Janice Barnett – 1975 – Janice

A superior soul album, produced by ex-Moonglow and Motown writer-Producer Harvey Fuqua for Fantasy Records in 1975. The vocal similarities between former beauty queen Janice Barnett Saddler and her contemporary Gladys Knight have long endeared her to all fans of quality 70s soul. On its vinyl release Janice was embraced by the Northern Soul brigade for its two storming dancers, I Told You So and Wake Up Smiling – although sublime sweet soul ballads like Goody Two Shoes also proved, then and now, that Janice (the group) were more than merely the latest dance-oriented act to fall off disco’s assembly line.

Apart from a few earlier singles as Janice and the Jammers and the Reggie Saddler Revue this great album represents the complete recorded legacy of a group and a singer who lacked for nothing, except the right breaks. 

A1 Wake Up Smiling 4:11
A2 Goody Two-Shoes 6:11
A3 I Told You So 3:32
A4 Take Me Away 4:57
A5 Him 4:56
B1 If I Had Known (I’d Be Gone) 4:02
B2 Love On The Line 5:34
B3 You’re Letting Me Go 3:46
B4 I Should Have Left You 5:49

Nicknamed the Queen of Beach Music, Janice Barnett is a former beauty queen, center fold in Jet Magazine, who has been entertaining for decades many audiences across the USA with her astounding vocal abilities, similar to those of Gladys Knight. In 1971, Janice became the opening act for Tina Turner who, after seeing her perform, sent for Janice to come to her dressing room where she offered her a job to become one of the Ikettes. Janice father Linton said “No Way!”; so she took a record deal instead with Fantasy Records out of New York City opening for Kool and The Gang. She eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, where she met Richard Pryor. Richard heard her and immediately she became his protege’. He introduced her to Joe Hubbard at Maverick Flats, which later spinned off into Soul Train. They sent her to Tokyo, Japan and Geneva, Switzerland to develop her act. After returning to the United States, Joe took Janice to meet Harvey Fuqua, the well-known music producer of Motown Records.

He produced an album for her on Fantasy Records, which has become a treasured collector’s item among beach music fanatics. Her tunes are also featured on some of the best of collector’s sets, including the ever so popular ‘I Told You So‘ on Ripete Records Beach Beat Volume IV. The album, simply titled Janice, was recorded in 1975 and has got a sound which is almost in a Salsoul mode at times – not totally disco, but with some uptempo elements – mixed in with some warmer harmonies provided by Janice and her group, of the sort you might find on records by Double Exposure, although with the obvious female difference. The musicians playing with Barnett are Reggie Sadler: lead guitar & baritone background; Freddie Morrison: bass, second tenor; Norman Ferrington: drums & percussion & William Acosta.