Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Caston And Majors - Caston And Majors - 1974 - Motown

This is a FANTASTIC album which was sadly overlooked at the time. Mainly, I think, as it was simply different, a step to the left for many, and I think it would be fair to say that Motown did not have a clue how to promote such a ground-breaking album. For me, given the right exposure today the album could become quite a cult favourite. However, those that did did indulge their time in the album were soon to realise what genius this set was. Indeed, I have not found anyone EVER who has not loved this set when I have played it to them. My ex-sister-in-law is, I fear, a product of the R&B/Hip-Hop generation but even her ears pricked up when she heard this LP. Again, my 7 year old daughter adores it and I have to keep it playing if she is in the vicinity! This LP is essentially a Gospel set produced, arranged and sung by Leonard Caston, a multi-talented musician and producer and veteran writer, producer and musician of the great Chess label, and he is joined by his wife Carolyn as well as Syreeta, on a set of tunes that are in a class of their own. This was, after all, the time of 'Godspell' and the album fits in nicely with this genre. The most well-known of all the tracks, “Child Of Love”, was a classic then and it remains a classic now. Fans of Eddie Kendricks solo work will already appreciate Caston's unique production style. If you love songs such as “Keep On Truckin'”, “Boogie Down”, “Then Came You” and “I Want To Live My Life With You” or “I Can't Quit Your Love” (check out the killer version by the Four Tops!) then you will know what to expect from this epic LP. “Child Of Love” rates as one of my all-time favourites.

The following song, “There's Fear”, is a very dramatic, almost operatic effort and one can easily see where the likes of Meatloaf (who was on Motown's Morocco roster at the time) got their ideas from! The excellent “Satisfied Mind (Sing)” is a more straight-ahead soulful pop effort, the song in two parts segueing into a righteous stomper. The song “Let There Be Love” is very much in the spirit of the Book of Genesis – if you're into that sort of thing – and is excellent as it builds up into a soulful crescendo. You have probably heard “I'll Keep A Light In My Window” before. The Temptations covered it admirably on their awesome “Truly For You” set back in 1984 and Smokey Robinson updated it again in 1994 on the “Motown Comes Home” set. Here is the rollicking original version which is, for me, the best. Lovers of Kendricks' later Motown years will appreciate this, the definitive version. “No One Will Know”, contains a great Norman Whitfield-styled groove complete with bass line and strings; the vocals too are of the same quality as throughout the album. “Everything Is Alright Now” is a crackin' tune and more akin to the Motown sound of the very early 70s. Indeed, legendary bassist James Jamerson appears, as does a young man called Jay Graydon! If you do not know this album, then I implore you to seek it out and try it. For some it may be an acquired taste but I can assure you that it is a superb album, something different and wholly unique. Motown should be credited for releasing it at all, and I think that this is one gem in black music history that has been hidden way too long. A limited CD release, please, Motown?

Barry Towler

The Vibe Scribe

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