"…Get Ready For The Best Time In Your Life…"
After initial backing-vocals with Aretha Franklin in 1974 on her superb “Let Me In Your Life” LP for Atlantic and co-writing Ben E King’s Soul smash “Supernatural Thing” in 1975 (again on Atlantic) – Gwen Guthrie went on for several years doing just that – working sessions (Sister Sledge and Luther Vandross among others). She then had her own composition “God Don’t Like Ugly” featured on the huge “Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway” LP in 1979 (Gwen returns to it here for her own version).
A chance meeting with Peter Tosh’s friends, producers and backing band – Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare – made the trio friends. After more session work with the boys in the famous Compass Point Recording Studios in Nassau in the Bahamas – Sly and Robbie began in early 1982 on what would become her rather lovely and chipper debut LP - “Gwen Guthrie”. And that’s where this first-time-on-CD peach comes in…
Released March 2008 in the UK, PTG/Vinyl Masterpiece PTG 34046 breaks down as follows (51:27 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 8 are the vinyl album “Gwen Guthrie” released in the USA in September 1982 on Island 90004-1 and in the UK on Island ILPS 9699. It was produced by Sly and Robbie (who also played Drums, Bass, Percussion and Piano) and featured a host of other guest musicians…
WALLY BADEROU on Keyboards
STICKY THOMPSON on Percussion
MIKEY CHUNG plays guitar on “Is This Love?”, “God Don’t Like Ugly” and “Your Turn To Burn”
DARRYL THOMPSON plays guitar on “It Should Have Been You”, “Getting Hot” and “For You (With A Melody Too)”
MONTE BROWN plays guitar on “Getting Hit”, “Dance Fever” and “Peek-A-Boo”
Tracks 9 and 10 are bonuses:
Track 9 is a version of the Darryl Thompson penned dancefloor stepper “It Should Have Been You” which was released on a 12” single in advance of the album on both sides of the pond. The 'remix' has been done by Paradise Garage DJ LARRY LEVAN - which extends the album cut from 4:21 to 7:05 minutes.
Track 10 is ‘Extended 12” Version’ of the 2nd single from the album “Peek-A-Boo” – which extends the album cut from 4:23 to 6:26 minutes
The gatefold slip of paper that is the inlay has knowledgeable notes by VINCE ALETTI but it’s hardly something to write home about (not even a catalogue number mentioned). It’s a shame there wasn’t more pictures used – those tasty Island 12” singles maybe. But that’s quickly forgiven by the sound quality…
Although it doesn’t state who remastered what or where, the copyright date is Island Records 1982 so we’re presuming the original tapes were used because the sound quality is fabulous – really clean and full of punch (without being overly done). Being a 1980’s production, the dreaded drum machine 'feel' appears sporadically, but mostly it sounds great – and not nearly as dated as you might think.
The album has a real ‘up’ feel – the obvious dancefloor fillers like “Peek-A-Boo”, “Dance Fever” and the ever popular “It Should Have Been You” are offset against lovely laid-back melodies like “For You (With A Melody Too)” and the lyrically biting “God Don’t Like Ugly”. But for me there’s a lethal double-whammy that segue into each other – “Getting Hot” and “Your Turn To Burn”. The opening flicking guitar and drums of the infectious “Getting Hot” (lyrics above) is about as good as Eighties Disco-Soul gets – a sort of irresistible Kool & The Gang vibe and vocal. It then slinks into the bass-funky-soul of “Your Turn To Burn” and you’re already won over. It’s not all genius of course – the cover of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love?” is not something I’ll be playing again soon. Still - you keep coming back to the steppers – lovely stuff – and more than a few of them too.
Gwen sadly died of cancer in 1999 in the USA aged only 48 – but has since seen a renaissance of interest in her overlooked Eighties output.
"Gwen Guthrie" is a confident and cool album that still stands up to this day – and this Vinyl Masterpiece reissue of it onto CD does the lady proud.
Nice one boys - recommended.