Thelma Jones – 1978 – Thelma Jones
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The first album from Thelma Jones – and a real standout set from mid 70s Columbia! The record is a sweet blend of southern and modern soul, with some fantastic arrangements by Bert DeCoteaux, who also produced the set in a wonderful way that lets Jones retain the deeper qualities of her vocals, but also glide nicely on some warmer modern touches. There’s a really unified feel to the whole record, and tracks are a range of work by 70s song writing greats that include Sam Dees, Leon Ware, Grey & Hanks, and Gamble & Huff. Features the excellent single How Long, her signature tune, the Brad Shapiro produced ballad Salty Tears, and a whole lot of sides overseen by Bert DeCoteaux, the best of which – the mid tempo I Can Dream, and a trio of Sam Dees songs including the trademark slowie Lonely Enough To Try Anything – stand up well.
A1 I Second That Emotion 3:56
A2 Lonely Enough To Try Anything 3:28
A3 Now That We Found love 4:54
A4 Angel Of The Morning 3:55
A5 I Can Dream 3:53
B1 How Long 3:28
B2 Stay Awhile With Me 4:22
B3 I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love 3:48
B4 I Want What You Want 4:10
B5 Salty Tears 3:35 Thelma Jones began her career in 1966 and became a singles artist. Her first album did not appear till 12 years later in 1978. The self titled THELMA JONES was released at the time disco reigned supreme and that is something that will not be found here at all. This album is pure classic soul and jazz. The first single was a remake of I SECOND THAT EMOTION of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. Also included on this album are versions of The O’Jays’ NOW THAT WE FOUND LOVE as well as the evergreen ANGEL OF THE MORNING which had previously been recorded by Dusty Springfield and Nina Simone.With Thelma’s touch it found a new unique style and ruled the charts. Thelma Jones was always a mature, emotional and vocally gifted artist. She had a strong voice with husky overtones and a great range. I’D RATHER LEAVE WHILE I’M IN LOVE gets an amazing interpretation by Thelma. It was being recorded by many artists at the time and has been recorded by many since but Thelma purists find hers to be the essential recording.
Standouts here are the sultry ballad LONELY ENOUGH TO TRY ANYTHING, the funky urban soul of HOW LONG and the heart wrenching soulful slow jam of STAY AWHILE WITH ME. I WANT WHAT YOU WANT is an uptempo r&b track that Ms. Jones runs with. There are no misses out of all the tracks here and the true stand out above all others is the classic emotional tearjerker SALTY TEARS. This one track alone is worth owning this album.
This album has remained a testament over time of classic r&b and soulful jazz of the 70s. Thelma Jones never became a true recording artist. Even with the success this album saw she never recorded another album til 2006. BBR presents this classic soul gem on cd in all its glory. For those who have always loved Thelma Jones this is a must and for those new to her this is a must for it shows a true soul/jazz/r&b artist in her prime. Soul does not get better than this. Highly recommended (By Barry, Amazon review).
Review By Derek Anderson
Although Thelma Jones’ career started in 1967, when she released her first single The House That Jack Built on Barry Records, it wasn’t until 1978 that she released her debut album Thelma Jones. Produced by legendary producer Bert DeCoteaux, who previously, had produced Marlena Shaw, Linda Lewis and The Main Ingredient Thelma Jones is an album of quality soul music. Incredibly, it wasn’t until 2006, that Thelma released the follow-up to Thelma Jones, Low of Old. Thankfully, after being out of print for far too long, Thelma Jones rereleased on BBR Records. On Thelma Jones, are ten tracks, including cover versions of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles’ I Second That Emotion, The O’Jays’ Now That We Found Love and Angel of the Morning written by Chip Taylor. Also included on the album is Thelma’s earlier single Salty Tears, which was originally released on Columbia.
Working with some of the biggest names in gospel, it looked as if Thelma was destined for a career as a gospel singer. However, when Thelma sang at the famous Apollo Theatre’s amateur night her career path changed. In the audience was James Hazley, who convinced Thelma to let him manage her and managed to get Thelma her first record deal, with Barry Records. Now signed to Barry Records, Thelma released a string of singles, cutting the original version of The House That Jack Built, later made famous by Aretha Franklin. During her time at Barry Records, Thelma immersed herself in the technical side of music, being coached by Big Maybelle.
Although Thelma recorded enough material to release an album for Barry Records, they seemed only interested in releasing singles. After hearing one of her Barry singles Never Leave Me, Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records heard Thelma’s music and decided to sign her to Atlantic. However, this would prove to be an opportunity lost for Thelma. With a new contract signed, her new label Atlantic, decided to send Thelma to the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, where she’s record her first material for her new label. However, after a difference of opinion between Thelma’s manager James Hazley and Bobby Lance, Thelma’s contract with Atlantic was cancelled. Having left Atlantic, Thelma would sign with Columbia in 1975.
Having signed to Columbia, Thelma would return to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios to record her next single Salty Tears. This was a much more positive experience than first time around, with Salty Tears giving Thelma a minor hit. After this, it would be two more years before Thelma’s debut album would be released in 1978.
To produce Thelma’s debut album Thelma Jones, producer Bert DeCoteaux was hired. He produced nine of the albums ten tracks, with Salty Tears previously produced by Brad Shapiro. A strong collection of material was chosen, written by some of the most talented songwriters. This included three cover versions on Thelma Jones. Second That Emotion was co-written by Smokey Robinson, while Gamble and Huff cowrote Now That We’ve Found Love and Chip Taylor Angel of the Morning. Sam Dees contributed two tracks, Lonely Enough To Try Anything and I Want What You Want. Van McCoy was another of the big name songwriters contributing tracks to Thelma Jones, with Stay Awhile With Me co-written by him.
With the songs chosen, recording began on Thelma Jones, with a tight and talented band accompanying Thelma. This included Funk Brother Bob Babbit playing bass, drummer Jimmy Young, guitarist Lance Quinn and backing singers Gwen Guthrie, Brenda White and Ullanda McCullough nine new tracks were recorded at the Mediasound Studios. Now that the album was recorded, Thelma Jones was set for release in 1978.
Eleven years after her debut single was released, Thelma released her debut album Thelma Jones. Sadly, Thelma Jones wasn’t a commercial success, failing to find favor with American record buyers. Similarly, the first single released from the album I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love wasn’t commercially successful, although the second single would prove more popular. This was Second That Emotion, which reached number seventy-four in the US R&B Charts. After this, Thelma wouldn’t release another album for twenty-eight years. However, Thelma but would continue to prove a popular live act, while her debut album Thelma Jones was known as a hidden gem among soul aficionados and connoisseurs, and a hidden gem.
Truly, there isn’t one poor track on Thelma Jones. With Thelma’s versions of Smokey Robinson’s Second That Emotion, The O’Jays Now That We’ve Found Love and Carole Bayer Sager’s I’d Rather Stay While I’m In Love she reinvigorates these songs, breathing new life into them and they’re amongst the best cover versions of these tracks that I’ve heard. Add to these tracks two great songs written by Sam Dees, with Lonely Enough To Try Anything heartfelt and moving, while I Want What You Want is joyous and uplifting. Meanwhile, I Can Dream, co-written by Leon Ware is hidden gem, one to cherish and treasure, while Stay Awhile With Me, co-written by Van McCoy is impassioned and powerful. Why an album of the quality of Thelma Jones wasn’t a commercial success seems incredible. Truly, Thelma’s debut album Thelma Jones is very definitely an overlooked, hidden gem of an album. Anyone who loves either soulful, jazzy or funky music will adore this stunning album. As if the ten tracks on Thelma Jones aren’t enough, there are a trio of bonus tracks included on BBR Records remastered rerelease on March 2012. This includes a third gem from Sam Dees, Love Look What You Got Me Into and You’re the Song (That I Can’t Stop Singing). The single version of Second That Emotion is the third bonus track included on Thelma Jones. Standout Tracks: Lonely Enough To Try Anything, I Can Dream, Stay Awhile With Me and I’d Rather Stay While I’m In Love.