Barbara Acklin – 1969 – Seven Days Of Night
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Brunswick rarely did right by Barbara Acklin. With her remarkable “Am I the Same Girl” poised for chart triumph, the label stripped away her potent vocals, added a piano, and released the track as the Young-Holt Unlimited instrumental “Soulful Strut“, which proved a massive hit in its own right. The original “Am I the Same Girl” is the centerpiece of Acklin’s sophomore LP, Seven Days of Night, and while it remains a high-water mark of Chicago soul, much of the album maintains a similar level of excellence.
The over-production and reliance on ill-suited and clichéd cover material that hampers her later Brunswick efforts is absent here. Most of the songs instead originate from the pen of the Chi-Lites’ Eugene Record, whose nuanced melodies and sublime arrangements (in particular the transcendent “Here Is a Heart“) fit Acklin’s soulful vocals like a glove (AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny).
A1 A Raggedy Ride 2:32
A2 Go With Love 2:14
A3 Seven Days Of Night 2:37
A4 Just Ain’t No Love 2:47
A5 Where Would I Go 2:41
A6 Am I The Same Girl 3:02
B1 Until You Return 3:06
B2 This Girl’s In Love With You 4:26
B3 Here Is A Heart 2:40
B4 Mr. Sunshine 2:37
B5 Love Had Come To Stay 3:06
Barbara Acklin cut her second album in 1969, under the auspices of Brunswick’s primo soul producer Carl Davis and Chi-Lite frontman Eugene Record.
Naturally, the best known song on this collection is “Am I the Same Girl“, a delicious Chi-Soul stomper riding a ferocious horn-driven groove, that would become an even bigger hit when released as an instrumental titled “Soulful Strut” by labelmates Young-Holt Unlimited.
But the opening number, “A Raggedy Ride“, is no doozie either: a fast-paced, rockin’ bit of Windy City soul from, which Acklin co-wrote with Record and Davis. And then there’s the fingersnappin’, infectious groove of “Seven Days of Night“, which is perfectly suited to Barbara’s soft, whispering vocal.
There’s a fatback, gospelly bounce to the Davis/Record original “Just Ain’t No Love” and the gorgeous, well orchestrated ballad “Until You Return“, which she co-wrote, again, with the aforementioned Davis and Record, is simply beautiful.
Unfortunately, as Brunswick was still trying to find out whether it wanted to push Barbara as a soul singer or a pop diva a la Dionne Warwick, there are a few incredibly out-of-place, schmaltzy tracks here as well. She sounds uncomfortable on the selections from the Bacharach/David songbook: “Go With Love” – which itself is completely usurped by over-the-top orchestration – is the least appalling. She sounds better on “Where Would I Go“, although here too the arrangements are preposterously bombastic. The best of the bunch undoubtedly is Acklin’s version of “This Girl’s In Love With You“, which manages to keep the frills and window dressings to a considerable minimum.
Far better are the soul-oriented numbers, and the brassy beater “Here Is a Heart” belongs to that category, as does the equally upbeat, breezy and tastefully arranged mid-tempo ballad “Mr. Sunshine (Where Is My Shadow).
The disc ends on a brilliant note with the sweet, lullaby-esque slowie “Love Had Come to Stay“, another original she co-wrote, and which blows the lounge/cocktail covers mentioned above right out of the water. Check out the dreamy, hypnotizing leit motif in mid-song and during the outro… Haunting…
A great album, and a must for Chi-Soul lovers.
Finally don’t miss her amazing debut “Love Makes A Woman” here.