The Soul Children – 1972 – Genesis
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With over a dozen soul and R&B hits to their credit, it is a shame The Soul Children aren’t more better remembered for their contributions. These last two records for the original Stax label are quality, top-notch soul ,but at this point the Stax label wasn’t too far away from bankruptcy and a lot of records were criminally under-promoted. I think “Genesis” is particularly stellar and it’s my favorite of the two, perhaps because it has more of a gospel deep-groove swing to it, and a lot of people feel that “Friction” was their peak.
1972’s “Genesis” has a great set of songs contributed from the likes of Eddie Floyd, Chicago’s Bobby Newsome, and Bettye Crutcher. The backing musicians included members of the reconstituted M.G.’s and The Bar-kays and also feature Howard Grimes (of Hi Records) on the drums for what may be my favorite song here – the very first. It should probably surprise nobody that a vocal group put together by Dave Porter and Isaac Hayes (who played on their early records) would be adept at the type of long slow-burner that opens up the album, “I Want To Be Loved”. They dig into this tune with an impassioned flare that sets it apart from Hayes’ epic cool delivery, however.
After a suspenseful minute’s worth of subdued build-up, the rhythm section drops out as Anita and Shelbra launch into some intense gospel harmonies and eventually a brief sermon crowning love over the material things in life, and then Blackfoot comes tearing in with his gritty response and ups the ante. The group on “Genesis” reminds me a little of the early records by label-mates The Emotions, but with the added bonus of a male-female dynamic. The bigger of the hits on this record was “Hearsy”, penned by Blackfoot and West, and it has a very M.G.-ish vibe to it, which is fine, but it also may be the least interesting song on the record. “It Hurts Me To My Soul” is a favorite of mine here, and in fact I played it on one of my podcasts.
A1 I Want to Be Loved 8:38
A2 Don’t Take My Sunshine 3:59
A3 Hearsay 3:38
A4 All That Shines Ain’t Gold 4:05
B1 It Hurts Me to My Heart 3:00
B2 I’m Loving You More Everyday 4:52
B3 Just the One (I’ve Been Looking For) 3:20
B4 Never Get Enough of Your Love 4:30
B5 All Day Preachin’ 3:55
B6 Get Up About Yourself 4:12
The most creative LP waxed by Stax’s Soul Children! The title, as well as the striking cover art, hint at the back to the roots (GOSPEL roots) movement that runs throughout this entire disc.
Opening with a retooled version of Willie Hightower’s “I Want to Be Loved”, you know you’re in for something special here. Encompassing everything from traditional soul ballad stylings to fervent gospelfide wailing and belting, Shelbra Bennett and her male counterpart J. Blackfoot go for a call-and-response routine for eight minutes while the other half of the Children, John Colbert and Anita Louis, chime in the mantra-like ‘Oh, you are my rainbow’-chant at the end of this ethereal piece. Mind blowing soul…
Next up is the group’s take on Johnnie Taylor’s “Don’t Take My Sunshine“, reworking the (nonetheless brilliant) more pop-oriented version that appeared on Taylor’s ‘One Step Beyond’ LP into another heavy, slow grinding country church romper.
Hard-socking Sam & Dave styled funk makes up “Hearsay“, a #5 R&B smash, co-written by Soul Children J. Blackfoot and John Colbert, while the former’s gruffy, raspy baritone delivers a smoldering bit of testifyin’ on the low-key “All That Shines Ain’t Gold“.
The most gloomy sentiments are reserved for the minor-keyed, haunting message track “It Hurts Me to My Heart“, which is Isaac Hayes-ian in its arrangements. The shimmering strings in the back create a moody, almost morose atmosphere while Al Jackson’s plodding drums keep the beat lamenting on and on…
Shelbra takes the spotlight on the church piano-driven ballad “I’m Loving You More Everyday” and the slightly Carribic “Never Get Enough of Your Love“, whereas another Johnnie Taylor tune, the jubilantly bouncing “Just the One (I’ve Been Looking For)“, is another group effort.
Totally in sync with the album’s tenure is Bettye Crutcher’s hand-clappin’ gospel-soul jam “All Day Preachin‘”, as is the beefy, funky, message-driven closer “Get Up About Yourself“.
A deep, deep Southern Soul experience…
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