Thursday, 19 February 2009

Michael Henderson - Goin' Places - 1977 - Buddah

'He's brilliant - A tasteful, inventive musical genius with a voice that's a unique instrument'. If Roberta Flack had made this comment about me I would be very happy indeed. Michael Henderson is one of my idols and I make no apology for loving this man's soulful vocal work. He is a complete artist: a virtuoso bass player, a refreshing writer and as the L.A. Times accurately pained, 'as remarkable a singer and showman as he is an instrumentalist. The biggest names in the music business also look up to this towering man. He's worked with the likes of Norman Connors, Phyllis Hyman, The Dramatics, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger and - of course - Miles Davis. This sublime piece of sultry 70s soul has always been close to my heart, and my only wish is that they would be re-issued on CD. The Right Stuff brought them out back in 1994 but with less than inspiring artwork. This man and these albums deserve a serious reissue project which is crafted out of love and respect.

Of the album itslef, I really feel the balladry more than the uptempo material. Tracks such as "Whip It" were good in their day, but I believe the following choices have, without question, outlasted them. Take the title track as an example. Vocally, Michael is at the top of his smooth game and the use of a string arp, acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes seal this as a well-crefted and delivered slice of 70s soul. My favourite is the smoocer "Let Me Love You", complete with Herbie Hancock on Fender Rhodes, Ray Parker, Jr on guitar and Ollie Brown on percussion. Michael himself adopts his powerful Bass skills and the result is humbling. I wish he would get back to the studio to record material like this today. "I Can't Help It" is another smash for me, Michael utilising a serious vocal scale, dropping from a rich, resonant bass one minute to a sweet tenor the second. The stars also come out to shine on "At The Concert" - Roberta Flack, Gwen Guthrie sand Ullanda McCullough boosting Michaels soul power by real magnitude on this deliciously jazzy number. If ever you need to remember how great the 70s was, aside from the Disco nonsense, then dig this album out and give it a spin.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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