Terry Callier – 1972 – What Color Is Love
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Terry Callier’s What Color Is Love is an essential Soul Jazz album that should belong in anyone’s record collection.
Produced by Charles Stepney, whose work with Cadet / Chess records, Rotary Connection and Earth, Wind & Fire earned him popular acclaim. Filled with Funk, Rock, Folk, Jazz, and even Classical influences, vocalist Callier can be heard on this album to the most intriguing heights.
“Dancing Girl” opens the album with Stepney’s majestic orchestration. Songs like “What Color Is Love” and “Ho Tsing Mee“, an elegant antiwar prayer of confusion, somehow avoid clichés or take them to another level. “You Goin’ Miss Your Candyman” was featured in the French movie, Intouchables.
Callier’s passionate voice captures the sweeping drama of the human condition. A lost romantic amid “concrete frond yards,” this album is a must-have for any music connoisseur.
A1 Dancing Girl 8:58
A2 What Color Is Love 4:04
A3 You Goin’ Miss Your Candyman 7:20
B1 Just As Long As We’re in Love 3:40
B2 Ho Tsing Mee (A Song of the Sun) 4:20
B3 I’d Rather Be With You 6:38
B4 You Don’t Care 5:28
By Mark Barry
At about 1:58 into the astonishing “Dancing Girl” (the opening nine-minute track of “What Color Is Love”) it gets very quiet and the acoustic guitar holds the speakers alone – then Don Myrick‘s tasteful sax work floats in followed by keyboard flourishes and some wickedly arranged strings by Charles Stepney… The effect is absolutely magical…
And after you’ve put your jaw back into place, you’re left standing there with a genuine incomprehension… how has something this lovely and genuinely soulful been forgotten? Why isn’t this huge??
“What Color Is Love” was released on LP in March 1973 in the USA on Cadet CA 50019 and is the second of three albums Callier made for the Chess offshoot label Cadet in the Seventies – the first was “Occasional Rain” in 1972 and the third was “I Just Can’t Help Myself” in 1975.
As well as the wonderful breath of “Dancing Girl” – highlights include the huge build up on Side One’s closer “You Goin’ To Miss Your Candyman” (co-written with Phyllis Braxton), the “I-must-hit-the-road but I wanna…” soft-soul of “I’d Rather Be With You” (co-written with Larry Wade and Jerry Butler) and the so 5th Dimension girly vocals of Kitty Haywood, Shirley Wahls and Vivian Harrell on “You Don’t Care” – a song so up with hippy-love-and-harmony that it may have some of you going to work in a sunny disposition on the drizzliest of Monday mornings…
Phil Upchurch features on Guitar throughout, while another soul-hero associated with the album is Charles Stepney who arranged, conducted and produced the project to such sweet effect (also played keyboards). He was involved in The Rotary Connection with Minnie Riperton, produced four albums with The Dells and even twiddled the knobs on the iconic and now much-vaulted psych-blues-fusion album “Electric Mud” by Muddy Waters. I’d personally scour down anything he had a hand in – a genius…
Like Marvin Gaye‘s “What’s Going On”, Donny Hathaway‘s “Extension Of A Man”, Stevie Wonder‘s “Innervisions” and Callier’s predecessor to this “Occasional Rain” – this is a proper soul album – a gem all the way through and still beautiful and inspiring to this day – some 40 years after the event.
Why isn’t the LP artwork of this masterpiece on someone’s t-shirt somewhere as the ultimate street-cool – who knows? But you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Of late Terry Callier has morphed (like Richie Havens) into a sort of elder statesman of soul still spreading his gospel of love and understanding – check out “Timepeace” from 1998 – unbelievably good and relevant to the now and not just past glories.
I’ve warbled on a bit I know, but this album and its predecessor “Occasional Rain” both deserve it.
Buy it, cherish it, enjoy it – and I envy you the journey…