BARBARA MASON: Lady Love (Label: Soul Brother)

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‘Lady Love’ is Soul Brother’s second Barbara Mason reissue and it brings to CD for the first time the Philly’s chanteuse’s wonderful 1973 Buddha album which has long been a much sought after item by Philly collectors… and its easy to hear why. Lovers of the classic Philadelphia sound are always beguiled by sumptuous, slinky, sophisticated ballads and of the original LP’s 7 cuts, 6 are just that. Each one so perfectly defines that particular sound that it’s hard to pick a standout. If pushed we might go for ‘Caught In The Middle’ – redolent of the best of Thom Bell’s work with the Stylistics and the Delfonics… but then there’s a quite excellent distaff perspective on Billy Paul’s ‘Me And Mrs. Jones’. Every bit as good are ‘Who’d Ever Think’, a version of Stevie Wonder’s ‘All In Love Is Fair’ and a song from the soundtrack of ‘Gordon’s War’ -‘I Miss You Gordon’. Then, with an extended version of ‘Bed And Board’ (a song featured on Barbara’s previous Buddha album), it’s little wonder than within the soul community Ms. Mason became known simply as ‘Lady Love’. The only up-tempo item is ‘World Ward Three’ – a loose, funky workout that clocks in at almost ten minutes. It allows the famous Philly session players (Norman Harris, Ron Kersey, Bobby Eli, Earl Young, Ronnie Baker, Leon Huff, Don Renaldo et al) to stretch out just a little. As with most Soul Brother reissues this CD boasts a welcome bonus cut – ‘Child Of Tomorrow’, another song from the ‘Gordon’s War’ movie and a perfect compliment to the original album – long a collectors’ item, the LP needs to be grabbed now!
(BB) 4/5