Patti Drew – 1967 – Tell Him
Patti Drew’s 1967 debut album “Tell Him” may actually be her least consistent, containing as it does 3 covers of Southern soul staples. It’s perfectly forgiveable, as Capitol was still feeling around for a proper image for the recently soloed lead singer of the Drew-Vels, and her covers of Joe Tex’s “Show Me“, Otis Redding’s “My Lover’s Prayer“, and Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood” were respectable and, occasionally, downright enjoyable.
A1 Tell Him 2:30
A2 Turn Away From Me 2:08
A3 Tired of Falling In (And Out Of) Love 2:45
A4 Knock on Wood 2:58
A5 I Can’t Shake It Loose 2:32
A6 My Lover’s Prayer 3:14
B1 Stop and Listen 2:38
B2 Show Me 2:52
B3 Someone to Take Your Place 3:25
B4 Been Rained On 2:38
B5 You’ve Changed 3:25
The problem, to this reviewer’s ears at least, is that the demonstration in versatility is unnecessary when considering how well she handles her forte: Chicago soul. Make no mistake, when Patti Drew tackles material that suits her, she is PERFECT. Few if any other soul artists in 1967 can touch the high points of this album, and that includes Motown’s best and brightest.
Phil Wright‘s production and arrangements are rooted in the contemporary Chicago sound developed by Brunswick and Chess but also serve as the unacknowledged precursors to the incomparably lush sound of early 70s Curtom. The album is filled with many subtle arrangement flourishes: the jazzy piano fluttering around on the verses of “Tired of Falling In (and Out of) Love” surely made Donny Hathaway sit up and take notice. The build up to the chorus on that song is really tremendous, shedding light on the secret weapon of Chicago soul arrangers: the baritone sax.
It was an inspired choice to cover early Drew-Vels pseudo-hit “Tell Him“, slowing it down just a tad and updating the arrangement to provide Patti with one of her precious few bonafide chart hits. “I Can’t Shake it Loose” is a George Clinton-penned track that Funkadelic would release as a single 2 years later. Here it is led along by a jaunty piano figure, sounding closer to the Parliaments (for whom it may well have been intended) than Funkadelic. The album’s unquestionable highlight, and one of Patti’s most sought after tracks, is the Northern favorite “Stop and Listen“. A friend who has about a 15 year headstart on me collecting soul 45s describes this song as the most perfectly produced soul 45 he has ever heard.
Despite appearing on a major label, Patti Drew records are not a common sight. If you see any, I highly recommend picking them up.
Patti Drew – 1969 – Wild Is Love