Betty Wright – 1974 – Danger High Voltage
Danger! Hi-Voltage is an apt title for Betty Wright’s finest hour. It contains three R&B hits — “Shoorah! Shoorah!“, “Where Is the Love” and “Tonight Is the Night” the original version not the later 8 min, but also features an array of other tasty tracks, including the heart-tugging “That’s When I’ll Stop Loving You“.
It is included in Mojo’s Magazine 100 greatest soul albums of all time.
A1 Everybody Was Rockin’ (3:48)
A2 Love Don’t Grow On A Love Tree (3:01)
A3 Show You Girl (2:38)
A4 Come On Up (2:59)
A5 Shoorah! Shoorah! (2:55)
B1 Where Is The Love (4:55)
B2 That’s When I’ll Stop Loving You (3:23)
B3 Don’t Thank Me Baby, Thank Yourself (2:54)
B4 Tonight Is The Night (4:00)
With her incredible combination of innocence and sass (and, allegedly, an IQ of 191), Betty Wright, ‘the queen of Miami soul’, was something of an old-timer by the time she released 1974’s Danger High Voltage at the age of 21. She had been singing in family group Echoes of Joy from the age of three, and released her first single at the age of 12. Her first hit, Girls Can’t Do What Guys Do, came in 1968. Her signature smash, Clean Up Woman, followed in 1971. Her fourth album’s title was chosen for a reason: it positively crackles with electricity.
Produced by Willie Clarke (who’d discovered Wright when she was 11), Danger High Voltage is a showcase for Henry Stone’s TK label’s stable of artists, with Howie Casey and Richard Finch of KC and the Sunshine Band contributing significantly throughout. From the opening rush of Everybody Was Rockin’ to the sensual dénouement of Tonight Is the Night, Danger High Voltage is akin to one long party – a smouldering confection of southern funk, proto-disco and what was soon to be known popularly as northern soul.
Of the album’s many standouts, Allen Toussaint’s Shoorah! Shoorah! is an undisputed highlight, one of those fabulous and thoroughly daft bubblegum soul singles. A top 30 UK hit in January 1975, Wright delivers it with zest and passion. Where Is the Love also reached the UK top 30. Its infectious disco gained Wright a Grammy, with little wonder: its horn-loaded, chicken-scratch funk is topped off by Wright’s warm delivery.
The album’s closer was originally released as the flip of Shoorah! Shoorah!, but would become one of her biggest records in the US. Sensuously soulful, it was written about her first sexual experiences and delivered absolutely straight. It is rare such a tender and potentially gauche subject is handled so directly and non-controversially.
Several of Wright’s works have been sampled over the years by hip hop, rock and R&B musicians. The riff from “Clean Up Woman” has been sampled constantly by acts such as Afrika Bambaattaa, SWV, Mary J. Blige, Sublime, and Chance the Rapper. Wright’s first hit, “Girls Can’t Do What Guys Do“, was sampled for Beyoncé‘s “Upgrade U“. In 1992, Wright sued the producers behind Color Me Badd‘s breakthrough hit, “I Wanna Sex You Up“, after claiming they used the sample of her live version without clearance and without permission, and sued for royalties. Wright won her case, winning 35 percent of royalties for writing the song.