Sunday, 15 February 2009

Blue Magic - Thirteen Blue Magic Lane - 1975 - Atlantic

This is an album I really, really wanted to own on CD. Thanks to Collecatbles stateside this is now possible, and also thanks to iTunes where you can also download a digital copy! In my humble opinion "Thirteen Blue Magic Lane" is the best album Blue Magic released, and boy have they released some wonderful stuff over the years! I am a sucker for Philly Soul, as you've already deduced, and it is inconceivable to think that this album is anything short of an essential purchase. The late, great Norman Harris and Ron “Have Mercy” Kersey are joined by Ron Tyson, Al Felder and Richie Rome on a solid 9-tracker of classic soul. You have probably noticed from the song titles that this album (what was side one at any rate) has a definite theme. Yes, all things spooky are on order, and the cover sports an amazingly clever piece of artwork. After all these years had I noticed that the trees had faces in the branches. I was never truly an observant person, as you’ve probably gathered! The group start of in a very impressive way with their gorgeous take on the Little Anthony & The Imperials 70s number, “The Loneliest House On The Block” – they indeed make it their own with more brass than the luscious strings of Thom bell, but still retaining that wonderful Philly flavour. This is an equal to the original, and if you are not familiar with the earlier version please check out the “On A New Street” album (another that begs for CD reissue and will be reviewed here on Soulchoonz.)

Ted Mills’ vocals were always moresome, and this is the same for the light and breezy “Chasing Rainbows”. This is classic 70s group soul at its very, very best. The showstopper for me has to be the essential “Born On Halloween” – a classic in every sense of the word with sumptuous strings and rhythm guitar – complete with cackling witch! – married to the catchiest hook that your ears are likely to encounter. I dug this album out on vinyl last summer and my 3 year old daughter latched onto this song and merrily sung the chorus to herself for days on end. Yes, definitely Daddy’s little girl!!! “Haunted (By Your Love)” keeps the cauldron smouldering and continues with the cheerful and melodic “I Like You”. Fans of First Choice’s “Got To Get Away From You” and “Armed And Dangerous” will lap up the racier numbers such as “Magic Of The Blue” and –albeit clich├ęd – “We’re On The Right Track”. I smile when I hear these as we can see where the original Charlies’ Angels TV show got some of their incidental music ideas from! LOL. “Stop And Get A Hold Of Yourself” has an introduction that reminds me of “If You Can’t Think Of Anybody Else“ by the gorgeous Dianne Steinberg (oh, another screaming candidate for CD release, please). The rest of the song is brilliant, too. Margie Joseph is another fantastic talent who we now have more reissues from, and her work here on the lovely ballad “What’s Come Over Me” still sound as fresh as a daisy. Please seek out her Johnny Bristol-produced Atlantic set “Feeling My Way” as that really is a great album too. I hope that between Collectables, Warners and iTunes here in the UK that Blue Magic’s entire Atlantic / Atco catalogue gets another curtain call. They sure do deserve it. And while we’re at it, why not have us have a new CD from the guys too? In the meantime though, this certainly will suffice.


Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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