Shirley Nanette - 1973 – Never Coming Back
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In the early seventies, Hank Swarn and Shirley Nanette collaborated on a project called ”Never Coming Back”. Swarn had been on the road for five years, lending his guitar-backing talent to Earl Grant and his band. While on tour, he wrote some tunes that were ultimately released on the ”Never Coming Back” album. Al Nanette approached Hank about putting together a record with Shirley, who was also keen on getting in the studio.
Luckily, Swarn already had songs to bring to the session. With the support some talented local musicians, the album was recorded-mostly in one or two takes-in a little over a week. Unfortunately, the album saw little exposure. Needless to say, this tremendous effort by Nanette, who continues to sing and perform in Portland, has touched the hearts of many who’ve recently heard the album for the first time.
A1 Give And Take 2:48
A2 I’m So Glad 2:37
A3 All Of Your Life 4:09
A4 Tropic Of Love 2:30
A5 Lime Light 4:25
B1 Heaven On Earth 2:41
B2 Sometimes 3:35
B3 Yours Truly Love 4:05
B4 People Are Thinking 3:10
B5 Never Coming Back 2:58
Back in the early 70s, guitarist Hank Swarn had been on the road for five years with Earl Grant‘s touring combo when he decided to record some of his own material at Ripcord Studios in Vancouver, Washington with the support of some talented local musicians – including organist Billy Larkin, Roy Eldridge sideman saxophonist George Lawson – along with jazz vocalist Shirley Nanette.
The resulting album, Never Coming Back, was finished in a little over a week and issued by the tiny Portland, Oregon-based Satara label back in 1973. Only 500 copies were pressed at the time which is probably why you haven’t come across it at your local record shop. Thank the fine folks at Truth & Soul and Magnetic Recordings for having the good sense to re-release two of the album’s best tracks as a limited-run single.
All of Your Life is a psychedelic dance floor heater that sounds like Marlena Shaw singing over a lost Jimi Hendrix instrumental. The flipside, People Are Thinking showcases Shirley Nanette’s belting power as she soars over an uptempo backing track with Ethio-style horn melodies snaking around a stone-solid soul bump.
Part of it is the diversity of styles on here…Nanette goes from bossa-tinged ballads to a more midtempo, soul/jazz tunes to Northern soul-style tracks to straight up funk songs. It’s like three or four different albums all thrown into one; quite unusual. But more than that, there’s something raw and affecting about Nanette’s performance. These are not hyper-polished songs and for those who can’t take too much “saxy sax,” this may test you at times, but as befits a private issue record, it’s coarse-ness is also part of its charm. “Give and Take” especially, floors me everytime; I love the vocal arrangement on here. It swings in all kinds of unexpected directions and drops in background harmonies at perfect moments.
I really could have plucked any random assortment of songs off this LP and it would have worked. In this case, I went with my absolute favorite “Give and Take” then threw in the other two to showcase the different styles on here.