Creation – 1974 – Creation
Review by RDTEN1
This collection’s tentative claim to fame probably rests with the fact it was an early release by Leon Patillo. Patillo went on to a mid-’70s stint with Santana and then fame as a Christian singer and (now) evangelist.
Formed in the late 1960s, and original known as Leon’s Creation (shortened to Creation), started out as an eight piece funky outfit that seemed to owe more than a little to Sly & the Family Stone.
Released in 1974, “Creation” found the band working with producers Jimmy Douglass and band bassist Jimmie Calhoun. Mostly penned by Patillo and keyboard player Lenny Lee Goldsmth, the album featured all original material. Musically the overall feel was somewhere between Sly-styled funk (‘Facts‘) and a bus load of clean cut, young evangelists (‘Joy‘).
A1 Facts 3:44
A2 Burnin’ Out My Youth 2:37
A3 Wastin’ My Time 3:15
A4 Joy 2:14
A5 It’s Gotta Be This Way 2:31
A6 I’m In Love 3:58
B1 Nothing Can Stop Us Now 3:27
B2 Spirit 2:58
B3 Trial And Error 3:36
B4 It’s Gonna Be Alright 3:44
B5 Survival 3:38
I guess that was a little heavy handed. While virtually every one of these songs had a secular orientation, in most cases the messages were fairly subtle, rather the in-you-face, take-it-or-leave-it approach favored by others. Moreover, with three strong lead singers in Patillo, Lenny Lee Goldsmth, and Carol Kafi Stallings, the band was able to bring a nice versatility to their sound. Admittedly the curmudgeon in me was originally irritated by the collection’s relentlessly upbeat and spiritual feel. Who wants to be lectured to? If I want to feel dark and grumpy, why are you guys singing to me about ‘Joy‘, ‘Nothing Can Stop Us Now‘, and ‘Spiritual‘? So here’s the funny thing. I’ve listened to this album dozens of times and while the lyrics still occasionally irk me (‘Wastin’ My Time‘), the strong melodies like Goldsmith’s rocking ‘Burning Out My Youth‘, and the bubbly ‘It’s Gotta Be This Way‘, coupled with those strong melodies, and enjoyable vocals gradually won me over. Choice for the standout performance – their Staples Singers-meet-Sly-styled hymn to hope ‘It’s Gotta Be This Way‘. Stallings gave the Staples sisters a run for their collective money on this one.
By the way, even the Drew Struzan and Bill Garland cover art seemed designed to remind you of Sly and company.
To my ears ‘Facts‘ could easily have been mistaken for a prime slice of Sly and the Family Stone … Yeah, if you paid close attention, the lyrics reflected a subtle religious agenda, though it was nothing that was going to jump out at you and irritate a non-believer The mixture of Leon Patillo and Carol Stallings voices coupled with the song’s funky, bass and horn powered melody just had that magical Sly feel. Great way to open the album.
‘Burning Out My Youth‘ : Assuming co-writer Goldsmith handled lead vocals on this one, I have to admit he wasn’t as good as Patillo, but still had his share of talent. An out-and-out rocker with a hideously catchy refrain, ‘Burning Out My Youth’ would have made a nice single.
‘Wastin’ My Time‘ : The “uplifting” spiritual lyrics may have been a little heavy handed, but wrapped in a sweet, slightly reggae-tinged melody, you ultimately gave in to the message. I didn’t particularly like Carol Kafi Stallings’s violin work (minus one star), but the song’s unsung hero was bassist Jimmy Calhoun.
‘Joy‘ : How would have ever expected such a poppy tune built on repeating the title over and over and over. Seriously catchy factor here and Patillo’s vocal was truly impressive. ‘It’s Gotta Be This Way‘ : With a bubbly, synthesizer powered melody and a Carol Stallings’ vocal that bore an uncanny resemblance to The Staple Singers at their most commercial, ‘It’s Gotta Be This Way’ was easily one of the album’s standout performances. Inexplicably the song was overlooked as a US single, though ATCO released it as a 45 in the UK – 1974’s ‘Its Gotta Be This Way’ b/w ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright’ (Atlantic catalog number K 10437)
‘I’m In Love‘ : Stark, keyboard-powered ballad with a very nice Patillo lead vocal. I didn’t even mind the flute solo, or Stallings violin colorings. Another Goldsmith tune (he also handled lead vocals), ‘Nothing Can Stop Us Now‘ was the album’s hardest rocker with a nice Sly-styled funk-rock sound. Every wondered what the Staples would have sounded like if they hung out with Sly for a weekend? Check out ‘Spirit‘. ‘Trial and Error‘ a Country-tinged number simply didn’t do much for me.
‘It’s Gonna Be Alright‘ : A pop tune with annoying “group” vocals and way too much pedal steel guitar. ‘Survival‘ : While the violin accompaniment bugged me, ‘Survival’ was interesting for introducing a jazzy flavor to the mix. Add in some BS&T horns and a bit of Herbie Mann-styled flute and the result was a surprising enjoyable mix.
Don’t miss their brilliant 1970 LP ” This Is the Beginning” recorded as Leon’s Creation, here.