D J ROGERS; Love Brought Me Back (Soul Music Records)

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Not too many soul folk know too much about D J (Dewayne Julius) Rogers. Emerging from a Gospel background, he enjoyed a short but productive secular career in the second half of the 70s but when major success became a fading dream he returned to his Gospel roots. Thanks to David Nathan’s Soul Music Records we can now enjoy one of Rogers’ key, secular long players – 1978’s ‘Love Brought Me Back’. The album was originally released on Columbia via Maurice White’s Kalimba production company. Prior to working with White and Columbia, D J Rogers had recorded for RCA. There, he enjoyed critical acclaim with albums like ‘On The Road Again’ and songs like ‘Say You Love’ Me’ (later covered successfully by Natalie Cole) but the success he craved never materialised at RCA. It almost came with Columbia’s ‘Love Brought Me Back’ as the set yielded the singer’s two biggest hits – the autobiographical title track and ‘All My Love’, while the album itself reached # 54 on the R&B chart. Two further White-mentored albums (on the Columbia subsidiary ARC) failed to have real impact and Rogers went back to working in Gospel.

By any standards ‘Love Brought Me Back’ is a fine 70s soul album and deserves investigation by anyone who’s yet to discover Rogers. The album’s title track is madly infectious. Riding a bumpy bass line, it has a hint of disco – but totally without the cheese. ‘Joy From You’ offers more up-tempo optimism while the best ballad is the dreamy ‘When Love Is Gone’ – built from the same ingredients as the man’s classic ‘Say You Love Me’. ‘You Take Me Higher’ rides a Brazilian rhythm and on ‘Hold Me’ (another great ballad) Deneice Williams offers up some sweet, teasing backing vocals. Indeed the album features a plethora of top session players and backing singers – people like Michael Wycoff, Patrice Molten, Patrice Rushen, Keni Burke, James Gadson, Charles Wilson and Paulinho Da Costa all add to the album’s lustre, begging the question as to why the set wasn’t much more successful. I guess we’ll never know… but at least we can now re-enjoy a long-forgotten soul classic from a hugely underrated talent. (This reissue, by the way, offers the original album’s 9 tracks along with 5 bonus tracks –various single edits of the two above-mentioned singles.)

(BB) 4/5