Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Thelma Jones - Thelma Jones - 1976 - Columbia

Thelma Jones career was very short-lived, with a few 1960s singles such as "Stronger" and "Souvenirs Of A Heartbreak", and this LP. Thelma promised a great deal and had more than enough to offer. Another one of those artists who were lost in action from an early stage and left us all scratching our heads. This 1976 album for the mighty Columbia label should have acted as a firm foundation for an illustrious career, yet it was not meant to be. We are left, however with this highly collectible album – now available on Japanese CD courtesy of Sony. I have to say that the album is solid and acts as a showcase for Thelma's talents, and the likes of Leon Ware, Bert De Coteaux, Brad Shipiro, Gwen Guthrie, and Ullanda McCullough also support Thelma with their writing, arranging, production and vocal talents.

This album is celebrated for 2 main songs, one being brought to the forefront by Richard Searling in the early 1990s through his excellent Soul Sauce show and Columbia's “Soul Souvenirs Vol. 1” compilation – now a rarity in itself. “How Long” has a really infectious rattling groove with flute and funky guitar paving the way for some seriously sassy and no-messin' vocals. Ex-JB Bob Babbit completes some funky bassline and Jimmy Young rattles off a few choice drum rolls, Thelma, however in total control with her quivering, barely tempered passion and pain and so amounts to one of the strongest mid 70s soul cuts you are ever likely to hear. Our second pick is Leon Ware's inclusion, “I Can Dream” with strings, percussion and tropical island flavour, and is very similar musically to what he was serving up with both Syreeta and Marlena Shaw at this period. One track that really needs elevating to such a status is the gorgeous floater that appears as a special bonus cut on the CD. It's the brilliant 1978 7" release "You're The Song I Can't Stop Singing", which was flipped by "Salty Tears". The CD is worth buying for this gem alone. You should be able to pick this up - not exactly cheap BUT...

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe