required listening

CD Review


Don’t Ask My Neighbours : The Columbia/ARC Recordings (1976-1981)

Soul Music (UK) SMCR 51837X (3cd box)

FLOWERS... I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love; Me For You; You’ve Got The Right To Know; We Go Through Changes; Special Part; No Plans For Tomorrow; How Can You Stop Loving Someone; Flowers; God Will Take Care Of You; REJOICE... Best Of My Love; A Feeing Is; A Long Way To Go; Key To My Heart; Love’s What’s Happenin’; How’d I Know That Love Would Slip Away; Don’t Ask My Neighbours; Blessed; Rejoice; SUNBEAM... Smile; Love Is Right On; Time Is Passing By; Walking The Line; Ain’t No Doubt About It; Love Vibes; I Wouldn’t Lie; My Everything; Spirit Of Summer; Whole Lot Of Shakin’; Music Box; COME INTO OUR WORLD... What’s The Name Of Your Love; Cause I Love You; Come Into My World; On And On; I Should Be Dancing; Where Is Your Love; The Movie; Layed Back; Yes I Am; NEW AFFAIR... All Night Alright; Love Lies; Now That I Know; There’ll Never Be Another Moment; Turn It Out; New Affair; Here You Come Again; When You Gonna Wake Up; BONUS TRACKS... Boogie Wonderland (w/ Earth, Wind & Fire) (+ 12” version); I Should Be Dancing (single version); My Baby Dance; Changes; Where Is Your Love (single version); Don’t Ask My Neighbours (single version); Flowers (single version)

This nicely-packaged box set of the Emotions’ five albums issued in the period when they nestled very successfully under the umbrella of Maurice White and the Earth, Wind & Fire crew, spreads itself across three cds - the third also offering eight bonus tracks - and comes complete with a lavishly-illustrated and annotated 24-page booklet.  Originally billed using the Hutchinson family name as the Hutchinson Sunbeams and from a grounding in the church, first recordings for the small Tollie (as the Sunbeams), Brainstorm - from which time the Emotions’ name had been born -  and Twin Stacks labels preceded hit-making years at Stax’s Volt subsidiary.  Among the last acts to hang on with Stax until the writing was well and truly on the wall for its impending demise, a chance meeting with Charles Stepney, arranged by family friend, Ron Ellison, a Chicago promotion man, brought the girls into contact with Maurice White, visiting Stepney at the same time.  Revealing a batch of songs written from within the group, White was immediately interested and the Emotions were quickly signed to his Kalimba Productions which, at the time, used Columbia as its label outlet and would latterly morph this into the ARC (American Recording Company) label, distributed by the major.  A glance at our new R&B chart position feature at the end of this review will indicate just how successful a period the Emotions enjoyed at the time but the substance was far greater than just the hit tracks, boosted by the ability of the group members to write much of their own material as well as simply vocally deliver their exquisite harmonies.  Thus, taking a look/listen at specific non-chart tracks from each album, the 1976 ‘Flowers‘ album, ‘No Plans For Tomorrow‘ is a deliciously relaxed mid-pacer and ‘How Can You Stop Loving Someone‘ is a beat-ballad beauty while over on the following year’s ‘Rejoice‘ set, as well as the wondrous hit and overall title to this set, ‘Don’t Ask My Neighbours‘ - an absolute personal favourite - more enjoyment can be had by way of the lilting ‘A Feeling Is‘ (also the flip to ‘Best Of My Love’) and the gentle ‘Key To My Heart’.  CD-two pairs 1978’s ‘Sunbeam‘ and 1979’s ‘Come Into Our World‘, the former boasting the perky dancer, ‘My Everything‘ and the contrasting, jazz-slanted ‘Spirit Of Summer’, while from the latter - the first to bear the ARC imprint -  the title track, ‘Come Into Our World‘ takes us right into the disco we had already ventured into thanks to the Earth, Wind & Fire duet, ‘Boogie Wonderland‘ - a bonus track here - and there’s no let up with ‘Yes I Am’.  Speaking with ‘In The Basement‘ magazine in 2003, the group’s Wanda Hutchinson-Vaughn said she felt their final Kalimba offering, ‘New Affair‘ (1981) had been poorly promoted, that Maurice White’s hand was not sufficiently on the tiller and that he was perhaps spreading himself a little too thinly across various new activities.  It would lead to the parting of the ways though not the end of personal friendships but, nevertheless, the album itself did deliver, among others, ‘There’ll Never Be Another Moment’, at one time jerky at the next smooth and always perfectly harmonised and the simple and enchanting ‘New Affair‘ title track.

US R&B Chart statistics  (peak positions: BB = ‘Billboard’, CB = ‘Cashbox’)...

Best Of My Love  (Columbia 45, 10544)  -  BB 1, CB 1

Boogie Wonderland  (Earth, Wind & Fire w/ the Emotions)  (ARC 45, 10956)  -  BB 2, CB 3

Come Into Our World  (ARC LP, 36149)  -  BB 35

Don’t Ask My Neighbours  (Columbia 45, 10622)  -  BB 7, CB 3

Flowers  (Columbia LP, 34163)  -  BB 5

Flowers  (Columbia 45, 10347)  -  BB 16, CB 12

I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love  (Columbia 45, 10347)  -  BB 13, CB 10

New Affair  (ARC LP, 37456)  -  BB 46

Now That I Know  (ARC 45, 02535)  -  BB 68

Rejoice  (Columbia LP, 34762)   -  BB 1

Smile  (Columbia 45, 10791)  -  BB 6, CB 8

Sunbeam  (Columbia LP, 35385)  -  BB 12

Turn It Out  (ARC 45, 02239)  -  BB 48, CB 37

Walking The Line  (Columbia 10874)  -  BB 58, CB 73

What’s The Name Of Your Love  (ARC 45, 11134)  -  BB 30, CB 25

Where Is Your Love  (ARC 45, 11205)  -  BB 75, CB 76

Whole Lot Of Shakin‘  (Columbia 45, 10828)  -  BB 44, CB 40  /                                                                                                             

review posted 17/9/19