The Sweet Inspirations – 1968 – What The World Needs Now

The Sweet Inspirations What The World Needs Now front

If one was cutting a soul, R&B, pop, rock, or girl group record in New York in the ’60s and needed female backup vocals, chances are they’d try to get the Sweet Inspirations first.

The group found their way onto numerous recordings, including hits by the Drifters, Van Morrison, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Garnett Mimms, and most famously, Aretha Franklin (with whom they sometimes toured). The group evolved from the ’50s gospel group the Drinkard Singers. At various points soul singers Doris Troy, Judy Clay, Dionne Warwick, and sister Dee Dee Warwick were members.

By the time they began to record on their own in 1967, their leader was Cissy Houston (mother of Whitney), and the women were renamed the Sweet Inspirations. As an Atlantic recording act, the group cut some fine sides that rank among the clearest illustrations of the close links between soul music and gospel harmony. Usually sticking to material by famed soul and pop songwriters, they had about a half-dozen moderate R&B hits in the late ’60s; the biggest, “Sweet Inspiration,” was a Top 20 pop single. Houston left the group at the end of the ’60s and the Inspirations left Atlantic in the early ’70s, sometimes working with Elvis Presley and recording the album Estelle, Myrna and Sylvia for Stax in 1973.

A1. Alfie 3:19
A2. What The World Needs Now Is Love 2:58
A3. To Love Somebody 2:42
A4. Watch The One Who Brings You The News 2:38
A5. Am I Ever Gonna See My Baby Again 2:55
A6. Unchained Melody 3:25
B1. You Really Didn’t Mean It 2:58
B2. Walk In My Shoes 2:21
B3. Where Did It Go 2:41
B4. I Could Leave You Alone 2:16
B5. That’s How Strong My Love Is 2:13
B6. I Don’t Want To Go On Without You 2:57

The Sweet Inspirations What The World Needs Now back

By Kent Browning

Hailed as one of the greatest ensemble groups in R&B history The Sweet Inspirations (CISSY HOUSTON, ESTELLE BROWN, MYRNA SMITH, AND SYLVIA SHEMWELL) were not as big as they should have been in terms of popularity. Compared to album sales for MARTHA AND THE VANDELLAS, THE SUPREMES or THE RONNETTES they were not at the top. But with one listen you become aware that they were by far more talented and polished. The main reason could be that ATLANTIC records employed them as session vocalists for every big act or solo performer at that time. If one markets their album really well maybe they are not available to perform on everyone else’s record? (Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Esther Phillips, Wilson Pickett)
Be that as it may that didnt stop them from releasing some stellar soul music. 

The Sweet Inspirations What The World Needs Now label1

The title track is slammed from beginning to end with the vocal power and mesmorizing harmonies this group can provide. One of the best versions of the great song ever! Their version of “Alfie” clearly overshadows Dionne Warwick’s version. The whole release is consistent with first class production and special readings of classics by THE BEE GEES “To love somebody” and even OTIS REDDING “Thats how strong my love is“.

The original “You really didnt mean it” is pure soul balladry as Cissy again takes lead on a song about a love that wasnt meant to be.
One of soul music’s institutional groups deserves better recognition then they got when they were together.

A great release. Pick it up and enjoy. There is so much to savor!


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Conversation for album: The Sweet Inspirations – 1968 – What The World Needs Now

  • William Jam
    Posted at 00:38h, 23 September 2016 Reply

    Thanks Mom and Dad for exposing me to rich music in the early 70s, I’m still spinning records in 2016.

  • John Towns
    Posted at 19:18h, 23 September 2016 Reply

    Listen to that high quality harmony!

  • Nobodythanme
    Posted at 19:20h, 23 September 2016 Reply

    I can still see myself on the dance floor! Great memories.

  • Julie
    Posted at 19:39h, 23 September 2016 Reply

    Thanks so much for this Awesome post! It is a real inspiration to hear, and play over and over.

  • Maligno
    Posted at 23:46h, 23 September 2016 Reply

    Wonderful girls of my youth. My teenage sons like a lot of the same music I grew up with.

    Posted at 17:06h, 24 September 2016 Reply

    Wowwwww….dobra stvar …. ide u moju datoteku…

  • Solar fire
    Posted at 18:10h, 24 September 2016 Reply

    Nice to listen to this great classic again……..Great classic! Good harmony!

  • Lars
    Posted at 12:44h, 25 September 2016 Reply

    Thanks a lot for these cream of the crop of Soul music

  • Nikim
    Posted at 09:54h, 26 September 2016 Reply

    Wonderful share. thank u.

  • Laverne
    Posted at 11:34h, 27 September 2016 Reply

    Many thanks – class lp!

  • Alfie
    Posted at 18:57h, 27 September 2016 Reply

    What a great piece of 60’s soul. Nice to have it in a really good rip. Many thanks for sharing.

  • Damien
    Posted at 19:06h, 27 September 2016 Reply

    One of the best girl groups ever

  • Ras
    Posted at 22:31h, 27 September 2016 Reply

    Wonderful !

  • Demelo2
    Posted at 22:31h, 27 September 2016 Reply

    Love it

  • Derek
    Posted at 16:59h, 29 September 2016 Reply

    always so much quality here.
    keep up the good work mate!

  • rich
    Posted at 00:51h, 30 September 2016 Reply

    thank you nikos

  • Larry James G.
    Posted at 18:58h, 30 September 2016 Reply

    one of my favorites from the Inspirations. Good work.

  • Tony Beck
    Posted at 18:11h, 01 October 2016 Reply

    Their harmonies, the passion…….what’s not to like? I had the cd, ripped it and gave it to another friend and then my external died. So thank you for another chance.

  • Nobelart
    Posted at 10:37h, 02 October 2016 Reply

    Been listening this for years, Still one of my very favorite groups of soul/pop.

  • Alanis
    Posted at 11:26h, 02 October 2016 Reply

    my god I still love this! Thanks mom for playing music like this, I truly appreciate you for that!!!

  • Grumpy
    Posted at 16:22h, 10 October 2016 Reply

    Thank you!

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