Coldwater Stone – 1973 – Defrost Me
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Hiding behind the Coldwater Stone name, 1973’s “Defrost Me” was actually the work of the late Freddy Briggs. Soul aficionados will recognize Briggs for his work as a songwriter and producer (plus the fact he was married to the late Kimberley Tolliver-nee-Briggs).
Having attracted some attention for his early-70s efforts with Chess and Stax, in 1972 Briggs and Tolliver set up Castro Productions with the apparent goal of starting a solo career for Freddy. Over the next year Briggs recorded a host of material at sessions in Cleveland’s Agency Sound Studio, Muscle Shoals, and Miami’s Criteria Studios. Released on Lloyd Price’s small GSF label, the resulting album was largely a one man show with Briggs credited with producing, arranging, writing nine of the ten songs (wife Tolliver wrote ‘Outside Love Affair’), and handling all of the lead vocals.
A1 Jefferson Park 4:14
A2 Your Lover, Me, Your Friend 3:40
A3 When he Breaks Your Heart 2:10
A4 You’re The One 2:32
A5 Outside Lover Affair 2:32
B1 End of The World 3:55
B2 The Shape You’re About to Leave Me In 2:27
B3 Biggest Mistake in The World 4:00
B4 Without The One You Love 2:55
B5 Diddy Wah Diddy 4:53
Musically this was prime early-’70s soul with Briggs voice reminding me a bit of a cross between Swamp Dogg, Clarence Carter, and Lloyd Price (who happened to serve as executive producer). Briggs didn’t have the sweetest voice you’ve ever heard and his delivery was occasionally a bit rough, but to my ears, that raggedness made for some of his old-school charm.
It started out sounding like one of those Curtis Mayfield urban soundtracks, but then ‘Jefferson Park‘ took a strange twist, turning into one of the strangest ‘love man’ ballads with a plotline that will either make you smile, or cringe – boyfriend protects girlfriend from a gang of hoodlums and gets thrown in jail for ten years for stabbing one of them. ‘Your Lover, Me, Your Friend‘ found Briggs falling back on that soul staple – namely a tale of friendship and betrayal. This was one of the tracks where Briggs quivering voice reminded me a bit of Swamp Dogg. Nice ballad that had some commercial potential.
‘When He Breaks Your Heart‘ found Briggs switching gears, turning in a steaming slice of funk. One of the album’s standout tracks, this one had everything necessary for major sales – propulsive melody; engaging vocal, and a killer hook. This is probably the track GSF should have tapped as the single. My favorite song, ‘You’re the One‘ was a mid-tempo number with another glistening hook (the way the backing singers sing the title track was simply mesmerizing). Another song with considerable commercial potential.
The lone non-original (it was penned by wife Dorothy Kim Briggs), ‘Outside Love Affair‘ was a typical big love-man ballad. There wasn’t anything wrong with the track; in fact Briggs turned in one of his best vocals on the song, but there wasn’t anything particularly memorable about the performance. You felt as if you’d heard this tune a dozen times before. Of course that didn’t stop GSF from tapping it as a single. ‘End of the World‘ started out as a heartfelt ballad with some interesting lyrics (chicken little …’). weakened a bit by Briggs slightly unsteady vocals. Still, give him credit for trying to power-thru the song. I’m guessing the funky ‘The Shape You’re About To Leave Me In‘ was one of the Muscle Shoals compositions. Another one of the album’s more commercial tunes, I find myself humming this one on a regular basis.
Sounding like he was singing with a head cold, ‘Biggest Mistake In the World‘ was one of those tracks that took awhile to grow on you. Starting as a rather bland ballad, the song picked up considerable energy and became increasingly funky as it cruised along. Another track that sounded like a Muscle Shoals effort, ‘Without the One You Love‘ was a pretty, slightly-Gospel tinged ballad. Briggs sounded great on the track, but the real highlight was the anonymous guitar solo that powered the track. Not to be mistaken for the Manfred Mann song, ‘Diddy Wah Diddy‘ was a Clarence Carter-styled heartbreak ballad – yeah the end-of-song tears were a bit much, but other than that mistake, the song was quite nice with a catchy title track hook. Nice way to end the album.