MICHAEL HENDERSON; Wide Receiver (Super Bird)

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This is the Super Bird label’s second dip into Michael Henderson’s back catalogue and it follows their release of his 1978 Buddah set ‘In The Night Time’. The bassist/crooner released ‘Wide Receiver’ two years later and it followed much the same template – that’s to say there’s a mix of funky movers and decent quiet storm ballads. Of those ballads the best are the two big covers – a take on Bacharach and David’s ‘Reach Out For Me’ and a stab at the Motown chestnut ‘Ask The Lonely’ – but neither approach the quality of the originals. ‘Reach Out For Me’ is stark by comparison to the symphonic Dionne Warwick version while it’s a given that it would take a mighty effort for anyone to come anywhere near the passion and commitment of Levi Stubbs. Henderson does a competent job and it’s always interesting to hear new approaches to long-loved classics.

Buddah clearly knew that the balladry wouldn’t ignite so they lifted the funky title cut as the LP’s lead single. It was a good choice. ‘Wide Receiver’ hit no. 4 on the R&B singles chart and the follow up – the tight, snappy ‘Prove It’ – did almost as well. Both now sound a tad dated. Elsewhere on the LP the self-penned ‘You’re My Choice’ has a touch of the George Bensons about it while Michael makes a decent fist of the shuffling Lou Courtney song ‘I Don’t Need Nobody Else.’

Super Bird is rapidly building up a decent catalogue of vintage soul and though the albums they release aren’t (usually) iconic or classic, they do allow old timers to revisit and enjoy what I’m sure they consider a golden age.

(BB) 3/5