Wednesday, 26 April 2017

"The Brunswick Anthology" by BARBARA ACKLIN (September 2002 Brunswick 2CD Compilation - Ivan Joseph Goldberg Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...


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"…Here Is A Heart…"


Some Soul singers have a palatable sweetness to their delivery – at ease with either rapture or heartache and always capable of delivering a song performance that regularly renders even the most diehard fan weak at the knees. They make you smile. They move you pure and simple. Oakland’s Barbara Jean Acklin is one of those.

Her heyday at Brunswick Records between 1968 and 1973 has been reissued extensively in both Europe and Japan - albeit on now deleted and expensive CDs – but if you want a comprehensive one-stop that isn’t going to break the bank but still deliver on quality Remastered Audio – then 2002's "The Brunswick Anthology" has all the right curves. Here are the womanly details...

UK released September 2002 – "The Brunswick Anthology" by BARBARA ACKLIN on Brunswick BICD1002 (Barcode 5060029810221) is a 36-track 2CD set of Remasters and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (49:01 minutes):
1. Fool, Fool, Fool (Look In The Mirror) (1967 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55319, A)
2. I've Got You Baby (1967 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55355, A)
3. What The World Needs Now (Is Love Sweet Love) (from her 1968 US LP "Love Makes A Woman" on Brunswick BL 754137)
4. Come And See Me Baby (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55379, B-side to "Love Makes A Woman")
5. Love Makes A Woman (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55379, A)
6. Your Sweet Loving (1967 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55319, B-side of "Fool, Fool, Fool (Look In The Mirror)")
7. Yes I See Love (I Missed) (from her 1968 US LP "Love Makes A Woman" on Brunswick BL 754137)
8. Be By My Side (1969 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55399, B-side to "Am I The Same Girl")
9. Just Ain't No Love (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55388, A)
10. Am I The Same Girl (1969 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55399, A)
11. Here Is A Heart (from her 1969 US LP "Seven Days Of Night" on Brunswick BL 754148)
12. Mr. Sunshine (Where Is My Shadow) (from her 1969 US LP "Seven Days Of Night" on Brunswick BL 754148)
13. Seven Days Of Night (1969 USA 7" single on Brunswick 755412, B-side of "A Raggedy Ride")
14. Love Had To Come To Stay (from her 1969 US LP "Seven Days Of Night" on Brunswick BL 754148)
15. You’ve Been In Love Too Long (from the 1970 US LP "Someone Else's Arms" on Brunswick BL 754156)
16. Show Me The Way To Go (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55366, A, credited to GENE CHANDLER and BABARA ACKLIN)
17. Love Won't Start (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55366, B-side to "Show Me The Way To Go", credited to GENE CHANDLER and BABARA ACKLIN)
18. From The Teacher To The Preacher (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55387, A, credited to GENE CHANDLER and BARBARA ACKLIN)

Disc 2 (56:47 minutes):
1. Someone Else's Arms (1970 USA 7" single on Brunswick 755433, A)
2. After You (1969 USA 7” single on Brunswick 755421, A)
3. What's It Gonna Be (from her US LP "Someone Else's Arms" on Brunswick BL 754156)
4. More Today Than Yesterday (from her US LP "Someone Else's Arms" on Brunswick BL 754156)
5. Spinning Wheel (from her US LP "Someone Else's Arms" on Brunswick BL 754156)
6. I Did It (1970 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55440, A)
7. Make The Man Love You (1971 USA 7" single on Brunswick B 55447, B-side of "I Can't Do My Thing")
8. I Can't Do My Thing (1971 USA 7" single on Brunswick B 55447, A)
9. I'm Living With A Memory (1970 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55440, B-side to "I Did It")
10. Lady, Lady, Lady (1971 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55465, A)
11. I Call It Trouble (1972 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55486, A)
12. I'll Bake Me A Man (from the 1972 US LP "I Call It Trouble" on Brunswick BL 754187)
13. Portrait Of A Broken Heart (from the 1972 US LP "I Call It Trouble" on Brunswick BL 754187)
14. Stop, Look And Listen (1971 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55465, B-side of "Lady, Lady, Lady")
15. It's A Groovy Idea (from the 1972 US LP "I Call It Trouble" on Brunswick BL 754187)
16. Anywhere But Nowhere (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55387, B-side to "From The Teacher To The Preacher", credited to GENE CHANDLER and BARBARA ACKLIN)
17. Will I Find Love (1969 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55405, B-side of "Little Green Apples", credited to GENE CHANDLER and BARBARA ACKLIN)
18. Little Green Apples (1969 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55405, A, credited to GENE CHANDLER and BARBARA ACKLIN)

The functional 8-page liner notes (no name provided) give a scant few pages to Barbara’s history (born 1944 in Chicago, passed away 1998, she was married to Eugene Record of The Chi-Lites for some years) and basic track lists that can't even be bothered to offer you catalogue numbers (I've found them out myself for this review). 

But the Audio more than makes up for the lack of decent annotation. Although it doesn't say who did the transfers and remasters – if this double is based on the 2002 single-CD set "20 Greatest Hits" also on Brunswick – I'm certain the superb remastered sound comes courtesy of IVAN JOSEPH GOLDBERG who used original master tapes. Add to this the fact that Brunswick had the awesome talents of 5-time Grammy Winner BRUCE SWEDIEN as their Engineer – and classics like "Just Ain't No Love", "Love Makes A Woman" or "Am I The Same Girl" (a lyric version of "Soulful Strut" by Young-Holt Unlimited) – clobber you with truly fantastic audio quality. That backing rhythm of drums and piano punctuated by great brass fills – slinky keys – what a blast.

Across the two CDs you get all of the 7 hit entries she had on the American Billboard R&B charts – "Show Me The Way To Go" with Gene Chandler (No. 30 in March 1968), "Love Makes A Woman" (No. 3 in July 1968), "From The Teacher To The Preacher" with Gene Chandler (No. 16 in November 1968), "Just Ain't No Love" (No. 23 in December 1968), "Am I The Same Girl" (No. 33 in March 1969), "After You" (No. 30 in November 1969) and "I Did It" (No. 28 in October 1970). But the real joy for collectors here is those rare non-album B-sides running alongside choice LP cuts – the kind of stuff that rarely makes your usual compilation fodder. I'm digging ace flipsides like "Come And See Me", "Be By My Side" and "Make The Man Love You" that compliment cool album cuts like "What's It Gonna Be", the sophisticated "More Than Yesterday" from her 3rd Brunswick album "Somebody Else's Arms" and her wicked cover of the Blood, Sweat & Tears classic "Spinning Wheel" (written by Lead Singer David Clayton-Thomas).

It's also a blast to have both the famous A-side "Love Makes A Woman" nestle with its less famous B-side "Come And See Me Baby" on the same compilation – what a winning pair. Another joyous single that deserves more attention on the Northern Soul circuit is "After You" – a finger-clicking slice of pure 60ts Soul heaven. The groovy piano and organ backing that bedrocks "Just Ain't No Love" is typical of her material with Brunswick – upbeat, dancefloor friendly and irresistible. Downsides - the booklet is poor really when with a bit of effort it could have done her musical legacy the honours it deserves and Disc 1 could easily have included rare 7" singles like "A Raggedy Ride" or even a few choice album cuts from the 2nd LP "Seven Days Of Night" - but alas...

There is a single-disc 20-track variant available Stateside that I’ve also reviewed called (unimaginatively) "20 Greatest Hits". It came out February 2002 on Brunswick BRC 33011-2 (Barcode 646953301124 will locate the right issue) in the USA, runs to 59:04 minutes, has a functional 6-page inlay but more importantly enjoys that same great remastered-sound. In fact "20 Greatest Hits" is available online for less than four quid in places and would suffice if the double feels like too much of an outlay. But in truth - even as a casual buyer - I'd try to spend the few extra spondulicks – you’ll be 'so' glad you did.

It doesn’t take Mensa genius to work out that Brunswick Records housed some truly gorgeous Soul in its classy roster of artists (Jackie Wilson, Erma Franklin, Gene Chandler, Tyrone Davis and of course The Chi-Lites). And you would have to say that Barbara Acklin’s stay between 1967 and 1973 epitomises that with style.

"...Oh yes it's love...that makes a woman..." Succumb to the call people…
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