|April 17, 2012|
Release Date 04/10/12
Review By: Ione Lundy
Celebrating the legacy of one of the most influential songwriter/producers of our time, Bob Baldwin Presents “Betcha By Golly Wow”: The Music of Thom Bell.
A passionate homage to one of the architects of the classic “Sound of Philadelphia” that revolutionized the soul of R&B music, the 11-track collection on Peak Records also reflects the grooving, multi-cultural vibe the keyboardist, composer and musical innovator has trademarked as “NewUrbanJazz™.”
Baldwin co-produced many of the tracks with famed songwriter and producer Preston Glass, whose extensive resume includes Whitney Houston, Kenny G, Stanley Jordan, George Benson and Aretha Franklin.
Over 35 years since the heyday of Philly soul, its sweet vibes, colorful textures and infectious grooves continue to enchant fans of many generations and artists and musicians from a multitude of genres. Bell left an indelible legacy of his own on the era via classic hits by The Spinners, The Stylistics, The Delfonics and others—many co-written with the late lyricist Linda Creed.
On Betcha By Golly Wow, he re-imagines “People Make The World Go Round” Baldwin takes to these nine Bell classics and two originals inspired by his vibe, the old school easy funk flavored “Gonna Be Sweeter” and the lush, elegant tribute “Bell and Creed.” Baldwin’s most notable previous Bell reworking was “Break Up To Make Up,” a track from singer Will Downing’s 1993 collection Love’s The Place To Be featuring Baldwin and saxophonist Gerald Albright.
The keyboardist felt that the original track was so in the spirit of Betcha By Golly Wow that he includes the 1993 recording untouched on the new collection.
As the “Quincy Jones” of the project, Baldwin features two artists from the Peak Records roster: guitarist Russ Freeman (who adds punch to a sensual, easy shuffling version of The Delfonics’ “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”; and Paul Taylor, whose whimsical soprano blends beautifully with Baldwin’s piano and Ragan Whiteside’s dreamy backing vocals on The Stylistics’ “You’re As Right As Rain”. Guitarist Paul Brown adds a crackling cool wah-wah touch to the ambient soul-jazz spin on The Spinners’ “The Rubberband Man” (a track that Baldwin calls “the most challenging on the album”), while saxman Marion Meadows takes the spotlight on an expansive rendition of “People Make The World Go Round” and a slightly bluesy romp through The Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around.” Renowned R&B singer Vivian Green brings her seductive magic to an eloquent take on The Delfonics’ “La-La Means I Love You.” Baldwin also introduces the world to the powerhouse voice of Atlanta based singer Toni Redd, whose intensely emotional delivery of “Betcha By Golly Wow” is patterned after the recording the late Phyllis Hyman did of the song with drummer Norman Connors in the mid-70s.
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