Creative Source – 1973 – Creative Source
The massive first album from Creative Source – a really unique group who really helped push the ensemble vocal mode forward in the 70s! The mixed male/female lineup recalls similar groups of the late 60s – but Creative Source also have a deeper, hipper style that comes through right away – a good ear for jazz in their phrasing, and an ability to get past any of the hoke of more sing-song gal/guy groups. The tunes are very progressive, and the album features sublime arrangements from Skip Scarborough – who’s working here in a wonderful realization of the style he’d work later for so many other artists. The group does a classic rendition of Scarborough’s “You Can’t Hide Love“, which was a hit for Earth Wind & Fire, plus nice covers of two tracks by Sussex labelmate Bill Withers – “Who Is He & What Is He To You” and “Let Me In Your Life“. Also includes the group’s own “Oh Love”, which is a nice groover – plus “Magic Carpet Ride”, “Wildflower”, and “Lovesville”.
A1 You Can’t Hide Love 3:22
A2 Let Me in Your Life 3:03
A3 Lovesville 3:58
A4 You’re Too Good To Be True 3:30
A5 Wild Flower 4:39
B1 Magic Carpet Ride 3:10
B2 Who Is He and What Is He to You 11:45
B3 Oh Love 3:24
Review by RDTEN1
I’ve always suspected Creative Source as being Sussex Records’ attempt to recreate a mid-1970s version of The 5th Dimension. Part of that may have something to do with the fact the band’s original manager was 5th Dimension vocalist Ron Townsend.
Based in Los Angeles, Creative Source came together in 1973. The original lineup consisted of Barbara Berryman, ex-Elgins Barbara Lewis, Steve Ranagan, Celeste Rose and former Colts/Fortunes singer Don Wyatt. With support from Townsend the group attracted the attention of Sussex Records which signed them to a contract.
Teamed with producer Mike Stokes (who also contributed a couple of songs to the project), 1974’s cleverly-titled “Creative Source” was surprisingly good. To be perfectly honest, the earlier comparison to The 5th Dimension wasn’t 100% accurate, but the group’s close knit harmonies and Paul Riser’s smooth arrangements bore at least a superficial comparison to the former. That said, The 5th Dimension have seldom recorded anything as good as the leadoff number ‘You Can’t Hide Love‘, nor anything as psych-tinged as ‘Who Is He and What Is He To You‘. Creative Source’s version of the former simply beat the crap out of the Earth, Wind and Fire original. Besides, can you imagine The 5th Dimension having the guts to cover Steppenwolf’s ‘Magic Carpet Ride‘? From a critical standpoint their biggest problem stemmed from the fact none of the members were writers. As such they were entirely dependent on outside parties. The fact over half of the album was first-rate spoke volumes to just how good they were and you were left to wonder what they could have done with a bit of creative independence.
– Sounding like a slice of Norman Whitfield psychedelia-meets the 5th Dimension, ‘You Can’t Hide Love‘ was one of the album’s highlights. Sporting an instantly recognizable melody and some great, silky smooth harmony vocals, this one should have been a massive hit for the group. Shame the track wasn’t longer.
– Penned by Bill Withers, their heavily orchestrated rendition of ‘Let Me In Your Life‘ was a bit too MOR for my tastes, but was still enjoyable. Still, it was one of the album’s prettier ballads …
– With a bouncy, upbeat melody, ‘Lovesville‘ had some great male/female shared vocals and ended with some of the fuzz guitar that made Norman Whitefield songs so cool.
– ‘You’re Too Good To Be True‘ bore an uncanny resemblance to a mid-career Jerry Butler tune. With one of the album’s most memorable melodies it was easy to see why it was released as a single.
– Other than the electric sitar solo, ‘Wild Flower‘ was simply too MOR to make much of an impressive.
– This probably wasn’t going to make you forget the Steppenwolf original, but you had to give these guys considerable credit for having the guts to cover a hard rock classic like ‘Magic Carpet Ride‘. The fact it turned out so good was a real reflection on their talents. I doubt Steppenwolf could ever have returned the favor recording a Creative Source track with as much enthusiasm.
– Released as the album’s second single, their cover of Bill Withers’ ‘Who Is He and What Is He To You‘ was given the full Norman Whitfield styled psych treatment, complete with tons of squealing fuzz guitar, gurgling mini Moog synthesizers, punchy horns and one of those extended, looping, lysergic fueled arrangements (the album track clocked in at over eleven minutes). Easily one of the best things they ever did. Released in an edited mode, the single provided the group with a top-70 hit.
– Showcasing the ladies on lead vocals, with a highly commercial arrangement and another sweet melody, the ballad ‘Oh Love‘ has always reminded me of a Thom Bell effort. That’s meant as a compliment since the song would have made a nice choice as a single.
As mentioned, two singles were released off the album:
– 1973’s ‘You’re Too Good To Be True’ b/w ‘Oh Love’ (Sussex catalog number SR-508)
– 1973’s ‘Who Is He and What Is He To You’ b/w ‘Who Is He and What Is He To You (instrumental)’ (Sussex catalog number SR-509)
Again, the LP was actually far better than my earlier MOR-oriented comments would have you imagine. The magic ingredient was probably lead singer Wyatt whose rugged baritone recalled a youthful Jerry Butler. Doubt the comparison, then check out the mesmerizing ‘You’re Too Got To Be True’. Propelled by the singles, the parent album actually managed to hit # 152 on the pop charts.