Side Effect – 1976 – What You Need

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Great jazzy Funk – Soul from this oft-overlooked 70s group.

This album’s a darn tough one to find — and is probably their best LP for Fantasy, if not their best of the 70s! The record contains their hit versions of “Always There” and “Keep That Same Old Feeling”, plus “Life is What You Make It” and “Honky Tonk Scat”. Nice jazzy soulful production, courtesy of Wayne Henderson/At Home Productions — and the kind of groove that was transforming modern soul at the time!

A1. Always There 5:04
A2. Keep That Same Old Feeling 7:06
A3. Time Has No Ending 3:55
A4. S.O.S 4:06
A5. Honky Tonk Scat 3:45
B1. Finally Found Someone 2:53
B2. Changes3:36
B3. Life Is What You Make It 2:54
B4. I Know You  Can 6:28

Side Effect reached its creative peak with the Wayne Henderson-produced What You Need, which was the group’s second album as well as its best one. This time, the songs weren’t simply decent — they were excellent, and Side Effect had a gem of a female vocalist to help bring them to life. The quartet’s new female singer was Helen Lowe, who had replaced Sylvia Nabors. While Nabors was competent, the brassy, big-voiced Lowe was a treasure — and she shows herself to be major asset on the hit “S.O.S.” and a remake of Ronnie Laws’ “Always There,” which was originally a soul-jazz instrumental in 1975 but becomes a gutsy vocal tune thanks to added lyrics by Paul Allen. Equally strong are the funky “Honky Tonk Scat,” the mournful ballad “Changes,” and a cover of the Crusaders’ “Keep That Same Old Feeling.” Regrettably, What You Need was Lowe’s only album with Side Effect, and it’s equally regrettable that she didn’t go on to become huge as a solo artist.

If the O’Jays, the Dramatics, or Bloodstone had added a female singer and incorporated bebop-influenced harmonies, they might have sounded something like Side Effect — a distinctive soul and funk vocal quartet of the ’70s and early ’80s. Side Effect was never a big name in R&B — and its material wasn’t as consistently strong as that of the O’Jays — but it did have a recognizable and appealing sound. The group was formed in Los Angeles in May 1972, when it started out as an all-male trio and consisted of Louis Patton, Gregory Matta, and leader Augie Johnson. The latter had been singing since childhood — in fact, Johnson was among the kids who sang on Frank Sinatra’s 1959 hit “High Hopes.” Side Effect became a quartet when, in 1974, Johnson, Patton, and Matta decided to add a female vocalist and hired L.A. native Sylvia Nabors. In 1975, Side Effect signed with Fantasy and recorded its self-titled debut album, which was, like subsequent efforts, produced by Wayne Henderson of Crusaders fame. By the time Side Effect recorded its second album, What You Need, in 1976, Nabors had been replaced by Helen Lowe. Then, in 1977, Lowe was replaced by Sylvia St. James, who recorded with the group in 1977 and 1978. St. James’ subsequent replacement was Miki Howard, a talented singer who sang with the group for a few years before signing with Atlantic in 1986 and becoming well known as a solo artist.

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Conversation for album: Side Effect – 1976 – What You Need

  • DJ Abe
    Posted at 02:01h, 10 May 2008 Reply

    Thank you…..

  • Eddie
    Posted at 04:14h, 07 January 2009 Reply

    This Side Effect album is rare, a true rare find. Back in the very early 80’s I spent hours and hours, much to the frustration of girlfriend in tow, looking through dusty old second hand record store basements in Camden Town, London with one aim in mind – to find this album. It never happened. Instead one day whilst driving Ellie home to her rural Kent village called Snodland, which had about 7 stores total, she got out of the car to get something from the grocer so I decided to get out of the car too and casually popped into the Post Office and there in a rack of cut-out records was Side Effect – The Greatest Hits with the track Always There included – I had found the track I searched long and high for but never the album from whenst it came. Now you lucky people only need to click the click and its yours thanks to Nikos so don’t miss out. Me I’m still standing, stunned in that Post Office looking at that album thinking “how in gods name did you get here in these racks, am I dreaming, is somebody playing a trick on me?”

  • Mr sam
    Posted at 11:37h, 03 March 2009 Reply

    very good album. Thanks so much!!!

  • Aaahlex
    Posted at 15:20h, 04 July 2009 Reply

    Nice story DJ Abe. I found the album 2 after a long search.

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