MS. (SHARON) RIDLEY: ‘Full Moon’ (Tabu)

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I never thought that I’d live to see the day when this album was reissued. Originally released by Clarence Avant’s Tabu label when it was in its infancy in 1978, the album wasn’t a commercial success – even though it deserved to be – and Ms. Ridley (whose previous album, the collectable ‘Stay A While With Me,’ which was helmed by Van McCoy in 1971 for Sussex Records and remains unissued in the digital age) was enveloped by the cold, grey blanket of obscurity never to be heard of again.

I must confess that I first bought this album for a fiver in the late ’80s at a record fair largely due to its alluring front cover and the fact that the set was produced by the brilliant Jerry Peters (also, its supporting cast included a stellar list of session cats; among them drummer James Gadson, guitarist Marlo Henderson, bassist David Shields, and synth maestro, Michael Boddicker). As it transpired, ‘Full Moon’ turned out to be a forgotten gem of a record distinguished by one truly great performance – an epic Jerry Peters’ co-penned original called ‘Changin’.’ The groove – disco-infused but slower than most mirrorball monsters – still hypnotises with its effortless fluidity and stylistic panache while Ridley’s ethereal voice floats over a backdrop of jazzy keys, horns and strings expressing a sense of yearning that imbues the track with a sense of euphoric tension.

Almost as a good – though the mood is more playful – is Ridley’s self-penned luna-themed closing title cut, which melds jazz with soul on an uptempo groove that possesses a mysterious aura largely due to Peters’ shimmering keyboards. Impressively, Ridley, in fact, composed six of the album’s nine tracks, including the baroque soul ballad, ‘Forever Yours,’ the driving dancer, ‘Guess I’m Gonna Have To Say Goodbye’ and the shimmering mid-tempo cut, ‘Nothing Else Means More To Me.’ The covers are good, too – both are Smokey Robinson retreads (‘You Beat Me To The Punch’ and ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’) but Ridley injects her own idiosyncratic style and personality into them to make them distinctive.

There are two bonus cuts on this first ever reissue – a 7-inch single edit of ‘Changin” and an eight-minute Hot Tracks remix of the same song. The album’s also available on 180 GM vinyl. Definitely one of the best reissues in the newly resuscitated Tabu back catalogue.

(CW) 4/5