Copeland, Ruth

Band members               Related acts

- Michael Becker -- horns (1976)

- Randy Becker -- horns (1976)

- Francis Centeno -- bass (1976)

- George Clinton -- (1971)

- Ruth Copeland -- vocals (1976)

- Tiki Fulwood -- drums (1971)

- Eddie Hazel -- guitar (1971)

- William Houcher -- backing vocals (1976)

- Steve Jordan -- drums (1976)

- Robin Kenyatta -- sax, flute (1976)

- Bob Kulick -- guitar (1976)

- Jimmy Maelen -- percussion (1976)

- Jesse Rae -- backing vocals (1976)

- Ralph Schuckett -- keyboards (1976)

- Eric Thorngren -- guitar (1976)

- John Turi -- keyboards (1976)

- Dick Wagner - guitar (1976)

- Bernie Worrell -- keyboards (1971)




- none known




Genre: rock

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Self Portrait

Company: Invictus

Catalog: APL1-1236

Year: 1971

Country/State: Consett, Durham UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: includes insert lyric booklet

Available: 1

GEMM Catalog ID: 

Price: $10.00


I first became aware of Ruth Copeland as a result of discovering her early 1970s collaborations with George Clinton.  The fact she didn't have a great voice was certainly overlooked by the fact she happened to be one hot looking woman  ...  Besides, I was always curious how a woman from Consett, Durham UK ended up in Detroit, working with the likes of George Clinton and Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland.


The late-1960s found Copeland attending school as an art major.  Following the unexpected death of her mother she dropped out of school, moving to London where she began singing with a number of bands, including Ed and the Intruders.  Copeland immediately began attracting an audience, but decided to move to the States where she had an older sister.  Making her home in Detroit she met and married former Motown producer/songwriter Jeffrey Bowen.  When Bowen left Motown and signed with Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland's newly formed Invictus Records his new wife became one of the first acts signed to the upstart label.   


Copeland's first effort for Invictus was part of the short-lived studio group The New Play (Copeland, Ron Dunbar and Eddie Wayne).  The group survived long enough to release a one shot single.  Credited to 'The New Play featuring Ruth Copeland',  'The Music Box' b/w 'Gift of Me' (Invictus catalog number Is 9072) served as the label's second single and disappeared almost instantly.  


Having co-produced George Clinton and Parliament's Invictus debut "Osmium", Clinton and company repaid the favor providing extensive support on Copeland's cleverly-titled 1971 debut "Self Portrait".  Unfortunately the simply hideous cover art served to give you notice that this one was going to be ugly ...  you also had to wonder how Invictus' marketing department managed to mis-package such a hot lookin' woman.  Side one certainly made you wonder why Invictus signed Copeland.  Original material like 'Prologue', 'Child of the North' and 'The Silent Boatmen' (previously recorded by Clinton and Parliament) were overblown and nauseatingly pompous.  Full of pseudo-intellectual crap and overblown arrangements, this stuff was so bad that even a hack like Richard Harris would have rejected it.  Even wilder (and weirder) was the side two closer.  Adapted from 'Madame Butterfly', 'Un Bel Di (One Fine Day)' started out like a traditional opera, before morphing into a fuzz guitar-propelled rocker.   No, I'm not making this up.  Giving credit where due, a couple of tracks were actually listenable.  Propelled by Eddie Hazel's fuzz guitar 'Your Love Been So Good To Me' was a nice (if atypical) rocker and the funky and effects filled 'I Got a Thing for You Daddy' was pretty wild.  Elsewhere listening to the album I've always laughed at critics who've compared Copeland to Janis Joplin.  At least to my ears on material like 'Thanks for the Birthday Card' and 'No Commitment' Copeland sounded more like Olivia Newton John than Joplin.  In fact the only comparison I've found between the two is that both had a tendency to over sing, giving much of the material a screechy feel.  


"Self Portrait" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Prologue   (Ruth Copeland) - 

2.) Child of the North   (Ruth Copeland) - 5:40

3.) Thanks for the Birthday Card   (Ruth Copeland) - 4:29

4.) Your Love Been So Good To Me   (Ruth Copeland - Lucius Ross - George Clinton) - 3:16

5.) The Music Box   (Ruth Copeland - Eddie Wayne - Ronald Dunbar) - 3:40

6.) The Silent Boatman   (Ruth Copeland) - 5:50


(side 2)

1.) To William In the Night   (Ruth Copeland - G Alexander) - 2:50

2.) No Commitment   (Ruth Copeland) - 3:19

3) I Got a Thing for You Daddy   (Ruth Copeland - Eddie Hazel - George Clinton) - 3:42

4.) A Gift To Me   (Ruth Copeland - Eddie Wayne - Ronald Dunbar) - 1:52

5.) Un Bel Di (One Fine Day)   (adapted from Madame Butterfly) - 5:50



Genre: rock

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Take Me To Baltimore

Company: RCA Victor

Catalog: APL1-1236

Year: 1976

Country/State: Consett, Durham UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: original inner sleeve with lyrics

Available: SOLD


Price: SOLD


1976 saw Copeland reappear with her first studio set in five years.  Produced by Ralph Moss, my first impression of "Take Me To Baltimore" was less than overwhelming.  While Copeland's bluesy voice remained in fairly good form, the lead off selection 'Win or Lose' and 'Here You Come Again' all but smothered her with bland melodies and hackneyed over-orchestration.  Luckily, if you give the LP a couple of spins it revealed a couple of minor treasures.  Co-penned with Howard Harris, 'Oh Baby' was a nice ballad, while 'Clichés' was a decent slice of lite funk and the title track offered up a nice up-tempo rocker.  Nothing fantastic, but worth hearing if available at a reasonable price.  Elsewhere the set was notable for Daryl Hall's unexpected participation.  Hall was credited with co-writing 'Heaven' and ''Milky Way Man'' and also provided backing vocals on the two tracks - you could just hear him in the mix.  Needless to say, the LP vanished without a trace, as did Copeland.


"Take Me To Baltimore" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Win or Lose   (Jesse Rae) - 

2.) Milky Way Man   (Ruth Copeland - Daryl Hall) - 

3.) Oh Baby   (Ruth Copeland - Howard Harris) -  

4.) Here You Come Again   (Ruth Copeland - Eric Thorngren - John Turi - William Houcher) - 

5.) Clichés   (Ruth Copeland - Eric Thorngren) - 


(side 2)

1.) Heaven  (Ruth Copeland - Daryl Hall) - 

2.) Take Me To Baltimore  (Ruth Copeland - Dick Wagner) - 

3.) Some Hearts Need To Sing the Blues   (Ruth Copeland - John Turi) - 

4.) If You Don't Want My Love   (Ruth Copeland - Eric Thorngren - John Turi) - 

5.) Senses   (Ruth Copeland - Eric Thorngren) -