Soulmusic.com’s latest twofer turns the spotlight on a pair of mid ’70s album from Nancy Wilson. The Ohio-born chanteuse made her recording debut way back in 1959 when she signed to Capitol records who cast her as a kind of lounge jazz singer with a particular penchant for big Broadway show tunes and she was never considered a soul singer. Despite that her sixties output did yield one bona fide soul classic – the perpetual tear-jerker, ‘Face It Girl, It’s Over’- the B-side of which – ‘The End Of Our Love’ went on to became a Northern soul classic!
By the 1970s Miss Wilson wasn’t selling many records. Her clinical style was considered passé and her repertoire was considered dated. Enter Capitol exec, Larkin Arnold who was tasked with reinventing an artist whom the label’s big animals really believed in. He decided to get Nancy to start recording songs written by people like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and the Philadelphia crew and Gene Page was brought in to supervise the sessions. Two successful albums – ‘All In Love Is Fair’ and ‘Come Get To This’ – ensued, winning her a new audience without losing any of the old fan base… and the two LPs paired on this release were the lady’s next efforts.
1976’s ‘This Mother’s daughter’ was produced by Eugene Daniels (Page had gone on to work with Barry White) and the set featured more original material than her previous two LPs. That might be the reason why no particular track stands out. Best of the bunch is the gentle ‘In My Loneliness (When We Were One)’ but with people like Chuck Rainey, Dave Grusin, George Duke, Steve Gadd and Ollie Brown in the studio the whole sound’s polished and slick.
For ’77’s ‘I’ve Never Been To Me’ Page was back behind the controls and he found some great songs – amongst them Lamont Dozier’s ‘Flying High’, Gary Wright’s ‘Love Is Alive’ and Ray Parker Jr’s ‘Car Of Love’. Charlene’s original version of ‘I’ve Never Been To Me’ was never popular with the soul crowd and the Nancy’s version clearly didn’t change that perception. The album only managed to scrape a #42 spot on the soul LP chart and after three more albums she duly left Capitol. These two LPs – though never classics – will be welcomed by the collectors; casual fans though will get a better snapshot of Nancy Wilson’s artistry by searching out a Capitol “best of” set.