Saturday, 8 February 2014

“Sweet Soul Music - 24 Scorching Classics From 1975”. A Review Of The February 2014 BEAR FAMILY CD - Volume 15 of 15 In a Yearly Series Covering 1960 to 1975 - All With Stunning Sound Quality, Huge Playing Times and Deluxe Presentation.

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:


“...Go Sister Go...”

I reviewed the preceding 10 volumes in this incredible series from 1961 to 1970 (probably the best Bear has ever done) and loved them to distraction. Jurgen Crasser was the remaster engineer for those. This time around (1971 to 1975) the sound hero on all five volumes bears the unlikely moniker of WOLFGANG MANNS. And I swear I may have to get “Wolfgang Is My Main Mann” tattooed on my frumpy Irish buttocks - because these expertly crafted CD compilations are sonically sensational in every way. They’re going to blow the minds of Seventies Soul fans everywhere. Here’s the necessary for “1975”...

Released 14 February 2014 on Bear Family BCD 16885 AS (Barcode 5397102168857) - the CD compilation “Sweet Soul Music - 24 Scorching Classics From 1975” breaks down as follows 
(86:10 minutes):
  1. Lady Marmalade - LABELLE (Epic 8-50048)
  2. Supernatural Thing, Part 1 - BEN E. KING (Atlantic 45-3241)
  3. Walking In Rhythm - THE BLACKBYRDS (Fantasy F-736)
  4. Love Won’t Let Me Wait - MAJOR HARRIS (Atlantic 45-3248)
  5. Rockin’ Chair - GWEN McCRAE (Cat 1996)
  6. Shining Star - EARTH, WIND and FIRE (Columbia 3-10090)
  7. Shackin’ Up - BARBARA MASON (Buddah BDA 459-N)
  8. Give The People What They Want - THE O’JAYS (Philadelphia International ZS7 3565)
  9. The Hustle - VAN McCOY and THE SOUL CITY SYMPHONY (Avco AV-4653)
  10. Keep The Home Fires Burnin’ - LATIMORE (Glades 1726)
  11. Slippery When Wet - THE COMMODORES (Motown M 1338F)
  12. This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) - NATALIE COLE (Capitol 4109)
  13. Fight The Power, Part 1 - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (T-Neck ZS8 2256)
  14. How Long (Betcha’ Got A Chick On The Side) - THE POINTER SISTERS (Blue Thumb BTA-265)
  15. Do It Any Way You Wanna - PEOPLE’S CHOICE (TSOP ZS8 4769)
  16. It Only Takes A Minute - TAVARES (Capitol 4111) 
  17. Loving Arms - MILLIE JACKSON (Spring SPR 161)
  18. Full Of Fire - AL GREEN (Hi 5N 2300)
  19. Love Rollercoaster (Single Edit) - OHIO PLAYERS (Mercury 73734)
  20. Love Machine, Part 1 - THE MIRACLES (Tamla T 54262F) 
  21. Sweet Thing - RUFUS featuring CHAKA KHAN (ABC Records ABC-12149)
  22. Hold Back The Night - THE TRAMMPS (Buddah BDA-507)
  23. Turning Point - TYRONE DAVIS (Dakar DK 4550)
  24. Boogie Fever - THE SYLVERS (Capitol 4179)
The three-way fold-out card digipak of the preceding 10 volumes has been kept as has the  live-on-stage Jackie Wilson photo on the spine that is now extended (when you line all 15 spines they make one photograph). This “1975” set features THE POINTER SISTERS on the front cover while the stock 7” of “The Hustle” by VAN McCOY graces the inside flap with a further photo of the lady threesome LABELLE in wild concert garb on the center lip. The detachable booklet is properly beautiful - a 76 oversized-pages wad of deep liner notes by world-renowned R'n'B and Soul expert BILL DALH with Discography info by DAVE “Daddy Cool” BOOTH. There’s black and white/colour publicity pictures of the artists (hairy chests, large-brim white hats and patch-inlaid elephant flares ahoy), the single labels/album covers and adverts from the US music press. Quality all the way...

As you can see from the catalogue numbers provided above all tracks are US 7” singles and proceedings open in stunning form with Labelle’s irrepressable “Lady Marmalade”. The crystal clear sound quality continues with a double slinky - “Supernatural Thing” and Walking In Rhythm” - but slows down into the bedroom panting of Major Harris being a naughty boy in “Love Won’t Let Me Wait”. Things pick up considerably with Gwen McCrae’s brilliant “Rockin’ Chair” - a tune I've loved for decades - and at last lifted out of former muddiness with a new coat of aural paint. 

Genius choices come in three forms - the talking nosey-neighbors “Shackin’ Up” by Barbara Mason while Latimore’s “Keep The Home Fires Burnin’” is superlative funk. Equally cool in our trio is the wah-wah guitars and chunky bass of “How Long...” by The Pointer Sisters combining with some great string arrangements to deliver a fabulous builder. Even Van McCoy’s over-played “The Hustle” sounds transformed as does the happy Natalie Cole movie-favorite “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)”. 
The bopping “Do It Any Way You Wanna” by People’s Choice (written by Leon Huff) contrasts nicely with the barroom Tom Waits impassioned moan of Millie Jackson’s “Loving Arms” in beautiful sound quality. And how good is to hear Al Green sound full-on in your speakers instead of the clamped-down production values we’ve been used to. The Miracles' “Love Machine” is bound to bring out the Afro in you while “Sweet Thing” will bring out the Julio Iglesias bedroom eyes - both stunning in their transfers. 

It goes out with three popular dancers - the fantastically upbeat “Hold Back The Night” by The Trammps (covered by so many) and the “I used to stay out all night long...” of “Turning Point” by Trone Davis on Dakar (sounding lovely) with the future of Disco finishing it all off - “Boogie Fever” by The Sylvers. 

I had honestly thought that this Volume from 1975 would be the weakest - but if anything it’s as brilliant as the 1971 set - a superlative mix of the familiar and lesser-heard - all properly handled by people who care about sound quality. And check out that eye-watering total playing time - 86:10 minutes - God God Y’all Indeed! 

These sets have been a long time coming but man have they been worth the wait. I know long-term Soul fans will look at the track list and price and perhaps baulk at duplicity and cost - DON’T. You’ve not heard these classics and undergrounds until now. And if you’ve any joy for Seventies Soul - then you need to have this volume and the other four compilations in your life -because GLORIOUS is the word that comes to mind. These are already my reissues of the year for 2014. 

The mighty Bear Family folks - accept no less.

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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