The Second Disc

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News Round-up: A Soulful Tuesday

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Soul music enthusiasts have had a lot to cheer about this year, with boutique labels (Reel Music, Cherry Red’s Big Break and Super-Bird) and majors (Hip-O Select) alike delivering the goods with deluxe reissues of many classic albums. is offering two new releases this week, one on its own label and one coming from Expansion Records.

Thelma Houston’s 1969 LP Sunshower (Dunhill 50054) was previously available on CD as an expensive Japanese import, but brings it to the masses with an expanded edition. This reissue includes the entire album plus 6 bonus tracks, collecting her complete Dunhill catalog on one disc. Sunshower was produced, arranged and written by Jimmy Webb, and stands proudly alongside his similar efforts for The Fifth Dimension (The Magic Garden) and Richard Harris (A Tramp Shining). Sunshower boasted 11 Webb songs plus a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and it remains a unique blend of styles. Houston brings her own soul fervor (which reached full expression via her 1977 Motown smash, “Don’t Leave Me This Way”) to Webb’s baroque pop experiments which took in rock, gospel, MOR and country influences along the way. One of the great “lost” albums, Sunshower’s reissue is reason to rejoice. One standout track is “Cheap Lovin’,” which Webb would produce with The Supremes for their Produced & Arranged by Jimmy Webb LP; another is “Mixed-Up Girl,” also recorded by Dusty Springfield. The album’s “Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon” was actually released by Dunhill on a special single to celebrate the Apollo 11 mission. For sheer drama, “Someone is Standing Outside” and “This is Your Life” can’t be beat. Three double-sided singles (including one that has never seen American release) comprise the bonuses, including Houston’s soulful take on Laura Nyro’s “Save the Country.” The booklet promises a new essay by Charles Waring and the release is endorsed by Houston herself, who told, “I still think that Sunshower is the best album I’ve ever done.”

Complementing Sunshower is Expansion’s two-fer release of Lou Rawls’ 1982 and 1984 efforts for Epic, which followed his departure from Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International Records. With this disc, Now is the Time (Epic 37488) and Close Company (Epic 39403) are both restored to Rawls’ catalog after a long absence. Few artists had a career the length and breadth of the late Rawls. With his versatile, velvety pipes, he successfully traversed many styles ranging from jazz and vocal pop to smooth soul.  These albums, while largely overlooked, feature some of Philly’s top talent, alumni of the Gamble and Huff hit factory. The legendary Thom Bell produced and arranged four of the tracks on Now is the Time, while the team of Mtume and Lucas handled the balance of the album.Dexter Wansel, Norman Harris and Jack Faith all contributed to Close Company.  See the track listings for both releases after the jump!

Thelma Houston, Sunshower: The Complete Dunhill Recordings ( SMDC05CD, 2010)
1. Sunshower – 3:16
2. Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon – 4:16
3. To Make It Easier on You – 4:41
4. Didn’t We – 3:09
5. Mixed-Up Girl – 4:14
6. Someone Is Standing Outside – 3:26
7. Jumpin’ Jack Flash – 3:25
8. This is Where I Came In – 3:15
9. Pocketful of Keys – 3:02
10. This is Your Life – 3:41
11. Cheap Lovin’ – 3:29
12. If This Was the Last Song – 3:17
13. Save the Country
14. I Just Can’t Stay Away
15. I Just Gotta Be Me
16. Crying in the Sunshine
17. The Good Earth
18. Ride, Louie, Ride

Tracks 1-12 from Sunshower, Dunhill LP 50054, 1969
Tracks 13-14 from Dunhill 45 4222, 1970
Tracks 15-16 from Dunhill Stateside 45 8044, 1970 (U.K. release only)
Tracks 17-18 from Dunhill 45 4260, 1970

Lou Rawls, Now is the Time & Close Company (Expansion EXP2CD6, 2010)
1. Will You Kiss Me One More Time – 4:53
2. Let Me Show You How – 4:28
3. Ain’t That Love, Baby – 4:38
4. While the Rain Comes Down – 5:33
5. Now is the Time for Love – 3:41
6. Watch Your Back – 4:30
7. It’s Too Late (To Say Goodbye) – 4:27
8. Back to You – 3:29
9. This Love – 5:55
10. All Time Lover – 4:36
11. In the Middle of the Night – 4:18
12. Close Company – 4:46
13. Pretty Eyes – 4:22
14. When We Were Young – 3:35
15. Ready or Not? – 4:30
16. Forever I Do – 4:45
17. The Lady in My Life – 4:45
18. Say It Again – 3:38
19. Sunshine (When Are You Coming My Way) – 4:45

Tracks 1-9 from Now is the Time, Epic LP 37488,1982
Tracks 10-19 from Close Company, Epic LP 39403, 1984

Written by Joe Marchese

June 15, 2010 at 08:30

4 Responses

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  1. And that is Lou Rawls singing the same “The Lady in My Life” that was the last track on Thriller! That is a killer combination if you ask me.

    Mike Duquette

    June 15, 2010 at 11:01

  2. I haven’t heard those Rawls albums. Do they have the classic Philly sound, or do they have the “I’m trying to sound modern” 80’s sound that now sounds completely dated?


    June 16, 2010 at 09:17

    • The Rawls albums are a bit of a mixed bag. The majority of the Thom Bell tracks are co-writes with Deniece Williams, and so if you like the sound of the Bell/Williams LPs, chances are you’ll respond similarly to these tracks. I wouldn’t mistake these or the other tracks for Sigma Sound circa ’72/’73, but these LPs do date from the period just before the PIR artists totally embraced that then-modern 80s sound. So many of the classic Philly hallmarks (including the large orchestras) are in place…especially on a really great cover of “The Lady In Your Life.” If you dig the later ’70s Philly productions, these LPs might be for you.

      Joe Marchese

      June 17, 2010 at 16:30

  3. […] Earlier this year saw’s reissue of Houston’s 1969 baroque soul classic, Sunshower, and now Houston’s fans can rejoice with the reissue of two RCA LPs dating from 1980 and 1981: Breakwater Cat and Never Gonna Be Another One. While neither made much of an impression on the album charts, both boast Houston’s rich voice in its prime tackling originals and covers alike. Of the latter, Breakwater‘s take on “Suspicious Minds” garned some radio airplay and dented the dance charts, as did Never‘s “96 Tears.” Another dance hit was “If You Feel It,” and the same LP saw Houston wrapping her pipes around Bacharach and David’s defiant “Don’t Make Me Over.” The versatile Houston, with a career spanning many labels, continues to record today, and this two-fer fills a nice gap in her recording history on CD. Mark Wilder handles the mastering chores. […]

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