required listening

CD Review

VARIOUS ARTISTS  -  Jack Ashford Just Productions, Vol.2

Kent Soul (UK) CDKEND 478

SANDRA RICHARDSON-After You Give Your All; Don’t Let Me Down/MAGNIFICENTS-I Can Fly/SOFTOUCH-Say That You Love Me Boy/PERFECTIONS-Since I Lost My Baby/JACK ASHFORD-Let Me Take Care Of Your Heart; This Ain’t Just Another Dance Song/CECIL NORMAN JR-How Long Has It Been Since You Had A Love Affair/EDDIE PARKER-Crying Clown; I Need A True Love; Can’t You See (What You’re Doing To Me)/BILLY SHA-RAE-The Story Of My Life; I’m Gone; I Found The One/LORRAINE CHANDLER-Don’t Leave Me Baby/RAY GANT & the ARABIAN KNIGHTS-The First Depression; Air/THE SOUND OF NEW DETROIT-There Can Be A Better Way/FOUR SONICS-Easier Said Than Done/AL GARDNER-Watch Yourself/DON GARDNER & BABY WASHINGTON-Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me/J.C. HEARD-JC’s Grit Gitter/BRENDA COOK- Alone Again/FOUR SONICS PLUS ONE-Lost Without You

The second volume of Just Productions from one time Funk Brother, Jack Ashford - volume one, CDKEND 447, was issued early 2016 - gets off the mark with a tasty beater from Sandra Richardson, aka Sandra Feva, ‘After You Give Me Your All’, recorded in 1974 but originally unissued.  Certain other tracks fall into that ‘hidden gems’ category, having sneaked out in the interim years, while ten are surfacing here for the first time.  Ms Richardson is also served by ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, a slower-pace more atmospheric piece, allowing her to add a more emotional performance.  Sticking with the ladies, Baby Washington shares ‘Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me’ with Don Gardner, the melodic title track of their 1973 Master Five album; Lorraine Chandler - responsible for co-writing several tracks on display - delivers the easy toe-tapper, ‘Don’t Leave Me Baby’; Brenda Cook drifts her way nicely through the flowing, self co-penned ‘Alone Again’ and Softouch, who would cut a top-notch album for Fantasy in 1978, offer their spirited ‘Say That You Love Me Boy’, a 1975 Prodigal single.  Turning to the guys, both Eddie Parker and Billy Sha-Rae each get three bites of the cherry, Parker’s stunning ballad, ‘Crying Clown‘ appearing here in a reworking which compiler/annotator, Ady Croasdell suggests was cut at the same session as the previously-released version, while his other two offerings, both uptempo, are impressive too.  Billy Sha-Rae tops his trio with the deep ‘The Story Of My Life’, the strong ballad, ‘I Found The One‘ appeared on Hour Glass in 1970 and, with a change of pace, the storming ‘I’m Gone‘ - with a similarity to Edwin Starr’s ’25 Miles’ - turned up on Spectrum a year later.  Sticking with the upbeat, the Magnifcents‘ splendidly harmonised ‘I Can Fly‘, with its fulsome instrumental support is another to fall into the ‘highly commended‘ bracket; the Perfections rework the Temptations‘ ‘Since I Lost My Baby‘ and fine ballads come from ‘Lost Without You‘ by the Four Sonics plus One - the one being producer, Lorraine Chandler, a previous recorder of the song - and, topping the lot of these twenty-two tracks we have ‘How Long Has It Been Since You Had A Love Affair’, an absolute stunner penned and performed by Cecil Norman Jr.

review posted 3/10/18