Friday, December 13, 2019

The Feel it Mini Advent-ure: Door 13

Stumbled across the track The Same Routine on an internet/mixcloud radio show recently. I had not been aware of it before, nor the obscure 1974 album it comes from. I knew of the singer though.

Eleanor(e) Mills was picked up in the later 70s by Norman Connors and, along with Jean Carn, is the featured, if not always credited, singer on some of his albums. I have The Best Of Norman Connors And Friends, and I remember getting lots of enjoyment out of that album back in the 70s; Eleanor (without the 'e' then) features on a couple of tracks on that album.

The album that this track comes from, This Is Eleanore Mills, slipped out on Astroscope (an All Platinum spin off label) and did nothing at the time. On the back cover sleeve notes Harry Ray of the Moments states that “this is her first album of many more to come, and it contains what she knows how to do best, sing. WORLD! HERE IS ELEANORE MILLS!” To date this has proved to be the only full album she has ever had released. That's not to say she hasn't been active in the music business. As I mentioned above she performed with Norman Connors later in the 70s and featured on Roberta Flack's classic late 70s album with Donny Hathaway that featured Back Together Again. From the mid 80s and well into the 90s she had a number of disco and house singles released and she is still very active now it seems in the New York area with current Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. She seems to be a lady who has always very much moved with the times musically.

There seems to be no evidence of a career before her Astroscope album, although tantalisingly I found this entry in a January 1969 copy of Jet magazine: “Music writer-producermanager Joe Jones thinks he has hit the jackpot in signing a Columbia Records production agreement for foxy thrush Eleanore Mills”. It could be another Eleanore I suppose? (“foxy thrush”! - now that's an animal, or bird, I would like to see. Thrush was a common term to describe a female singer earlier in the 20th century, but 1969 seems late for it still to be used).

I have found a couple of comments that states she is either Stephanie Mills sister or cousin but nothing to corroborate them so I have to think that is not true.

The Same Routine is a superb dancer with a great string arrangement. The album is solid throughout (Teach Me is another real standout), although none of the other tracks are out and out dancers like this one. Eleanore's voice is really attractive and there are some great “crying” strings, imaginatively arranged, throughout. Most of the tracks are at a mid to slow pace with a thoughtful, gentle, sultry feel. Think the All Platinum sound of the early to mid 70s (The Rimshots are the band backing Eleanore). The feel sort of reminds me of Gloria Scott's and also Bettye Crutcher's albums that came out at a similar time.

As I said the album sort of sunk without trace back in 1974 but has built up a following over the years to the point it got a CD reissue in 2000 and a Soul Brother vinyl reissue in 2016. The original now sells for hundreds of pounds so I have satisfied myself with a reissue copy.

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