Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Queen Mother

From Cissy Houston c1977 here’s another unearthed B side that’s doing it for me at the moment.

I knew the bare facts of Cissy being Whitney’s mum and the relationship with the Warwicks but her Wiki entry helped me put more meat on the bones of her life.     

Emily Drinkard was born in 1933, the youngest of eight children. She took the name Houston when she married, for a second time, in 1959. Four years later she would give birth to a baby girl – Whitney. Before that in 1951, following her father’s death, she spent a number of years living with her elder sister Lee and her family (is that where the name Cissy came from I wonder?) and so shared a house with her nieces Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick. Bath time in that house would have been a sweet noise I’m sure!  

Cissy, Dionne, and Dee Dee did perform together for a time in the fifties as the Gospelaires. Then, into the sixties, all three were members of the Sweet Inspirations, although I’m not clear if for any period they all featured in the group at the same time (cross checking the various Wiki entries seem to be somewhat contradictory – and , yes, I know Wiki entries should not always be taken as gospel).       

Cissy Houston’s solo career didn't really start until she was in her late thirties, and her most recent CD was released only a couple of years ago. The seventies were her most active period as a solo performer with six albums released between 1969 and 1980. Her solo recordings may not be that well known but, even though you may not know it, you will be familiar with her voice as she has been a go to session and backing singer and appears on many well known records (to see what I mean cast an eye over the list of backing vocal appearances on her wiki entry, which I'm sure is not exhaustive).
And so to today’s B side. Love Is Holding On is reminiscent of some of Dionne Warwick’s seventies output, and the vocal similarities are there too – it’s the genes (and of course Cissy passed those genes directly to Whitney too) – although Cissy has a purer tone and can soar more effectively to my ears.  This was a track on her eponymous 1977 LP, one of a run of three albums produced by Michael Zager that took Cissy into pop and disco territory. The song was written by Barbara Morr and Betsy Durkin Matthes. They were introduced to each other by Carly Simon and this was the first song they wrote together – not bad for a first song!

The A side of this 45, Tomorrow, pales into insignificance in comparison with its lush and languid B side which is a thing of pure beauty, and the highest quality – and what a voice!   


ally. said...

and we do love dionne's seventies - ta for this it's a smasher

Anonymous said...

I don't write often, because I would repeat myself like a old senile man...
always something great to discover here. Like this C Houston and before that G Parker. Thank you, as usual :-)
Ravel, Montreal, Quebec

Darcy said...

Ally: it is isn't it! Would have been at home on Dionne's Just Being Myself album.

Thank you Ravel. You're a long time visitor I know and I'm glad you keep finding something here worth returning for.