Band members Related acts
- Lyn Collins (aka Gloria Lavern Collins) (RIP 2005) -- vocals
- The Female Preacher
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Think About It
Country/State: Lexington, Texas
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)
Catalog ID: 141
Perhaps because she died relatively young (56), was overshadowed by her long standing mentor James Brown, or was a woman working in a genre dominated by men, the late Lyn Collins stands as one of soul's most overlooked female performers.
Collins started her recording career as a teenager, waxing a couple of obscure singles over the years. There are a couple of stories as to how Collins caught James Brown's attention. One story is that her husband/ manager/concert promoter sent Brown a demo tape. Another is that Collins promoter husband happened to handle the James Brown Revue and brought his wife to Brown's attention. Regardless, Brown expressed an interest in Collins, recording a couple of tracks with her in 1971. One was tapped as a single:
- 1971's 'Wheels Of Life' b/w 'Just Won't Do Right' (King catalog number 45-6373)
Shortly after the single was released, Brown's backing singer Vicki Anderson quit and Collin formerly joined the James Brown Revue. While the debut single didn't do a great deal commercially, Brown was sufficiently impressed to finance a solo album on his own People label. Not to underplay Collins considerable talents, but Brown's fingerprints were all over 1972's "Think (About It:)" In additional to producing the collection, he contributed four of nine selections, arranged some of the tracks and brought in his backing band The JBs for support. Needless to say there was a distinctive James Brown presence throughout the album. That's not meant to downplay Collins talents in any way. Blessed with a stunning voice (and quite the looker), Collins had a deep, growling voice that was easily as good as better known contemporaries such as Barbara Acklin, Betty Davis or Millie Jackson. She also had a fascinating edge to her voice that managed to give quite a few of these tracks an unexpectedly sexy edge. On the downside, like a lot of female soul singers, Collins didn't write her own material, so that left her fully dependent on outside parties. She certainly could have done worse than James Brown, but in a couple of instances her choice of cover material was questionable. The other downside was a problem endemic through mid-1970s singers - namely a tendency to over-sing. As exemplified by her cover of Bill Withers' 'Ain't No Sunshine', when Collins pushed her limits the results became shrill and irritating.
Not the perfect album, but I'll label it an overlooked classic since the title track is amazing and there are enough other successes to warrant looking for a copy.
(About It)" track listing:
1.) Think (About It) (James Brown) - 3:21 rating: ***** stars
James Brown may have written and produced 'Think (About It)', but Collins sizzling performance proved she owned it. Imagine what Aretha Franklin did to Otis Redding's 'Respect' and you'll have an idea of what Collins did with 'Think (About It)'. If you've never heard the song, take my word for it - this is one of the most righteous slices of female empowerment you'll ever hear. Supported by Brown's backing band The JB's at their funkiest ( you can also hear Brown grunting, laughing, and yelling in the background as well), Collins cut loose warning every lying, cheating male piece of crap out there that they were living on borrowed time ... Yes, I admit it, we guys are pigs. Collins got it right. Easy to see why People tapped this as the lead-off single. The drum breaks are legendary and the track's also been sampled to death (Rob Base and DJ E-Z, Roxanne Shante, Twenty 4 Seven, Janet Jackson, etc.).
- 1972's 'Think (About It')' b/w 'Ain't No Sunshine' (People catalog number PE 608)For anyone interested, YouTube has a clip of Collins lip synching the song on Soul Train: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjL3--NfZqA
2.) Just Won't Do Right (James Brown) - 2:59 rating: *** stars
'Just Won't Do Right' was a '50s-flavored, doo-wop flavored power ballad. Perhaps not the most original number on the album, the song served as a wonderful showcase for Collins' dynamite voice. Unable to stay away from the spotlight James Brown shows up on backing vocals. I've always loved the cool percussion arrangement.
3.) Wheels of Life (Joe Valentine - Johnny Terry) - 3:02 rating: *** stars
A funky little soul number that had previously been released On King Records as a single, 'Wheels of Life' has always reminded me a bit of one of those early Marvin Gaye tracks that were commercial, but still had an intriguing raw edge. In this case the edge resulted from some barely in-tune piano. You literally kept waiting for the keyboardist to mess up and have the song come crashing down around Collins.
4.) AIn't No Sunshine (Bill Withers) - 2:49
Collins cover of Bill Withers 'Ain't No Sunshine' could have been amazing, but this time out she fell victim to the dreaded Janis Joplin over-singing phenomenon. Pushing her vocals, the results came off as shrill and irritating. Shame, though it served to underscore what made Withers' low-keyed original such a pleasure.
5.) Things Got To Get Better (James Brown - Alfred Ellis) - 3:25 rating: **** stars
Even without looking at the credits within the first five beats you could tell that 'Things Got To Get Better' was another James Brown-penned and produced effort. With the JBs pounding away in the background, the song returned Collins to a funky environment, letting her vamp her way through one of the album's most commercial numbers.
Hard to imagine I'm saying this, but Collin cover of Jerry Butler's 'Never Gonna Give You Up' was almost as good as the original. Musically her cover didn't stray far from the original arrangement, but she replaced Butler's sense of detached resignation with some real fire and desperation. One of the album highlights. Here's another YouTube clip of a Collins performance on Soul Train. This one is interesting given its a live performance and if you look in the background, you can see James Brown conducting the JBs (yeah, the band look a little uptight having Brown in their faces). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiTUaKKLEaY
2.) Reach Out for Me (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 3:30 rating: *** stars
Dialing back the energy a couple of notches, Collins turned in a nice cover of Bacharach-David's 'Reach Out for Me'. While the original was a touch on the MOR side, Collins growling voice reset the song in a tasty soul setting, giving it a very commercial edge.
3.) Women's Lib (James Brown) - 5:17 rating: ** stars
Don't get me wrong, I have no problems with the sentiments expressed (though it's always struck me as kind of funny to picture James Brown writing the feminist lyrics). Unfortunately with 'Women's Lib' Brown managed to avoid all the charm of the earlier 'Think (About It)' . Instead, this time around he churned out a bland, plodding, and frankly boring slice of acidic rhetoric that probably served to offset a lot of the benefits the earlier song created. Yech !!! Everything about this one, including Collins in-your-face vamp, her over-singing, and the chirping background singers was cringe inducing.
4.) Fly Me To the Moon (Bart Howard) - 2:45 rating: **** stars
What the world ... I guarantee you've never heard anyone turn out a cover of 'Fly Me To the Moon' like this one ... The impact is going to be even greater if you're familiar with the Kaye Ballard original, or Frank Sinatra's 1964 cover. Imagine Collins channeling Sly and the Family Stone and you might get a feel for this blazing funk work out. Possibly the best song on the album !!! James Brown must have been proud of this performance.
Collins recorded a 1975 follow-up "1975 Check Me Out If You Don't Know Me by Now" and then returned to the shadows as a backing singer.
People catalog number PE-6605
Nearly two decades later Collins resumed her recording career with a single on the Belgian ARS label.
- 1989s 'Shout (The Toddy Mix)' b/w 'Shout (Radio Version)' (ARS catalog number ARS 3730)
In 1993 Jamaican dancehall star Patra partnered with Collins to do a cover of 'Think (About It)':
- 1993's 'Think (About It)" b/w '' (Shang catalog number 9870-77075)
The single generated considerable attention throughout Europe and a steady string of club and concert performances, including a 2005 European solo tour. Shortly after the tour completed Collins died from a cardiac arrhythmia.
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