VARIOUS: The Skip Scarborough Songbook (Expansion)

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Skip Scarborough is one of soul’s great unsung heroes. The Baton Rouge born writer has penned some of soul’s most memorable love songs but for whatever reason his name’s not up there with the “greats”. Hopefully this new 18 track Expansion compilation will help put matters right. It’s been put together by Ralph Tee with the help of Skip’s wife, Alton McClain Scarborough, and between them they’ve selected some truly classic readings of Skip’s best songs.

It starts with Maxi Anderson’s 1977 ‘Lover To Lover’ and ends with Bobby Humphrey’s ‘Dancin’ To Keep From Cryin” – recorded in the same year. In between there’s some big names – Earth Wind And Fire, Dionne Warwick, The Emotions, Phyllis Hyman, Freda Payne, Jerry Butler and Thelma Houston. The last two duet on the Motown dancer ‘Let’s Get Together’ and it’s one of the album’s real high spots. Other goodies include Wilbert Longmire’s laid back ‘Love’s Holiday’ and Rockie Robbins’ ‘I Can Hardly Wait’ (that one produced by the great Johnny Pate – another undervalued soul back room man!)

Everyone of a certain vintage will find absolute favourites here – I keep coming back to the delicious melody of LTD’s ‘Love Ballad’… a truly great song and a reminder of what a fabulous vocalist Jeffery Osborne is. Good too to see that Alton McClain and Destiny have an inclusion. It’s their 1981 Polydor outing, ‘Why Did You Love Me’ – as typical of the art and craft of skip Scarborough as any other cut here. Skip sadly died in 2003 and Alton is working hard via a musical charity to keep his name out there. This lovely album is bound to help.

(BB) 4/5