Tuesday, 15 April 2014

“Raw Silk / Now We May Begin” by RANDY CRAWFORD (with THE CRUSADERS) – A Review Of Her 1979 and 1980 Warner Brothers Albums - Now Reissued And Remastered Onto 2CDs By Edsel Of The UK In 2013…



This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:


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"…Tender Falls The Night…" – Raw Silk and Now We May Begin by RANDY CRAWFORD (featuring THE CRUSADERS)


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 late 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. Here are the velveteen details For Edsel EDSK 7042 (released October 2013)…

Disc 1 (45:27 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 11 are her 3rd solo album “Raw Silk” – released June 1979 on Warner Brothers BSK 3283 in the USA and on Warner Brothers K 56592 in the UK.
It peaked at 63 on the US R&B charts (not in the UK) and was reissued in May 1982 in the UK after the success of the “Secret Combination” album

Disc 2 (37:02 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 8 are her 4th solo “Now We May Begin” – released May 1980 on Warner Brothers BSK 3421 in the USA and on Warner Brothers K 56791 in the UK. It peaked at 30 in the American R&B charts and became her first charted LP in the UK at Number 10.

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 Stephen Goldman for “Raw Silk” and The Crusaders for “Now We May Begin” were top notch anyway – uber high class and soulful. Superlative musicians abound - Leon Pendarvis and Don Grusin on Keyboards, Abraham Laboriel and Will Lee on Bass, John Tropea and Greg Poree on Guitars with Rick Marotta and Joe Pocarro on Drums and Percussion…and the fabulous Crusaders (Joe Sample, Wilton Felder and Stix Hooper) adding their stardust to all of “Now We May Begin”.

The Sound is gorgeous on both albums – giving the quieter tracks off “Raw Silk” like the beautiful cover of the Bert Williams Traditional “Nobody” and Allen Toussaint’s “Declaration Of Love” a clarity they never had before. It’s a patchy album for me – but having said that I’d forgotten how good her re-working of Marvin Gaye’s acidic love song is – “Just To Keep You Satisfied” – a top rediscovery.

Things went stellar with “Now We May Begin” because The Crusaders came on board after she guested on the huge “Street Life” track in 1979. In fact Warners pumped out no less than 5 of its 8 album cuts as singles (As & Bs) – and most charted too – “One Day I’ll Fly Away” becoming almost signature for her. But what I wanted this reissue for is the 7 Joe Sample/Will Jennings songs – the stunning strings and Dean Parks’ guitar slink of “Now We May Begin” – love it – love it (definitely a forgotten groove and nugget). But despite all that famous band overshadowing – the one song on here that always got me is her own lone composition “Tender Falls The Rain” which ended up being B-side material for three releases. It’s gorgeous Soul (lyrics from it title this review).  

She would go on to real album brilliance with “Secret Combination” – but here is where her success story really started. A sweet lady – take a punt on this classy reissue…

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