Friday, July 14, 2006

Patience is a virtue

Today’s tracks come from The Voices Of East Harlem’s 1974 album “Can You Feel It”. They cut four albums on the Just Sunshine label, this being the last. This album has lain dormant in my record collection for nearly 30 years and has received precisely two straight through plays in that time, both in the last few weeks. The reason? The record had a major warp when I bought it way back when, to the extent that it was unplayable. (I bought it from a cut out bin in a still sealed state, and it always makes me think that these people who pay big money for SS albums are taking a risk – there is no way of knowing the condition of record within. Better maybe to buy an opened record described as M-, at least you have some confidence it what you are getting. The allure of the SS record is of course that you will be the first to play it, or that you don’t even open it and just admire it – but that’s just silly! isn’t it?). Anyway, as I am not one to discard things, I put the album back in the collection and there it stayed lovingly hugged all these years by UB40 and Junior Walker. Then a few weeks ago curiosity caused me to pull it out and lo and behold (bit of gospel phrasing there, fitting I thought) the warp has nearly gone, still a little bumpy (well, gently undulating really) but perfectly playable. After a couple of plays my verdict is that the grooves contents are, rather like the vinyl, a bit uneven.

The Voices Of East Harlem were an (up to) 20 strong soul-gospel group, including members as young as 12, and are probably best known for “Cashing In” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive” which both appeared (I think) on their eponymous third album. “Can You Feel It” was arranged and produced by Leroy Hutson, and I believe he had a hand in their earlier recordings too. I love the vocals generally on this album but I fear some of the tracks are fairly lightweight and frankly forgettable, and I think some of the tracks end up falling between the two stools of gospel and soul. Nevertheless there is an overall feel to the album and it sort of leaves you with a warm glow, which can’t be bad. For me the two tracks featured here are the standouts. “So Rare” has a lovely gentle and relaxed feel and is a great “summer song”. “Jimmy Joe Lee” is a funkier proposition and has a good arrangement.

“Can You Feel It” is now available on CD and Dusty Groove certainly like it.

The Voices Of East Harlem – So Rare 1974
The Voices Of East Harlem – Jimmy Joe Lee 1974


Kenny Lust said...

specially 'So Rare'

C said...

These are great - thanks for sharing!