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Archive for the ‘Ronnie Laws’ Category

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! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 25, 2013 at 10:07

In The Groove: Patti Austin, George Duke, Ronnie Laws Reissues Coming From SoulMusic Label

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Patti Austin - CTISoulMusic Records, a division of the Cherry Red Group, is taking a soulful walk on the jazz side of town this month – or is that a jazzy walk on the soulful side of town?  You can decide for yourself with the new reissue of titles from Patti Austin, George Duke and Ronnie Laws.  All three albums are available now in U.K. and U.S. stores.

With Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington as her godparents, it’s no surprise that Patti Austin found her calling in music.  Yet despite having first recorded in 1955, Austin didn’t release a solo album until 1976 when she signed with Creed Taylor’s CTI label.  CTI was known for its sleek, modern jazz offerings, but Taylor was looking to expand his label’s horizons and the already accomplished singer /songwriter fit the bill.  SoulMusic has reissued Austin’s 1976 CTI debut, End of a Rainbow, in a deluxe edition also containing nine bonus tracks drawn from two later CTI platters.  Taylor himself oversaw Rainbow, which featured arrangements from David Matthews and guest appearances from CTI labelmate Joe Farrell, Randy Brecker and Gwen Guthrie.  On End of a Rainbow, Austin tackled lush, string-drenched ballads as well as uptempo grooves that straddled the line between jazz and R&B.  Austin wrote every song herself with the exception of one tune co-written with Dave Grusin (“That’s Enough for Me”) and one from Pat Upton (Spiral Starecase hit “More Today Than Yesterday”).  Grusin would play a significant role in Austin’s future, eventually signing her to his GRP label.

But more immediately speaking, Grusin and his GRP partner Larry Rosen took the reins as producers for Austin’s 1978 follow-up, Havana Candy.  This album was even more eclectic than the first, with songs ranging from the “rumba-type thing” (in Austin’s words) that is the saucy, delicious title track, to a heartfelt rendition of Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s “Lost in the Stars.”  Five tracks have been culled from Havana for the new release, and three from 1980’s CTI farewell Body Language.  (A concert LP, Live At the Bottom Line, came in between.)  Recorded in Muscle Shoals with Taylor back in the producer’s chair, Body Language found Austin singing Squeeze (“Another Nail For My Heart”) and Isaac Hayes (the title song).  The album was actually the singer’s most successful, going Top 30 Jazz and earning a spot on the R&B charts, too, at No. 62.  But CTI was in a state of flux by 1980, and Austin decamped for her godfather’s Qwest label.  Though Havana Candy and Body Language should warrant reissues on their own, SoulMusic’s expanded End of the Rainbow is a vibrant retrospective of an artist who’s still blurring genre lines and pushing boundaries as both a singer/songwriter and an interpretive vocal talent.  SoulMusic founder David Nathan has written new liner notes, and Alan Wilson has remastered.

What’s coming from George Duke and Ronnie Laws?  Just hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 6, 2013 at 09:32