Milton Wright – 1977 – Spaced
One of the most unique soul records you’ll ever own a tremendous little set from the mighty Milton Wright! Milton’s probably best known for his first album, Friends & Buddies, but this set is arguably even greater an even more personal, unusual session that blends wonderfully written songs, heartfelt vocals, and some really offbeat production techniques!
There’s a bit of an acoustic vibe to the set at times guitar gently grooving alongside Milton’s vocals but the set also has a jazzy tinge too, with hip inflections amidst the arrangements that created a really sophisticated pattern of sounds for the record. Things start somewhat mellow, but quickly get grooving bringing in bits of keyboards and more electric guitar to warm things up, and hitting a sublime style that’s unlike anything else we can think of. Wright’s vocals often have a spaced out feel that’s in keeping with the album, but the album’s hardly laidback and has a great sense of focus throughout.
A1 She Can Have Anything She Wants 2.43
A2 Dance Have Fun 4.48
A3 Magic Music 3.39
A4 All I Know Is That I Have You 3.14
A5 Let’s Take A Break 1.48
B1 You Like To Dance 4.59
B2 You Don’t Even Know Me 3.13
B3 Leave Me Alone 3.40
B4 Be With Me 2.43
B5 Job 3.06
Review by Trakbuv
Had this been a blog cataloguing the history of manned flight, I would have had plenty to write (!). As it happens, the father of the Wright Brothers may have shared his name with Milton, but not his compassion for our music. As such, there appears to be only scant information about this elusive gent. With respect to sharing his name, one Betty Wright does have the accolade of being his sister – is this further proof that soul music is a hereditary trait ? Must be in them soul bones (thank you, The Trammps). Anyhow, Milton Wright will be well known to many of you as the guy who gave us ‘Keep it up’, the sassy Moog-laden beat number that has blared out on numerous respectable dance halls. Some of you may also be fortunate to be familiar with the long player from which this single was pulled: ‘Friends and Buddies’ from 1975 – a rich, beautifully crafted box of goodies.
Well, Nikos has kindly provided us with the extremely obscure follow-up to that masterpiece. Released on the Alston subsidiary of TK Records (to whom his sis was also affiliated at the time), this was a commercial failure – but since when has that been a mark of a record’s longevity ?!! Fate dealt a second blow when stacks of the unsold pressings were destroyed in a warehouse fire. However, sufficient copies did survive to tell a wonderful tale – ten tales in total. The set is written solely or jointly by Mr Wright and produced once again by Seth Snyder, with Milton presumably contributing his musicianship on the guitar. Things push off with ‘She can have anything she wants’, a pleasant Modern Soul groover with curiously muffled (spaced-out ?) overdubbed vocals – maybe not the most captivating song to start an album with. ‘Dance have fun’ is a great disco thumper with the Morse for SOS seemingly played throughout to give it an urgent edge, and that extended break to finish is a gas. The next track reminds me how similar Milton and Leroy Hutson are in their slender vocal tones and adventurous production. ‘Magic music’ has a lovely light and breezy quality. A track I was familiar with is the warm, caressing ‘All I know is I have you’, a simple message drifting in a gentle sea of strings and flutes – beautiful. Then it’s the funky, impudent, bass-driven ‘Let’s take a break’ – a precursor to Prince’s ‘Kiss’ ? With some phat Tower Of Power sounding horns thrown in – this is waaay too brief.
That familiar sound of chattering guitars and sweeping strings herald the disco-orientated ‘You like to dance’. Not bad, but unfortunately his vocals are exposed as particularly unsuitable for the genre. Not sure why, but ‘You don’t even know me’ reminds me of ‘Keep it up’ – it has that same insistent quality. Wisely introducing a female background vocalist for the first time, this is my highlight. Although ‘Leave me alone’ sounds like a slowed down version of the preceding track, it has a charm all of its own. Leroy Hutson comes back to mind here at his mighty midtempo best, hugging you like a warmed blanket. Brilliant, and his best vocal performance. The cheerful ‘Be with me’ again uses dual tracked vocals to provide a lilting, strangely hypnotic experience. The spiritual ‘Job’ (the biblical figure) is a melodic closer that lacks a little something – maybe a female choir to give it a more wholesome feel.
More soulful/dance and less jazz-orientated than its predecessor, and arguably less successful because of it, this is still an enchanting episode that was a real pleasure to sit through. The quality is undeniable and another extremely worthy and rare addition to these hallowed pages.