For the past 27 years sweet-voiced soul man Ron Tyson – renowned for his seraphic falsetto – has been a member of the legendary Detroit vocal quintet, The Temptations. But he doesn’t hail from the fabled Motor Town – he’s actually Philly born and bred (though he was raised in North Carolina) and cut his first record at the age of seven as part of his grandfather’s group, the Southern Gospel Six. In the late-’60s, Ron joined Philly group, The Ethics, which morphed into Love Committee, a disco-soul act that recorded hits for Ariola (‘Heaven Only Knows’) and Gold Mind (‘Cheaters Never Win’) in the latter half of the ’70s. During the same timeframe, Ron was a regular session vocalist at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound studio where he often worked with producer Norman Harris. Also, and perhaps more significantly, he established himself as a noteworthy songwriter, his work appearing on albums by The O’Jays, Loleatta Holloway, The Trammps, The Dells and Joe Simon. So even if he hadn’t joined The Temptations in 1977, Ron Tyson would still have a place in soul music’s Hall of Fame.
Given Ron Tyson’s musical pedigree and big reputation, this new album has been keenly anticipated by the soul community and they certainly won’t be disappointed by what he’s cooked up with noted producer/songwriter Preston Glass on the classy, 15-track ‘Recipe 4 Love.’ It begins with a moody, mellow, slow jam, ‘All The Good Ones,’ where gently pulsing kick drum beats and warbling keyboards frame Tyson’s supremely soulful falsetto voice. By contrast, the excellent ‘Got My Swagger Back’ is a dance floor-oriented uptempo number and has a hint of the Spinners in its musical DNA – it’s characterised by a rolling groove (the sort that drummer Earl Young used to be renowned for) and an infectious chorus where a tinkling keyboard doubles Tyson’s vocal line.
The slower, warmly-harmonised ‘My Sweet Lady’ is helmed by former Earth, Wind & Fire guitarist, Sheldon Reynolds and along with the slightly sombre ‘No Journey Too Far,’ the plaintive ‘Lonely Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’ and the sensual ‘Recipe 4 Love’ (featuring some sultry saxophone licks) illustrates Tyson’s prowess as a romantic balladeer. Another highlight is ‘Before The Real Hurting Starts,’ a slinky mid-tempo duet about romantic reconciliation co-starring Detroit chanteuse Freda Payne. It was penned by legendary Philly songwriter, Vinnie Barrett, who’s also the co-writer of the uptempo ‘Unconditional Love’ which possesses a gentle funk undertow that underpins Tyson’s sweetly soulful vocals. Another standout is the mid-paced ballad, ‘Bluer Shade Of Blue,’ which has echoes of ’70s Philly group, Blue Magic.
A cohesive, consistent, well-produced set boasting strong songs and outstanding vocal performances, ‘Recipe 4 Love’ won’t disappoint fans of real soul.