Tuesday, 24 February 2009

David Ruffin - So Soon We Change - 1979 - Warner Brothers

Who can doubt that David Ruffin is one of THE voices of our time. He ranks with such giants as James Ingram and Peabo Bryson for possessing one of the best voices ever to grace the music scene. His troubled personal life make it a wonder in itself that he was able to record as much material as he did, and one can only wonder what he could have brought to us had he not passed away so tragically and needlessly back in 1991. It's not the Motown era we look at here, but the first of 2 albums he scored for Warner Brothers. This album, released in 1979 is possibly, by a whisker, the weaker of the two but still very much an essential album. If you take into account the opening track, "Let Your Love Rain Down" then you are not going to turn this down. The track simply oozes quality, class and dance floor sophistication. The irresistible mellow disco groove with slap bass, swirling strings and soulful sax is a fine match for David's ultra-soulful voice and along with tracks such as "Don't It Feel Good" by Booker T. Jones (see review) would make up a brilliant dance floor couplet today.

If you love quality ballads from this great era then "Break My Heart" is going to really appeal to you. Not far in style from what the likes of Michael Stokes was producing at the time. In fact, this album was produced by Detroit's very own Don Davis, and if tracks such as "Welcome Back Home" from the Dramatics are to your liking then so, too, will this be. The clomping hand clapper could work well in a modern room today. In a similar vein to the great "Caught Up In A Whirlwind" by Richard Stepp (also 1979) this could still prove a monster. The track that I really dig for it's lyrics and vocal style is "Morning Sun Looks Blue". This man really was a giant, and I miss him so much. The grand upbeat "Let's Stay Together" is a Don Davis-penned dancer and not the Al Green song. This is another candidate for a modern dancefloor. The melancholic title track is a good'un and sees the Man let rip fantastically over a horn-based downtempo number. Slightly schmatzy but still a good example of the man.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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