Rare Earth – 1969 – Get Ready
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Despite the grandiose success of their hit single “Get Ready”, Rare Earth had a discography of brilliant albums…this being one of them.
There is a nice rendition of the classic “Tobacco Road” and even nicer version of “Get Ready” (which runs for 20 minutes, entirely taking up Side 2 of this record).
“In Bed” and “Train to Nowhere” are also great songs. Definitely one of the finest records to come out of the early Motown era.
Contrary to the common perception, Rare Earth were not the only white band to have been signed to Motown; but as far as I know not only were they the 1st ones to have done it (although reluctant when they were firstly contacted, since they were aware Motown was only oriented for the Black market and feared not getting the necessary promotion, the band finally agreed after learning the label was going to open up a sub-division consecrated to white bands – that did not apparently happened, but who cares?), as they also definitely were the only successful whites the label ever signed, and the 10 years duration of their contract is there to confirm it;
That said, if they were not the inventors of the sub-genre, at least they were the 1st band to deserve the Blue-Eyed-Soul tag (even if their sound overflows that somewhat restrictive notion); and although a reincarnation of the group which was still doing gigs not long ago, is probably one of the innumerable attempts to cash on past glories, the truth is that in their prime time, Rare Earth exuded an irresistible appeal with their lilting, muscled and organic style, which probably only racial prejudices could prevent from becoming a band idolized by all types of audiences.
This album includes all it took to make theirs such a revered sound, one that could unobtrusively cross boundaries, a trend growingly accepted, but still no small feat at the time. With Pete Rivera keeping a punchy yet flexible drum beat and singing imposing lead vocals, Kenny James responsible for a greasy and rhythmic organ sound that spread from psychedelic washes to jazzy runs, and soulful piano work, John Parish holding a steadfast and reliable bass anchor, Rod Richards whose normally saturated tone gave the band a distinctively Rocking edge and Gil Bridgeswhose sax is often waiting for its cue but is then both capable of providing wailing ornamental patterns or Jazzy excursions when called for, and with everybody sporadically contributing on vocals, these guys although no virtuosos, had the necessary skills to keep temperature levels high and offer no opportunities for the listeners to loose interest;
The Smokey Robinson penned “Get Ready”, which gave the band their biggest hit, with their version surpassing the success of the original and of many covers such as The Temptations’, is here included in a side long live version that confirms the groups potential while on stage; as for the studio material, it proofs the band had a special flair to pick up and a special gift to rearrange tunes, that no matter how many times they’d been covered they’d always find something relevant to add, thus avoiding any sort of filler stuff, and most importantly, inject them with a dose of good humor, soulful interpretations, and infectious grooves that make this an album which is a pleasure to listen to from top to bottom ( and you risk feeling the impulse of spinning it once more when it’s over).