are the Smooth Soul details for Edsel EDSK 7041 (Barcode: 740155704131)…
Disc 1 (38:19 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are her debut album “Everything Must Change” – released 1976 on Warner Brothers BS 2975 in the USA. It wasn’t released until November 1980 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56328.
Disc 2 (31:37 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are her 2nd album “Miss Randy Crawford” – released 1977 on Warner Brothers BS 3083 in the USA - unreleased in the UK until February 1981 on Warner Brothers K 56882.
The outer card wrap gives the whole reissue a quality feel – as does the 20-page booklet which pictures the albums, publicity photos, track by track recording info and exceptionally detailed liner notes by Soul Expert and long-time Edsel Associate TONY ROUNCE.
The remasters by PHIL KINRADE at Alchemy are exceptionally good – but then the original production values of Stewart Levine (Everything) and Bob Montgomery (Miss) were top notch. Both records also used high-class session players like Joe Sample, Larry Carlton, Dean Parks, Jay Graydon, Eric Gale, Ralph McDonald, Don Grusin and Rick Marotta. There’s even a Flugelhorn guest spot for Hugh Masekela on "Only Your Love Lasts".
Her debut opens with a destroyer – one of two ‘live’ tracks done in front of a wildly appreciative Jazz audience and featuring The World Jazz All Star Band. First up is the gorgeous Bernard Ighner ballad “Everything Must Change” which is practically royalty when it comes to cover versions you must do for Soul singers. It’s the kind of hurting haunting melody that virtually screams the word Soul. It first turned up on a Quincy Jones album in 1974 – so Crawford was fast off the mark. The production values are fabulous - warm and tender – and it opens the whole proceedings on a real high (Lyrics from it title this review).
The other live cut is actually the album finisher - a lovely take on Nat Adderley’s “Gonna Give Lovin’ A Try”. In between are a plethora of covers – some like the funked up “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Beatles sort of work - but her take on Paul Simon’s “Something So Right” looses the delicacy that made the CBS original so special. Best of all however is the mid-tempo ballad “I Had To See You One More Time” with lyrics like "Start all your sweet talk...you do so well…" - nice.
The second album is infused with the writing talent of Paul Kelly on “I’m Under The Influence Of You” and “Take It Away From Her (Put It On Me)”. It also features its fair share of covers – Fleetwood Mac’s “Over My Head”, The Eagles’ “Desperado” and best of all – Randy’s gorgeous version of the Harry Warren/Mack Gordon standard “At Last” – spiritually owned by Etta James.
Things went stellar fro Crawford with “Now We May Begin” because The Crusaders came on board after she guested on the huge “Street Life” track in 1979. Then it was onwards to “Secret Combination” - but here is where her success story really started.
I was more than pleasantly surprised at the sheer Soulfulness of these now forgotten albums – which highlight her vocals so well.
A sweet lady – take a punt on this classy reissue…