MELBA MOORE and PHIL PERRY: The Gift Of Love (Label: Shanachie)

  • Home
  • Reviews
  • MELBA MOORE and PHIL PERRY: The Gift Of Love (Label: Shanachie)

Take two true soul singers, a clutch of classic songs, a sympathetic producer and a supportive label and you have the recipe for a great album. All those ingredients are here on this new eleven track collaboration, and the result is a fine soul album – not one that, in fairness, will set the musical world alight, but which will satisfy all those who still long for old fashioned values like passion, commitment and musicianship in the music they choose to buy. Melba Moore and Phil Perry are real soul veterans and need no kind of introduction here, save to say that their experience (especially their work in the church) shines through on every cut. Indeed the album opens with a version of a gospel classic – the Sounds Of Blackness’ ‘Optimistic’. This new take lacks the aggression of the original but that restraint allows sharper focus on the lyrics. The album boasts a number of other gospel songs – John P Kee’s ‘It Will Be Alright’, Perry’s own ‘Survival Kit’, producer Chris Davis’ ‘Give The Gift Of Love’ and a cover of the standard ‘I Believe’. That one is a solo from Melba and she brings freshness to what is familiar. Phil takes one solo too – a short revisit to his own ‘You Never Know’ – a song he first recorded on his ‘Magic’ album’. But it’s on the duets that this album really comes into its own as the two voices mesh and meld sympathetically. So though songs like ‘Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing’, ‘You’re All I Need To Get By’ and the Spinners’ ‘Sadie’ are like old friends, it’s good to hear them with a new twist. Maybe less well-known is Stevie Wonder’s ‘Weakness’ (a song that he recorded with Dionne Warwick for the ‘Woman In Red’ soundtrack) but again Phil and Melba make it their own and in many ways that’s the secret of this collection’s charm … fresh spins on old favourites delivered by two superb soul voices.
(BB) 4/5