Saturday, 26 September 2015

"Gonna Make You An Offer: The Complete Cube Recordings 1972-1975" by JIMMY HELMS (2015 Cherry Red Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Lady Blue..." 

Essentially a one-hit wonder in the UK in late February 1973 – Florida Soul Singer Jimmy Helms didn't seem to be able to capitalise on his No. 8 hit – but man what a tune. Even now that opening falsetto (any higher and we might worry about the tightness on his spandex trousers) is pure Seventies Soul joy. And while the rest of this jam-packed CD doesn't quite climb those lofty heights – it still has much to enjoy and recommend (including two previously unreleased songs – one a very cool unheard Biddu cover). So - with its title inspired by the persuasive words of Don Vito Corleone in "The Godfather" movie of 1972 ("...I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse...) - here is a great mumbling mouthful of reissue details...

UK released Friday, 25 September 2015 (October 2015 in the USA) – "Gonna Make You An Offer...The Complete Cube Recordings 1972-1975" by JIMMY HELMS on Cherry Red Records CDMRED667 (Barcode 5013929166738) breaks down as follows (78:35 minutes);

1. So Long Love
2. Dream Merchant – tracks 1 & 2 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7" single on Cube Records BUG 21 in July 1972

3. Gonna Make You An Offer You Can't Refuse
4. Words And Music – tracks 3 & 4 are the A&B-sides of the original UK 7" single on Cube Records BUG 27 released 2 February 1973 (peaked at No. 8 on the UK charts in late February). It was issued on MGM Records K 14540 in the USA with the same B.
[Note: In certain European territories "Gonna Make You An Offer You Can't Refuse" had the non-album "Lady Blue" [19] as its B-side – it was also used in Europe as the B-side to 1974's "There'll Be Another Night". The song "Gonna Make You An Offer You Can't Refuse" was reissued twice in the UK on Cube Records after 1973. October 1975 on Cube Records BUG 60 with 2 tracks on its B-side – "So Long Love" [1] and "There'll Be Another Night" [10] – and January 1984 on Cube Records BUG 98 with "Words And Music" [4] on the flip.]

5. Jack Horner's Birthday
6. What'll I Do With My Mind - tracks 5 & 6 are the A&B-sides of his 3rd UK 7" single on Cube Records BUG 30 in May 1973

7. I'll Take Good Care Of You
8. Fly Away - tracks 7 & 8 are the A&B-sides of his 4th UK 7" single on Cube Records BUG 33 in October 1973

9. When Can Brown Begin
10. There'll Be Another Night - tracks 9 & 10 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7" single on Cube Records BUG 36 in February 1974

Fans can sequence his 1975 UK album "Gonna Make You An Offer!" on Cube Records HIFLY 21 (reissued in March 1978 with the same catalogue number) using the following CD track numbers (including 11 to 18):

Side 1
1. Gonna Make You An Offer You Can't Refuse [3]
2. Brother Sunshine [11]
3. It Don't Matter To Me [12]
4. Could It Be Love [13]
5. And I Don't Wanna Lose You [14]
6. Jack Horner's Holiday [5]
Side 2
1. When Can Brown Begin [9]
2. Live My Life [15]
3. Like Sister And Brother [16]
4. Pretty Faces [17]
5. Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer [18]

19. Lady Blue – non-album B-side to "Gonna Make You An Offer You Can't Refuse" in many European territories in 1973.

20. The Poor Side Of Town
21. Come On Down – tracks 19 and 20 are Previously Unreleased - 20 is a Biddu cover, 21 is writer unknown

ANDY DAVIS takes a good stab at the career of this lesser appreciated Soul singer in the pleasingly indepth 12-page booklet – bolstered up by recent interviews with both the artist and his Writer/Producer – John Worth. There are photos of chart placing and DJ notes, various European picture sleeves and even a fetching Cube Records publicity still. The Audio is fabulous – digital transfers handled by ROB KEYLOCH and Remasters by SIMON MURPHY at Another Planet Music. Every song sounds wonderful – full of life and properly good Production values.

Throughout this compilation you hear the songwriting hand of JOHN WORTH who not only penned the mighty "Gonna Make You An Offer You Can't Refuse" (inspired by Marlon Brando's mumbled line in "The Godfather" movie) but also stumped up Tracks 1, 5, 10, and 19. Helms wrote Tracks 2, 4, 6, 8, 11 and 13 and co-wrote tracks 14, 15 and 17 with MIKE MORAN. The others are covers – "I'll Take Good Care Of You" written by Jerry Ragovoy & Bert Berns for Garnet Mimms, "When Can Brown Begin" written by Jimmy Webb, "It Don't Matter To You" written by David Gates of Bread, "Like Brother And Sister" written by Geoffrey Stephens, Roger Greenaway & Roger Cook for The Drifters while "Never Dreamed You'd Leave Me In Summer" is a Stevie Wonder cover. Interesting amongst their number is "The Poor Side Of Town" – an unheard Biddu Appiah song.

The melodrama of "So Long Love" is a little too close to Tony Orlando schmaltz for comfort – better is the Helms penned flipside "Dream Merchant". Even now the truly gorgeous "Gonna Make You An Offer You Can't Refuse" sends a chill up my spine – the kind of song that instantly transports you back to Saturday Nights in sweaty dancehalls - looking and longing on the sideline for that girl that's just out of reach. The lyrics still amazingly poignant - "...Now I'm putting about the fevered word...what must be must be...didn't you know you belong to me..." – genius. It's rarely heard British B-side “Words And Music" is good but left in the dust by the A. Better is the Euro flip "Lady Blue". His fabulous falsetto vocals lift "Jack Horner's Holiday" into something really sweet while the Funky flip "What'll I Do With My Mind" is a bit of a discovery. His cover of Garnet Mimms' "I'll Take Good Care Of You" is a very clever choice – the kind of torch ballad that suits his pleading vocals - while equally surprisingly is the top quality of his own "Fly Away" on the flipside.

"When Can Brown Begin" finally sees him inject something of his true self into a tune – a Jimmy Webb plea for racial equality. Helms' vocals are heartfelt and beautiful – the lovely remaster highlighting the soft guitars and piano accompaniment. "...If white is right and black is beautiful...tell me people...when can brown begin..." Of the album tracks the keyboard funk of "Could It Be Love" impresses while the Stevie Wonder cover of "Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer" is a gorgeous song anyway. But I wasn't expecting the Soulful strings of "The Poor Side Of Town" to be so good – a Previously Unreleased studio recording of a Biddu song – something that may indeed end up on a Northern Soul compilation soon.

It's not all Soul genius for sure – but those JIMMY HELMS nuggets inbetween the cracks are worth seeking out. And well done to all at Cherry Red for getting these forgotten Soul sides out there once again...

This review and hundreds more like it are available in my SOUNDS GOOD Music Books Series available to download (over 2000 e-Pages worth) in my SOUL, FUNK and JAZZ FUSION Book at the following link...

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