Intro by AMG Review by RDTEN1
Rip, posting & additional infos by Nikos
At the time of the release of Think (About It) in 1972, Lyn Collins had been a member of James Brown‘s performing revue for about two years. Her full-throated voice had earned her the nickname “the Female Preacher” and a shot to record her own album. Of course, the Godfather was in the producer’s chair, writing four of the nine tracks, directing the J.B.’s as they laid down their usual funky grooves, and liberally adding vocals throughout. The title track is the main point of interest here; from Collins’ throat-ripping vocals to the track’s nasty groove to Brown’s background interjections, this is a killer.
A1 Think (About It) 3:21
A2 Just Won’t Do Right 2:59
A3 Wheels of Life 3:02
A4 Ain’t No Sunshine 2:49
A5 Things Got to Get Better 3:25
B1 Never Gonna Give You Up 3:02
B2 Reach Out for Me 3:30
B3 Women’s Lib 5:17
B4 Fly Me to the Moon 2:45
Perhaps because she died relatively young (56), or was simply overshadowed by her long standing mentor James Brown, the late Lyn Collins stands as one of soul’s most overlooked female performers.
Collins started her recording career as a teenager, waxing a couple of obscure singles over the years. There are a couple of stories as to how Collins caught James Brown’s attention. One story is that her husband/ manager/concert promoter sent him a demo tape. Another is that Collins promoter husband happened to handle the James Brown Revue and brought his wife to Brown’s attention. Regardless, Brown expressed an interest in Collins, recording a couple of tracks with her in 1971. One was tapped as a single:
- 1971′s ‘Wheels Of Life‘ b/w ‘Just Won’t Do Right‘ (King catalog number 45-6373)
Shortly after the single was released, Brown’s backing singer Vicki Anderson quit and Collin formerly joined the James Brown Revue. While the debut single didn’t do a great deal commercially, Brown was sufficiently impressed to finance a solo album on his own People label. Not to underplay Collins considerable talents, but Brown’s fingerprints were all over 1972′s “Think (About It:)” In additional to producing the collection, he contributed four of nine selections, arranged some of the tracks, and brought in his backing band The JBs for support. So to say the least, there was a distinctive James Brown presence throughout the album. That’s not meant to downplay Collins talents in any way. Blessed with a stunning voice (and quite the looker), Collins had a deep, growling voice that was easily as good as better known contemporaries such as Barbara Acklin, Betty Davis, or Millie Jackson. She also had a fascinating edge to her voice that managed to give quite a few of these tracks an unexpectedly sexy edge. On the downside, like a lot of female soul singers, Collins didn’t write her own material, so that left her fully dependent on outside parties. She certainly could have done worse than James Brown, but in a couple of instances, her choice of cover material was questionable. The other downside was a problem endemic through mid-1970s singers – namely a tendency to over-sing. As exemplified by her cover of Bill Withers’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, when Collins pushed her limits the results became shrill and irritating.
James Brown may have written and produced the song, but Collins performance proved she owned it – imagine what Aretha Franklin did to Otis Redding’s ‘Respect’ and you’ll have an idea of what Collins did with ‘Think (About It)‘. If you’ve never heard the song, take my word for it – this is one of the most righteous slices of female empowerment you’ll ever hear. Supported by Brown’s backing band The JB’s at their funkiest (I think you can also hear Brown grunting, laughing, and yelling in the background as well), Collins cut loose warning every lying, cheating male piece of crap out there that they were living on borrowed time … Yes, I admit it, we guys are pigs, Collins got it right. Easy to see why People tapped this as the lead-off single. The track’s also been sampled to death (Rob Base and DJ E-Z, Roxanne Shante, Twenty 4 Seven, Janet Jackson, etc.).
Just Won’t Do Right‘ was a ’50s-flavored, doo-wop flavored ballad, Perhaps not the most original number on the album, the song served as a wonderful showcase for Collins’ wonderful voice (I think that’s Jams Brown on backing vocals), and I’ve always loved the cool percussion arrangement.
A funky little soul number that had previously been released as a single, ‘Wheels of Life‘ has always reminded me a bit of one of those early Marvin Gaye tracks that were commercial, but still had an intriguing raw edge. In this case the edge resulted from some barely in-tune piano. You literally kept waiting for the keyboardist to mess up and have the song come crashing down around Collins.
Collins cover of Bill Withers ‘Ain’t No Sunshine‘ could have been amazing, but this time out she fell victim to the dreaded Janis Joplin over-singing phenomenon. Pushing her vocals, the results came off as shrill and irritating. Shame, though it served to underscore what made Withers’ low-keyed original such a pleasure.
Within the first five beats you could tell that ‘Things Got To Get Better‘ was another James Brown-penned and produced effort. With the JBs pounding away in the background, the song returned Collins to a funky environment, letting her vamp her way through one of the album’s most commercial numbers.
Hard to imagine I’m saying this, but Collin cover of Jerry Butler’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up‘ was almost as good as the original. Musically her cover didn’t stray far from the original arrangement, but she replaced Butler’s sense of detached resignation with some real fire and desperation. One of the album highlights.
Dialing back the energy a couple of notches, Collins turned in a nice cover of Bacharach-David’s ‘Reach Out for Me‘. While the original was a touch on the MOR side, Collins growling voice reset the song in a tasty soul setting, giving it a very commercial edge.
- Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with the sentiments expressed (though it’s always struck me as kind of funny to picture James Brown writing the feminist lyrics). Unfortunately with ‘Women’s Lib‘ Brown managed to avoid all the charm of the earlier ‘Think (About It)’ . Instead, this time around he churned out a bland, plodding, and frankly boring slice of acidic rhetoric that probably served to offset a lot of the benefits the earlier song created. Yech !!! Everything about this one, including Collins in-your-face vamp, her over-singing, and the chirping background singers was cringe inducing.
- What the world … I guarantee you’ve never heard anyone turn out a cover of ‘Fly Me To the Moon‘ like this one … Imagine Collins channeling Sly and the Family Stone and you might get a feel for this blazing funk work out. Possibly the best song on the album !!! James Brown must have been proud of this performance.