THE EMOTIONS: ‘Sincerely’ (Label: Expansion)

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THE EMOTIONS: 'Sincerely'

Performing from an early age in their local Chicago church as the Hutchinson Sunbeams (or sometimes the Heavenly Sunbeams) harmonising siblings Sheila, Wanda and Jeanette Hutchinson morphed into The Emotions in 1968 and eventually, after cutting a few sides for some local indie labels, landed a deal at Memphis-based Stax/Volt. They scored a Top 3 US R&B smash with their Volt debut 45, ‘So I Can Love You’ in 1969 and although other hits followed for the Stax subsidiary between ’69-’74 they were unable to break into the Top 10 again until they left Volt and joined Maurice White’s Kalimba Productions at Columbia. Under the aegis of the Earth, Wind & Fire leader – who transformed the group’s sound – The Emotions achieved a massive crossover chart topper in the shape of “Best Of My Love” in 1977. After a rich vein of form for Columbia that lasted until 1981, the girls returned on the independent Red Label, though with non-family member, Adrianne Harris, deputising for Jeanette. Though production-wise, ‘Sincerely’ with its synthesisers and drum machines bore little resemblance to the epic EW&F-style arrangements that had come to define The Emotions’ ’70s sound, thanks to the sympathetic efforts of ex-Deco keyboardist, Zane Giles and his partner Billy Osbourne, the girls’ signature vocal sound remained intact. 22 years on, ‘Sincerely’ is still eminently listenable – Sheila’s and Wanda’s breathy, cotton candy vocals are a delight throughout, but especially on the tracks ‘All Things Come In Time,’ ‘You’re The One’ – a Top 40 US R&B hit – and the brilliant ‘I Can Do Anything.’ Appended to the original 9-track album are five bonus tracks, three of which first appeared on the girls’ next recording venture, 1985’s ‘Eternally’ album for Motown (an album I didn’t rate too highly at the time due to the fact that the Zane Giles’ arrangements were overly synthetic). The other two bonus cuts are extended mixes of the dance-oriented Red Label single, ‘You’re The Best.’ Apparently there’s a new Emotions album in the pipeline – but until that appears, this will do very nicely…
(CW) 4/5