THE OVATIONS: One In A Million (Label: Kent)

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THE OVATIONS: One In A Million

This lovely 21 tracker is Kent’s second look at the work of underrated vocal group The Ovations. Where the first set brought together the group’s Goldwax recordings, this one assembles the sides they cut for the Sounds Of Memphis and XL between 1972 and 1978 and though the sound is very much of its time, there’s still plenty here that has travelled remarkably well. Those who know the Ovations will know that in lead singer Louis Williams they had a gifted and emotive vocalist whose voice bore an uncanny resemblance to the great Sam Cooke’s and indeed it’s a Sam Cooke medley that gave the group their biggest US hit. Under the umbrella title of ‘Having A Party’, the track meshes together five Cooke songs and, like the originals, this medley has an undeniable feel-good atmosphere. Other cuts with a real Sam Cooke feel include the ballad ‘Take It From One Who Knows’ and the gentle ‘Touching Me’. Elsewhere, the rolling ‘So Nice To Be Loved By You’ has a Bobby Womack flavour to it (hardly surprising since Womack was a Cooke acolyte), while the punchy ‘Till I Find Some Way’ is a hidden 70s gem. With Williams sterlingly supported by Nathan Lewis and Billy Boy Young, the Ovations were clearly not a one man team. The harmonies are superb throughout and apart from the Cooke link, you’ll constantly be thinking of outfits like the Manhattans, the Detroit Emeralds and the Trammps. That Trammps connection Is most obvious on ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’ where there’s more than a similarity to ‘Hold Back The Night’ and if you like that tight discofied sound you’ll enjoy the collection’s title cut too. Indeed there’s nothing here that’s not to be enjoyed; it’s all good, honest group soul and hopefully, together with Kent’s first Ovations’ collection, the group will at last achieve a wider notoriety.
(BB) 4/5