Friday, 7 August 2009

“Face To Face With The Truth” by THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH (June 2003 Universal Music group/Gordy/Miracle Records CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Harmony Is The Key…"

"Face To Face With The Truth" was the second US album for NORMAN WHITFIELD'S band THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH in February 1972 and this June 2003 European CD remaster on Universal Music Group/Gordy/Miracle Records 067 100-2 (Barcode 044006710020) is a straightforward copy of that soul-funk peach and hard-to-find vinyl rarity.

1. You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth [Side 1]
2. What It Is?
3. Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite The World) Friendship Train
4. Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are) - [Side 2]
5. Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me
6. Don't Let Him Take Your Love From Me
7. What's Going On

The 7-track LP was originally issued February 1972 on Gordy G959L in the USA (July 1972 on Tamla Motown STMA 8004 in the UK) and this "ORIGINAL FUNK LP SERIES" CD reissue (in a card digipak) fully reproduces the original gatefold sleeve artwork and offers an 8-page booklet. Inside is a very knowledgeable and concise essay on the album by DAVID COLE - Editor of the specialist soul magazine "In The Basement".

The band depicted on the front sleeve is JOE HARRIS (lead vocals), BRENDA JOYCE EVANS and BILLIE RAE CALVIN (duet and backing vocals). Whitfield produced the album and co-wrote 5 of its 7 songs with another Motown genius BARRETT STRONG. "Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me" was first outed by Gladys Knight & The Pips while the album's closer is a 9-minute cover of Marvin Gaye's 1971 Tamla masterpiece "What's Going On". Other notable musicians are DENNIS COFFEY on Lead Guitar, EARL VAN DYKE on Piano with EDDIE BROWN on Bongo and Congo Drums.

Musically the album is typical of so many Whitfield productions - the filler tracks are fairly obvious and ok - but the killer long funky workouts are stunning. Bass starter, slinky wah-wah guitar fills, strings backed up with conga rhythms - all of it peppered with social consciousness lyrics that to this day don't sound dated. The groove takes its time to get its hooks into you and even after nine or ten minutes, it never feels like it overstayed its welcome. Joe Harris was a wonderful vocalist too - a little like Pops Staples let loose. For me the big highlight is the near nine-minute "Ungena Za Ulimwengu..." - very Isaac Hayes in its hypnotic lingering pace and build - his fabulous groove always had customers coming to the record counter asking after it (lyrics above).

It doesn't say who remastered the tapes or where it was done, but the sound is wonderfully clear and defined. It's not all great for sure, but the ones that are worth it - especially in this great sound quality - make this forgotten goody well worth your checking out. Recommended.

PS: Here's a full list of the 2003 "Original Funk LP Series" CD reissues:
(1975 US LP on Polydor, CD reissue is 065 620-2)
2. Propositions - BAR-KAYS
(1982 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 822 885-2)
3. Summertime Groove - BOHANNON
(1978 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 077 014-2)
4. Ugly Ego - CAMEO
(1978 USA LP On Chocolate City, CD reissue is 077 251-2)
5. Con Funk Shun 7 - CON FUNK SHUN
(1981 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 063 699-2)
6. Nice And Soulful - CAROLINE CRAWFORD
(1979 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 067 517-2)
7. The Gap Band - THE GAP BAND
(1979 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 063 698-2)
8. Something Special - KOOL and THE GANG
(1981 LP on De-Lite, CD reissue is 063 695-2)
(1974 LP on 20th Century, CD reissue is 063 625-2)
10. Just Outside Of Town - MANDRILL
(1973 LP on Polydor, CD reissue is 065 619-2)
11. Them Changes - BUDDY MILES [Drummer with The Electric Flag]
(1970 LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 063 693-2)
12. One Way featuring Al Hudson - ONE WAY featuring AL HUDSON
(1979 LP on MCA, CD reissue is 113 201-2)
13. What Am I Gonna Do - GLORIA SCOTT [Barry White production]
(1974 USA LP on Casablanca, CD reissue is 063 694-2)
(1975 USA LP on 20th Century, CD reissue is 063 691-2)
15. Face To Face With The Truth - THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH
(1972 LP on Gordy & Tamla Motown, CD reissue is 067 100-2)

PPS: Along with many other Soul Titles - the "Face To Face With The Truth" album finally saw CD reissue once again in 2015/2016 on 'Universal Music Group/Elemental Music'. Titles to date in that CD Reissue Series are (I've reviewed 1, 3, 8, 13 and 15):

1. Hang On In There Baby (1974 LP on MGM Records) - JOHNNY BRISTOL (Universal/Elemental 88518 - 8435395501153)
2. The Original Disco Man (1979 LP on Polydor) - JAMES BROWN (Universal/Elemental 88523 – Barcode 8435395501450)
3. Music To Make Love By (1975 LP on Chess) - SOLOMON BURKE (Universal/Elemental 88528 – Barcode 8435395501627)
4. Hot On The Tracks (1976 LP on Motown) – THE COMMODORES (Universal/Elemental 88511 – Barcode 8435395500965)
5. Breakin' Bread (1974 LP on People) – FRED (WESLEY) & THE NEW JB’S (Universal/Elemental 88522 – Barcode 8435395501252)
6. Doing It To Death (1973 LP on People) - THE JB'S [with James Brown] (Universal/Elemental 88517 – Barcode 8435395501146)
7. People...Hold On (1972 LP on Tamla) – EDDIE KENDRICKS (Universal/Elemental 88501 – Barcode 8435395500569)
8. Mother Nature's Son (1968 Stereo LP on Cadet, Charles Stepney Production) – RAMSEY LEWIS (Universal/Elemental 88504 – Barcode 8435395500590)
9. Them Changes (1970 LP on Cadet) - RAMSEY LEWIS (Universal/Elemental 88516 – Barcode 8435395501139)
10. Fire (1974 LP on Mercury) - THE OHIO PLAYERS (Universal/Elemental 88506 – Barcode 8435395500973)
11. Skin Tight (1974 LP on Mercury with 1 Bonus Track) - THE OHIO PLAYERS (Universal/Elemental 88510 – Barcode 8435395500958)
12. Get Ready (1969 LP on Rare Earth) – RARE EARTH (Universal/Elemental 88505 – Barcode 8435395500866)
13. Soulin' (1966 Stereo LP on Capitol) - LOU RAWLS (Universal/Elemental 88515 - 8435395501122)
14. Smokey (1973 LP on Tamla) – SMOKEY ROBINSON (Universal/Elemental 88503 – Barcode 8435395500583)
15. My Whole World Ended (1969 Stereo LP on Motown) - DAVID RUFFIN (Universal/Elemental 88527 – Barcode 8435395501542)
16. The Groove Governor (1970 LP on Soul) – JIMMY RUFFIN (Universal/Elemental 88513 – Barcode 8435395501108)
17. Still Waters Run Deep (1970 LP on Tamla) – THE TEMPTATIONS (Universal 88502 – Barcode 8435395500576)
18. Face To Face With The Truth (1972 LP on Gordy) – THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH (Universal/Elemental 88509 – Barcode 8435395500941)
19. Together Brothers O.S.T. (1974 2LPs on 20th Century, Single CD) – BARRY WHITE and THE LOVE UNLIMITED ORCHESTRA (Universal/Elemental 88507 – Barcode 8435395500880)

PPS: For those wishing to explore this Motown band's output more, below is an Undisputed Truth LP discography...

1. “The Undisputed Truth”, July 1971 LP on Gordy G-955L in the USA and February 1972 on Tamla Motown STML 11197 in the UK

Side 1:
You Got The Love I Need; Save My Love For A Rainy Day; California Soul; Aquarius; Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)
Smiling Faces Sometimes; We’ve Got A Way Out My Love; Since I’ve Lost You; Ain’t No Sunshine Since You’ve Been Gone; I Heard It Through The Grapevine; Like A Rolling Stone

2. “Face To Face With The Truth”, February 1972 LP on Gordy G-959L in the USA and July 1972 on Tamla Motown STMA 8004 in the UK

Side 1:
You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth; What It Is ?; Ungena Za Ulimengu (Unite The World) Friendship Train
Side 2:
Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are); Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me; Don’t Let Him Take Your Love From Me; What’s Going On

3. “Law Of The Land”, July 1973 LP on Gordy G-963L in the USA and September 1973 on Tamla Motown STML 11240 in the UK

Side 1:
Law Of The Land; Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone; Girl You’re Alright; Killing Me Softly With This Song; Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me); This Child Needs Its Father
Side 2:
Mama I Gotta Brand New Thing (Don’t Say No); Feelin’ Alright; Love And Happiness; With A Little Help From My Friends; If I Die; Walk On By

4. “Down To Earth”, September 1974 LP on Gordy G6-968S1 in the USA and January 1975 on Tamla Motown STML 11277 in the UK

Side 1:
Help Yourself; Big John Is My Name; Brother Louie; I’m A Fool For You; Our Day Will Come
Side 2:
Just You ‘N’ Me; Love And Happiness; Law Of The Land; The Girl’s Alright With Me; Save My Love For A Rainy Day

[Note: The UK LP has two extra tracks over the USA issue.
“Gonna Keep On Tryin’ Till I Win Your Love” is added as Track 6 (the last track) on Side 1, while “Let’s Go Back To Day One” is added on to Side 2 as Track 6 (again the last track).
“Gonna Keep On…” was the non-album B-side of “Mama I Got A Brand New Thing (Don’t Say No)”, a US 7” single on Gordy 7124, while “Let’s Go Back…” is unique to this issue.

5. “Cosmic Truth”, March 1975 LP on Gordy G6-970S1 in the USA and June 1975 on Tamla Motown STMA 8023 in the UK

Side 1:
Earthquake Shake; Down By The River; UFO’s; Lil’ Red Ridin’ Hood; Squeeze Me, Tease Me
Side 2:
Spaced Out; Got To Get My Hands On Some Lovin’; 1990; (I Know) I’m Losing You

6. “Higher Than High”, October 1975 on Gordy G6-972S1 in the USA and on Tamla Motown STML 12009 in The UK

Side 1:
Higher Than High; Poontang; Life Ain’t So Easy; Boogie Bump Boogie
Side 2:
Help Yourself; I’m In The Red Zone; Overload; I Saw You When You Met Her; Ma

7. “Method To The Madness”, December 1976 LP on Whitfield WH 2967 in the USA and Whitfield K 56289 in the UK

Side 1:
Cosmic Contact; Method To The Madness; Sunshine; You + Me = Love
Side 2:
Hole In The Wall; Loose; Life Ain’t So Easy; Take A Vacation From Life; Let’s Go To The Disco

8. “Smokin’”, 1979 USA LP on Whitfield WHK 3202 and Whitfield K 56497 in the UK

Side 1:
Show Time; Talkin’ To The Wind; Atomic Funk; I Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love
Side 2:
Space Machine; Tazmainian Monster; Sandman; Misunderstood

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