Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Thelma Houston - Breakwater Cat / Never Gonna Be Another One - 1980 / 1981- Funkytown Grooves USA

Dare I say it, but I'm not the greatest fan of Thelma Houston but still to this day love her 1985 smash "Hold Me So Tight" which was, of course, a classy production from Jam & Lewis when they had their own special, magical sound. This two-fer will definitely appeal to fans of the Lady and for me the CD only really starts on track 11 which is her latter LP, "Never Gonna Be Another One". For these ears the 1980 set is too listless and weak and Disco-fied and seems to be quite messy production-wise. The 1981 album hits the ground running with a sax-filled, funky guitar lickin' midtempo called "Never Give You Up" which is SUPERB! This is the material that suits Thelma Houston well, and it towers over the previous year's meagre offering. Tracks like this make the whole reissue more than worthwhile and yet again I cannot thank the Funkytown Grooves chappies enough for making this type of material available on CD.

Next up is the warm and summery "There's No Runnin' Away From Love" with THOSE great, warm Fender Rhodes keyboards and smooth backing vocals. The production and instrumentation is fluid yet stylistically tight and directed, totally overshadowing tracks 1 - 10. If funky guitar licks and Keni Burke styles drum rhythms are your bag then I suggest the BRILLIANT midtempo effort "If You Feel It" which is a real breath of fresh air. I love this song and so pleased to now have this on glorious CD! Ending the set is another gem, "Hollywood" which also adds weight to the second half of the CD. Vocally Thelma Houston is on top form here, and songs like this make me wonder how we may have experienced her vocals with the backing of - say - Chic or Jaques Fred Petrus. Sadly this never came to pass, BUT this type of song gives us an indication and on the strength of the four aforementioned cuts I heartily recommend this CD!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe