Freda Payne – 1970 – Band Of Gold
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This is an excellent album from a underappreciated soul vocalist. Published in the Invictus label, founded by Holland, Dozier and Holland after leaving Motown, it contains not a bad song and is one of the best soul albums of the 70’s.
1970 LP Invictus ST-7301
A1 Band of Gold
A2 I Left Some Dreams Back There
A3 Deeper and Deeper
A4 Rock Me in the Cradle
A5 Unhooked Generation
A6 Love on Borrowed Time
B1 Through the Memory of My Mind
B2 This Girl Is a Woman Now
B3 The World Don’t Owe You a Thing
B4 Now Is the Time to Say Goodbye
B5 Happy Heart
B6 The Easiest Way to Fall
Although much of soul vocalist Freda Payne’s early ’70s association with the mighty Invictus label would be fraught with stress, her 1970 debut album, Band of Gold, was nevertheless a masterpiece of epic proportions. Touted on the sleeve as “people music, for people who like pop, rhythm and blues, ballad, hymns — just about anything,” Payne’s set certainly reflects that wide range and, while the overall sonic tone of Band of Gold reflects her producers’ Motown history, especially across songs like “Unhooked Generation“ and the Holland-Dozier penned “The World Don’t Owe You a Thing“ there are other more spontaneous moments here as well. With a majority of the songs co-written by Ron Dunbar, who would go on to become part of the P-Funk empire, “Payne” wowed her audience first with the top hit “Band of Gold” before diving into “Deeper and Deeper“. Both are downtempo love ballads, delivered with a maturity and richness that belies much of the balladeering of the era. Other standouts include the young love remembrances of “Through the Memory of My Mind,” which allows Payne’s vocals to stay fully in front and even includes a subtle Shangri-Las-y spoken work bridge and the smoky intro’d “This Girl Is a Woman Now“. It must be said, however, that the title song — truly one of the greatest soul ballads of all time — so dominates proceedings that it is very easy to overlook these other gems, one reason why Band of Gold rarely attracts much attention today.
Freda began her career with the Pearl Bailey Revue, performing regularly with Duke Ellington. Her first major break came when Quincy Jones invited her to perform as a soloist with his orchestra one night at the Apollo in Harlem, New York.In 1965 she signed with ABC Records and sang strictly jazz until 1969 when she was signed by the Invictus label, formed by the Holland/Dozier/Holland production team, after their departure from Motown Records. In fact, Freda Payne was the first singer that Motown president Berry Gordy Jr. wanted to sign to his label. Gordy had his eyes set on making Freda his big female star in the early part of Motown before Diana Ross, Martha Reeves and Mary Wells. However, Freda was never signed by Gordy.At Invictus Freda Payne made an immediate impact on the American R&B scene with “Unhooked Generation,” followed by her biggest hit “Band of Gold” (UK No.1, Sept 1970). In the UK this success was followed by a couple of minor hit singles, “Deeper and Deeper” (No. 33, Nov 1970) and “Cherish What Is Dear To You” (No. 46, Mar 1971). However, her U.S. million-seller anti-Vietnam song “Bring the Boys Home” failed to chart in the UK. Because of a royalty dispute with Invictus, “I haven’t been paid a cent in 25 years,” said Freda in a recent U.S. interview, she returned to the ABC label.Her album releases for ABC included “Payne & Pleasure” (1975) and “Out Of Payne Comes Love” (1975). In 1976 Freda made a switch to Capitol for “Supernatural High” and in 1982 Freda Payne recorded the single “In Motion” for the New York Sutra label.
Payne is equally at home performing with a symphony or an intimate jazz trio. Her remarkable multi-faceted career spans more than four decades and includes theater, Broadway, concert stage and film.
Whether singing pop, jazz, or R&B, there are few vocalists finer than Freda Payne.