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Eloise Laws Reissues Arrive “In Good Time” From Expansion Records, Thom Bell Arrangements Featured

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Eloise Laws two-ferThough a member of the prominent Laws musical family – alongside her brothers Ronnie and Hubert and sister Debra – Eloise Laws has more than distinguished herself with a series of soulful albums released over the years.  Now, the U.K.’s Expansion Records label has just reissued two of those albums on one CD, including one arranged and conducted by the legendary Thom Bell.  Eloise Laws/All in Time brings together Laws’ 1980 and 1982 albums, her third and fourth solo releases.

The fourth of eight Laws children, Eloise made her recording debut with a Columbia Records single back in 1969, but didn’t record a full solo LP until Ain’t It Feeling Good for Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Invictus label in 1978.  Laws soon shifted gears, though, signing to ABC Records and teaming with producer Linda Creed for the same year’s Eloise.  Creed was already well-established in soul circles as the lyricist for some of Thom Bell’s most memorable songs, among them “You Are Everything,” “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” “Betcha By Golly Wow,” The Rubberband Man” and “Ghetto Child.”  She had also written “The Greatest Love of All” with Michael Masser in 1977, which would of course become a signature song for Whitney Houston years later.  For Eloise, Creed teamed with a number of writers including, of course, Bell.  (“His House and Me” – originally cut by Dionne Warwick on her masterful Track of the Cat – was among its highlights.)  So it was only natural that Creed turned to Bell for Laws ‘next solo album, the 1980 Liberty release titled Eloise Laws.  (As for Eloise, it has also been finally reissued on CD, though that 2010 edition is now fiendishly difficult to obtain except at high prices secondhand!)

Eloise Laws, the first of two albums on Expansion’s two-fer, was produced by Creed with Thom Bell arranging and conducting.  For collectors of Bell’s oeuvre on CD, it’s a long-overdue arrival.  Creed and Bell employed some of Philadelphia’s most renowned names, among them Larry Washington on congas, Bobby Eli on guitar, Charles Collins on drums, The Sweethearts of Sigma plus Ron Tyson (of The Ethics and Love Committee) and Phil Hurtt on backing vocals, and Don Renaldo’s Horns and Strings.  Bill Neale handled guitars, Detroit-to-Philly transplant Bob Babbitt played bass, and Bell himself was featured on keyboards.  The resulting album is a lost classic, with many of Bell’s crowning symphonic touches infused into a more contemporary R&B setting circa 1980.  Bell and Creed revisited two Stylistics hits, “If You Don’t Watch Out” (as “If I Don’t Watch Out”) and “You Are Everything” in all-new arrangements, and drew on the work of other songwriters including Barbara Wyrick, Juanita Curiel and Phyllis Brown, as well.  Creed co-wrote “Let’s Find Those Two People Again” with Philly stalwart Bruce Hawes (“Mighty Love,” “Games People Play”), and “Moment to Moment” with Diane Bernstein.  The Bee Gees’ “Search, Find” was an unusual, and welcome, cover.  To Bell’s eight tracks, one song produced by Ronnie Laws (Harry Shannon and John Lewis Parker’s “Almost All the Way to Love”) was added to finalize the album sequence.

After the jump: a look at All in Time, plus order link and track listings for both albums!

Eloise moved over from Liberty to sister label Capitol for 1982’s All in Time, with Ronnie Laws taking over production duties for the entire album, with William Jeffrey.  For this set, Eloise herself wrote a couple of tunes (“If I Had My Way,” “While the City Sleeps” with Patrick Robinson and Jackie English), with other songs coming from a stable of songwriters including Bunny and Jeffrey Hull (“Love Ain’t Easy”), Bunny and Jackie English (“Weekend”), Alan Scott (“I Got Ya Covered” with Clyde Bullard, “I’ve Got the Rhythm, You’ve Got the Blues” with Ellia English and Ed Fox) and Paul Gordon and Robbie Buchanan (“I’ve Loved You Somewhere Before”).   In addition to producer Ronnie contributing saxophone, both Hubert and Debra Laws appeared on All in Time, making for a true family affair.  Ronnie and Jeffrey took Eloise’s sound in an R&B/jazz direction for this LP, somewhat further away from the silky Philly soul of Bell and Creed and more in line with the style of her younger sister Debra.

Alas, neither Eloise Laws nor All in Time set the charts ablaze, and Eloise didn’t return with a new solo album for nearly two decades.  But Eloise continued to record as an in-demand background vocalist and even turned her attentions to the stage, appearing on Broadway in the 1999 musical revue It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues.  She received a Drama Desk nomination for her work in the production.

Expansion’s reissue of these two R&B gems is a potent reminder of the distinctive vocal talents of Eloise Laws, not to mention the work of Linda Creed, Thom Bell and Ronnie Laws.  Ralph Tee provides a brief essay in the booklet, and while no remastering credit is present on the disc, it does indicate “Authorized reissue of the original EMI recordings from the original masters.”  While no Amazon U.S. link is currently available, you can order below from Amazon U.K.!

Eloise Laws, Eloise Laws/All in Time (Expansion CD EXP2CD29, 2013)

  1. Let’s Find Those Two People Again
  2. Strength of a Woman
  3. Almost All the Way to Love
  4. I’m Just Warmin’ Up
  5. You Are Everything
  6. Moment to Moment
  7. Got You Into My Life
  8. If I Don’t Watch Out
  9. Search, Find
  10. Love Ain’t Easy
  11. I Got Ya Covered
  12. I’ve Loved You Somewhere Before
  13. If I Had My Way
  14. While the City Sleeps
  15. I’ve Got the Rhythm, You’ve Got the Blues
  16. I Did It For Your Love
  17. If You Don’t Love Me By Now
  18. Weekend

Tracks 1-9 from Eloise Laws, Liberty LP LT-1063, 1980
Tracks 10-18 from All in Time, Capitol LP ST-12252, 1982

Written by Joe Marchese

September 25, 2013 at 10:07

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