In recent days, we’ve turned the spotlight on a quartet of classic soul reissues, two each from Big Break Records (Arthur Prysock’s All My Life and Caston and Majors’ self-titled Motown album) and SoulMusic Records (Nancy Wilson’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You/Now I’m a Woman and Jerry Butler’s Love’s on the Menu/Suite for the Single Girl). But those are hardly the only recent releases from these two imprints of the Cherry Red Group.
Big Break has offered two titles, both from 1979 and both with ties to legendary southern soul incubator Malaco Records and Florida’s TK Records. Anita Ward became an overnight sensation thanks to the success of her debut LP, Songs of Love. The No. 8 Pop/No. 2 R&B smash yielded the all-time disco classic “Ring My Bell,” written by Frederick Knight (“I’ve Been Lonely for So Long”). Cut at Jackson, Mississippi’s Malaco Studios and released on Knight’s Juana label – part of Henry Stone’s T.K. Records family – “Ring My Bell” ascended Ward to the pantheon of so-called “one hit wonders.” But Songs of Love offers so much more, with an emphasis not on disco floor-fillers but rather on the beguiling ballads that make the title so apropos. Ward’s Deniece Williams-like vocal instrument shines on this set produced by Knight and with songwriting contributions from the great Sam Dees. Single versions of “Ring My Bell” and “Make Believe Lovers” have been appended.
Fern Kinney’s Groove Me wasn’t only recorded at Malaco, but was also first issued on the Malaco label. Jackson native Kinney scored a No. 54 Pop/No. 26 R&B/No. 6 Disco hit with the title track, a disco update of King Floyd’s 1971 funky admonition. Like Anita Ward, Fern Kinney was an unfortunate victim of the disco backlash as the 1970s made way for the 1980s, but Groove Me has aged well. “Together We Are Beautiful,” the U.S. B-side to another King Floyd cover (“Baby Let Me Kiss You”) was a U.K. A-Side, and even hit pole position there. The diverse album sequence also includes a revival of the smoldering Sylvia Robinson hit “Pillow Talk” and the nearly-country style “Sun, Moon and Rain.” (Kinney had actually worked with Nashville’s legendary producer Billy Sherrill while a member of The Poppies.) A generous seven bonus tracks have been added to BBR’s reissue, including duets with Frederick Knight on Paul Davis’ “Sweet Life” and Knight’s own “Tonight’s the Night.”
Both BBR titles have been remastered by Nick Robbins and include new liner notes from J. Matthew Cobb. Hit the jump to check out two more vintage releases from the SoulMusic label!
Earlier this year, SoulMusic reissued Stephanie Mills’ 1984 Casablanca release I’ve Got the Cure, her third release for the label. With the reissue of Merciless, the label travels back to 1983 and her second Casablanca LP. Whereas Cure was synthesizer-driven pop with a funk overlay from producer George Duke, Merciless was a more eclectic affair with production from the late, great Phil Ramone, and Gary Klein and David Wolfert for Charles Koppelman’s Entertainment Company. Studios on both coasts were employed, and familiar musicians such as Greg Phillinganes, Richard Tee and Michael Sembello show up in the credits. Mills opened the album with Prince’s “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” and also recorded Paul Jabara’s “Eternal Love,” recorded the same year by the pre-fame Whitney Houston. Luther Vandross supplied “My Body,” and Mills and Sembello were among the writers of “His Name is Michael.” The No. 12 R&B/No. 104 Pop album has been reissued with two bonus tracks: “Hold Me Close to You” from the soundtrack of All the Right Moves, and the club mix of the album’s “Pilot Error.” Kevin L. Goins penned the new liner notes, and Alan Wilson handled remastering chores.
1981’s Going for the Glow teamed vocalist Donna Washington with hitmaking producer Chuck Jackson (Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole). Her second Capitol Records set, Glow is likely best-remembered for the U.S. Top 30 hit “’Scuse Me While I Fall in Love,” co-written by David Lasley and…Luther Vandross! Lasley also penned “I See Home” with Allee Willis, while Willis shared writing duties with David Jenkins and Cory Lerios on “I Want You Tonight.” Brenda Russell, co-writer with Willis of the Broadway musical The Color Purple, wrote the title song “Going for the Glow,” as well as “It’s Something” with David Foster. And Jackson himself composed “Save Your Love for Me” with his associate producer Tony Coleman. Despite all this A-list talent, the album stalled at No. 53 R&B. This lost pop-soul gem, with influences ranging from disco to gospel, boasts new liner notes from Charles Waring and one bonus track, the single version of “’Scuse Me While I Fall in Love.” It’s been remastered by Alan Wilson.
All four titles are available now and can be ordered by clicking on the links below!
Anita Ward, Songs of Love (Juana JU-200,004, 1979 – reissued Big Break CDBBR 0215, 2013)
- Make Believe Lovers
- If I Could Feel That Old Feeling Again
- Spoiled By Your Love
- I Won’t Stop Loving You
- Ring My Bell
- Sweet Splendor
- There’s No Doubt About It
- You Lied
- Ring My Bell (Single Version) (Juana 3422, 1979)
- Make Believe Lovers (Single Version) (TK 5-TKR-7551, 1979)
Fern Kinney, Groove Me (Malaco 6361, 1979 – reissued Big Break CDBBR 0214, 2013)
- Groove Me
- Under Fire
- Angel on the Ground
- Pillow Talk
- Together We Are Beautiful
- Sun, Moon, Rain
- Baby Let Me Kiss You
- Let’s Keep It Right There (Malaco 1058, 1979)
- I Want You Back (WEA K 79136, 1980)
- Movie Show (WEA K 79148, 1980)
- Groove Me (Single Version) (Malaco 1058, 1979)
- Baby Let Me Kiss You (Single Version) (Malaco 1061, 1979)
- Sweet Life (Duet with Frederick Knight) (Chimneyville 10227, 1978)
- Tonight’s the Night (Duet with Frederick Knight) (Chimneyville 1027, 1978)
Stephanie Mills, Merciless (Casablanca 422-811 364, 1983 – reissued SoulMusic SMCR 5085, 2013)
- How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
- Never Get Enough of You
- Eternal Love
- His Name is Michael
- Here I Am
- My Body
- Do You Love Him?
- Pilot Error
- Since We’ve Been Together
- Pilot Error (Club Mix) (Casablanca 12-inch single 814-168-1, 1983)
- Hold Me Close to You (from All the Right Moves, Casablanca LP 814-449-4, 1983)
Donna Washington, Going for the Glow (Capitol ST-12147, 1981 – reissued SoulMusic SMCR 5088, 2013)
- ‘Scuse Me While I Fall in Love
- It’s Something
- Save Your Love for Me
- I See Home
- Nine to Five (Come Alive)
- Going for the Glow
- Save Your Love for Me
- I Want You Tonight
- ‘Scuse Me While I Fall in Love (Single Version) (Capitol single 45-4991, 1981)