The Originals


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1966)

- Henry 'Hank' Dixon -- second tenor 

- Walter Gaines -- baritone 

- Freddie Gorman (RIP 2006) -- bass 

- C.P. Spencer ((RIP 2004) aka Crathman Plato Spencer; aka  

  Spencer Craftman) -- lead and first tenor 

- Joe Stubbs (RIP 1998) -- vocals 

 

  line up 2 (1966-75)

- Henry 'Hank' Dixon -- second tenor

- Walter Gaines -- baritone 

- Freddie Gorman (RIP 2006) -- bass 

- C.P. Spencer ((RIP 2004) aka Crathman Plato Spencer;  aka  

  Spencer Craftman) -- lead and first tenor

 

  line up 3 (1975-81)

- Henry 'Hank' Dixon -- second tenor

- Walter Gaines -- baritone

- Freddie Gorman (RIP 2006) -- bass

NEW - Ty Hunter (RIP 1981) -- lead and first tenor (replaced  

  C.P. Spencer)

 

  line up 4 (1981-82)

- Henry 'Hank' Dixon -- second tenor

- Walter Gaines -- baritone

- Freddie Gorman (RIP 2006) -- bass

NEW - C.P. Spencer ((RIP 2004) aka Crathman Plato

  Spencer; aka  Spencer Craftman) -- lead and first tenor (replaced 

  Ty Hunter)

 

 

 

100 Proof Aged In Soul (Joe Stubbs)

- The Contours (Joe Stubbs)

- The Falcons (Joe Stubbs)

- The Fideltones (Freddie Gorman)

- The Five Jets (Henry Dixon, Walter Gaines and C.P. Spencer)

- The Five Stars (Henry Dixon, Walter Gaines and C.P. Spencer)

- Glass House (Ty Hunter)

- Freddie Gorman (solo efforts)

- Ty Hunter (solo efforts)

- The Qualitones (Freddie Gorman)

- The Romeos (Ty Hunter)

- Side Effect (Jim Gilstrap)

- The Spinners (C.P. Spencer)

- Joe Stubbs (solo efforts)

- The Thrillers (C.P. Spencer)

- The Voice Masters (Henry Dixon, Walter Gaines, Ty Hunter and 

  C.P. Spencer)

 

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Baby, I'm For Real

Company: Soul

Catalog: SS716
Year:
 1969

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD5455

Price: SOLD $15.00

 

I guess it's a testament to a record company like Motown (and Motown's various subsidiaries), that a group as talented as The Originals could be treated as a second tier act.  

 

In the late 1950s Freddie Gorman and buddy Brian Holland formed The Fideltones.  The group released a couple of sides for Aladdin Records before collapsing.  Gorman then took a 9 to 5 job as a postal carrier and while delivering mail met Berry Gordy.  By coincidence Holland had already been hired by Berry as a staff writer and producer.  One of Holland's projects was a song entitled 'Please Mr. Postman' which he turned to Gorman for help completing.  When The Marvelettes scored a chart topper with the song, Motown signed Gorman as a solo act on their small Miracle subsidiary.  Over the next couple of years he released a couple of solo sides and continued to write material with Holland and Lamont Dozier, but by the mid-1960s he'd returned to his postal job.   With partner Bob Hamilton Gorman continued writing as a sideline project.  He won renewed recognition when he placed '(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet' with The Reflections and was subsequently signed to the small Detroit Ric-Tic label where he cut a couple of solo sides.   Gorman and Berry Gordy then cross paths again when Motown bought out the Golden World/Ric-Tic label, acquiring his recording contact in the process.

 

As a Motown asset Gorman was promptly teamed with they newly formed The Originals -  Henry 'Hank' Dixon, Walter Gaines, C.P. Spencer (the three had previously been members of The Five Jets, The Five Stars, and The Voicemasters), and former Contours and Falcons front man Joe Stubbs.  Placed on Motown's Soul subsidiary the group were initially employed as backup vocalists for other Motown acts including The Temptations' David Ruffin, Jimmy Ruffin, and Stevie Wonder, eventually getting a shot at recording on their own with 1966's 'Good Night Irener' b/w 'Need Your Lovin' (Want You Back)' (Soul catalog number S-35029).  The single did nothing leading Stubbs to strike out in pursuit of a solo career and a stint in 100 Proof Aged In Soul.

 

 

Continuing as a quartet the group found themselves relegated back to studio back-up status.  They didn't record another single until 1969 at which point they released a string of three 45s in quick succession:

 

- 1969's 'We've Got a Way Out of Love' b/w 'You're the One' (Soul catalog number S-35056)

- 1969's 'Green Grow the Lilacs' b/w 'You're the One' (Soul catalog number S-35061)

- 1969's 'Baby, I'm for Real' b/w 'Moment of Truth' (Soul catalog number S-35066).  

 

Produced Marvin Gaye who also co-wrote the song with then-wife Anna, the latter single proved the group's breakthrough release.   Sporting a very retro, almost doo wop-ish sound with all four members handling lead segments, the single topped the R&B charts and also provided the group with a top-40 pop hit.  Recognizing a sales opportunity Motown quickly elected to cash-in on the group's unexpected success by releasing a supporting LP.  Cleverly entitled "Baby, I'm For Real" (you'll also see the album listed as "Green Grow the Lilacs") the set offered up a mixture of earlier singles and previously recorded but shelved tracks.  That probably explains why to my ears the set had such a strange feel to it - tracks like 'We've Got a Way Out of Love' (imagine Motown doing The Four Seasons), 'Green Grow the Lilacs' (imagine Motown doing The Association), and 'Red Sails In the Sunset' sounded positively old fashioned, while the fuzz guitar powered 'When Will We Learn', 'I've Never Begged Before' and 'Why When Love Is Gone' sported a far more contemporary feel and sound.  That weird mix of sounds made the LP quite different from most of the late-1960s Motown catalog and one of my favorite (if little known) Motown releases.  Sure there were a couple of sour notes - as an example the lead on 'Moment of Truth' was pretty out of tune and some of the retro ballads were a little on the lame side ('You're the One').  Still those complaints were pretty far and few between.  I know that's not a very helpful description, but at their best including the Gaye-penned 'One Life We Live' and 'When Will We Learn', these guys were every bit as good as their label contemporaries (how many groups can you name with four first rate lead singers) and had they been signed to any label other than Motown, they surely would have been megastars.  Propelled by the title track single and the follow-up single the parent LP eventually hit # 178 pop and # 18 R&B.

 

"Baby, I'm for Real" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) We've Got a Way Out of Love   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) - 2:59

2.) Green Grow the Lilacs   (Ron Miller) - 2:39

3.) Baby, I'm for Real   (Marvin Gaye - Anna Gaye) - 3:00

4.) I've Never Begged Before   (Ivy Lee Hunter - V. Bullock) - 2:39

5.) Red Sails In the Sunset   (H. Williams - J. Kennedy) - 2:25

6.) One Life We Live   (Marvin Gaye - Frank Gorman - Ivy Lee Hunter) - 2:56

 

(side 2)
1.) Moment of Truth   (Freddie Gorman -- Hank Dixon - Walter Gaines - C.P Spencer) - 2:57

2.) Why When Love Is Gone   (Ivy Hunter) - 2:44

3.) When Will We Learn   Ivy Hunter - M. McLeod - S. Bowden - Freddie Gorman) - 2:27

4.) You're the One   (Ivy Hunter - E. Stover - Anna Gaye - Marvin Gaye) - 2:59

5.) Love Is a Wonder   (J. Dean - W. Weatherspoon - M. McLeod - Freddie Gorman) - 2:44

6.) You, Mysterious You   (F. Evans - R. Morris - M. Broadnax) - 2:56

 

 

Unfortunately this is one of those outfits with a high mortality rate.

 

Hunter died in February 1981.  Stubbs died from a heart ailment in February 1998.  Spencer died of a heart attack in October 2004.  Suffering from lung cancer, Gorman died in June 2006

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Portrait of the Originals

Company: Soul

Catalog: SS724
Year:
 1970

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut out notch on right edge

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1542

Price: $15.00

 

So, if there was an album that managed to capture the strengths and weaknesses of the Motown creative and marketing schema, it might well be 1970's "Portrait of the Originals".  The 'good' took the form of The Originals' enthusiastic performances.   Even when they were saddled with second tier material Henry Dixon, Walter Gaines, Freddie Gorman, and C.P. Spence tried to squeeze as much as possible out of the material.  And when they were given an opportunity to record top notch material the results were the match for virtually any Motown group.   The 'bad' included Motown's mindless insistence  on padding the album with hideous popular covers such as 'Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)', 'Wichita Lineman' and My Way'.  Regardless of whether the intention was to pad out the album, or to attract a broader pop audience, some of these cover songs were just hideous and no amount of talent could have saved them.

 

"Portrait of the Originals" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Bells   (Marvin Gaye - Anna Gaye - Iris Gordy - Elgie Stover) - 2:58

Written and produced by Gaye (along with then wife Anna Gordy Gaye), 'The Bells' was a great soul single.  I'm normally not a big fan of schmaltz, but part of the song's charm rested with it's old school, pseudo-doo-wop feel (complete with bells), along with the amazing harmony vocals.  In fact the only complaints were the dumb spoken word segment and the fact  the song faded out just as it really started to cook.   Released as a single, it provided the group with their biggest chart success - # 12 pop; # 2 R&B.   rating: **** stars

2.) I Like Your Style   (Pam Sawyer - Frank Gorman - C.P. Spencer - Walter Gaines) - 2:50

As much as I love the lead off song, 'I Like Your Style' was even better.  Co-written by the group and Pam Sawyer, this one was a breezy, mid-tempo number, with a strong melody, a killer C.P. Spence lead vocal, and some of the best handclaps you've ever heard.   rating: **** stars

3.) There's A Place We'd Like To Know   (V. Dimirco) - 2:57

In spite of an impassioned vocal, 'There's A Place We'd Like To Know' was one of those big, overblown ballads that was simply boring.   rating: ** stars

4.) You May Not Like The Change   (J. Hinton - Henry Cosby - Pam Sawyer) - 2:58

Sporting an interesting melody that took some cool twists and turns (and incorporated some killer lead guitar)(, 'You May Not Like The Change' was one of the standout performances.  The track would have been even better had the strings been dropped from the arrangement.    rating: *** stars

5.) Don't Stop Now   (M. Hughes - C. Bureton) - 3:15

Another breezy ballad, 'Don't Stop Now' wasn't particularly original (this was the kind of stuff Motown churned out by the truck load), but in the hands of The Originals the performance proved surprisingly catchy.    rating: *** stars

6.) Since I Fell For You   (B. Johnston) - 3:00

Perhaps meant to cement the group's reputation as an adult act, 'Since I Fell For You' was a faceless, big ballad that was made even worse by the overblown string arrangement.   rating: ** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)   ( G. McDermot - G. Ragni - J. Rado) - 3:20

You've got to wonder what they were thinking when they decided to cover 'Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)'.  The good news is that their cover didn't stray far from the original 5th Dimension version.  That was also the bad news.   rating: ** stars

2.) You Want Hearts And Flowers   (C. McMurray - M. Coleman) - 3:05

Another ballad, 'You Want Hearts And Flowers' was interesting in that it sounded a lot like something The Chi-Lites, The Dynamics, or The Stylistics might have recorded.  Very commercial with a dynamite hook and would have made a killer single.   rating: **** stars

3.) Just Another Morning -(R. Miller - T. Baird)  3:00

The album's most pop-oriented song, 'Just Another Morning' actually sounded like one of those sunshine pop songs that groups like The Association rode to the top of the pop charts.  That may not have sounded like a ringing endorsement, but this one was actually one of the album highlights.  Be sure to check out the harmony vocals at the end of the song.  Amazing performance.   rating: ***** stars

4.) Wichita Lineman   (Jimmy Webb) - 3:05

Never liked the Glen Campbell version of 'Wichita Lineman' and this version doesn't do anything to improve the song.  Yech !   rating: * star

5.) I'll Wait For You   (Marvin Gaye - S. Leskey) - 2:36

The second Marvin Gaye penned track, 'I'll Wait For You' was interesting, if hardly the best song.  The song structure itself was kind of cumbersome and The Originals didn't sound all that comfortable on this one.   rating: *** stars

6.) My Way   (Paul Anka - Francois - Revaux) - 3:25

Give me a break ...  could you get anymore MOR than covering 'My Way?  What a horrible way to end an album.  rating: * star

 

The album was tapped for a pair of singles:

 

 

- 1970's 'The Bells' b/w 'I'll Wait for You' (Soul catalog number S-35069) 

- 1970's 'I Like Your Style' b/w 'We Can Make It' (Soul catalog number S-35074)

 

Had it not been for a couple of unnecessary MOR cover tunes on side two, this could have been a top shelf Motown album.  Even with that shortcoming it's still pretty good.  The set hit  # 198 on the pop charts and R&B # 47 on the R&B charts.

 

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Def-i-ni-tions

Company: Soul

Catalog: S734L
Year:
 1972

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2856

Price: $15.00

 

In spite of their considerable talent including several members who wrote their own material, The Originals were hardly one of Motown's best known groups.  For better or worse, 1972's "Def-i-ni-tions" gives you a pretty good idea of why they were also-rans for the company.   This version of the group featured Henry 'Hank' Dixon, Walter Gaines, Freddie Gorman, and  C.P. Spencer.   While their collective sound wasn't particularly original, each member was a talented lead singer and collectively their voices blended as well as any other group in the Motown stable (explaining why they were used as backing singers on so many Motown songs).  The main problem with this one was the hackneyed song selection and arrangements.  Motown management seemingly couldn't decide if they want The Originals to appeal to a mainstream white audience, or a more contemporary soul audience,  The end result was a dysfunctional mess of an album that was cluttered with hideously arranged pop standards like 'The Exodus Song', 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', and a cover of Bread's 'Make It with You'.  Sadly, far superior soul sides like the original 'Come Rain or Shine', 'I Got a Need for You' and 'I'm Someone Who Cares' came off as afterthoughts.  Shame they weren't treated better by the label.

 

"Def-i-ni-tions" track listing:
(side 1

1.) The Exodus Song  (Pat Boone - E Gold) - 2:47   rating: *** stars

The opening cover of 'The Exodus Song' encapsulated everything that was wrong with this album.  Admittedly their version was far better than most versions (think along the lines of Pat Boone's version, or the sappy Andy Williams take), but it remained far too MOR-ish for The Originals' own good.   About the best thing you could say is that it was painless.

2.) The World Can't Stop Me (From Loving You)   (Pam Sawyer - J. Hinton) - 2:46   rating: *** stars

Far better than the first tune, but again, 'The World Can't Stop Me (From Loving You)'  would have been far better with a stripped down arrangement.  At least 'the song had a pounding, upbeat, soul-ish flavor that allowed the group to spotlight their smooth harmonies..

3.) The Rovin' Kind   (B. Miller) - 3:04     rating: *** stars

Thankfully 'The Rovin' Kind' presented the quartet in a straightforward soul mode.  On any other album this one probably would have been an also-ran track, but here it was one of the better tunes. Nah, it couldn't compare with David Ruffin's cover (found on 1973's "David Ruffin"), but in spite of the sappy lyrics, I could even stomach the flute solo.

4.) Make It with You   (David Gates) - 3:48   rating: ** stars

Having grown up on the David Gates and Bread original, I'll limit my comments saying their version wasn't any worse than the original.  I'm sure this was featured at lost of mid-'70s proms (the Bread original was played at my proms).

5.) I Got a Need for You   (C. Peters - Johnny Bristol) - 3:16   rating; **** stars

Stripped of the MOR-ish arrangements the up-tempo 'I Got a Need for You' demonstrated how good these guys could be.   Hank Dixon on lead ?   This is the track I would have tapped as a single.

6.) Love Is Life   (M. White - D. Whitehead - W. Flemons) - 3:28   rating: ** stars

The dreadful spoken word intro put you on notice 'Love I s Life' wasn't going to be a standout performance.  Bland, over-orchestrated MOR-ish ballad ...

 

(side 2) 

1.) I'm Someone Who Cares  (S Bowden - J. Chambers - Johnny Bristol) - 2:47   rating; **** stars

The album's sleeper, 'I'm Someone Who Cares' allowed Gorman and Spencer to open up and show off their chops.  Coupled with a nifty melody, this one should have provided them with a big hit.

- 1972's 'I'm Someone Who Cares' b/w 'Once I Have You (I Will Never Let You Go)' (Soul catalog number S 35093F)

2.) Lie No. 2   (B. Miller) - 4:04   rating; *** stars

Another example of a track that would have been killer had the sappy arrangement been ditched in favor of a tougher sound.

3.) Come Rain or Shine   (C.P. Spencer - Frank Gorman - M. Ragin) - 2:51   rating; **** stars

The breezy, shag ready, radio-friendly  'Come Rain or Shine' was easily the album's standout performance.  As the album's lone original composition, given the caliber of the song, you had to wonder why The Originals weren't allow to record more of their own material.

4.) Keep Me   (Berry Gordy Jr.) - 2:45   rating; *** stars

I'm sure the fact Berry Gordy Jr. wrote it had nothing to do with their decision to cover the tune,  Okay, okay that was needless cynical since their cover wasn't half bad.  With a Soloman Burk-ish church organ and some nice Gospel-tinged harmonies, this was actually another album highlight.  I actually like it better than the Liz Lands original.

- 1971's 'Keep me' b/w 'A Man without Love' (Soul catalog number S-35085F)

5.) Bridge Over Troubled Water   (Paul Simon) - 5:44   rating: ** stars

Apparently every mid-'70s recording contract included a requirement that the track listing include at least one Bob Dylan, or Paul Simon cover.  With Gorman on lead vocals, The Originals responded with a sappy, overblown, and totally forgettable version of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'.  

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Game Called Love

Company: Motown

Catalog: S6-740S1
Year:
 1974

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 11544

Price: $15.00

 

Given it was recorded with at least seven producers and production teams, it probably shouldn't have come as a major surprise to learn 1974's "Game Called Love" wasn't the most consistent thing The Originals ever recorded.  Musically the group sounded like they were trying to find a sweet spot that would somehow retained their long-standing soul audience, while starting to attract a wider pop audience.  Unfortunately, the results probably didn't have a great deal of appeal for either camp.  Their stabs at pop found the group aiming for the lowest common denominator, including Mac Davis' hideous 'Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me' and the even worse Charlie Rich hit ' Behind Closed Doors'.   If that wasn't enough, the Stevie Wonder written and produced title track found the group working in a country vein.   To the group's credit, there were a couple of nice performances.  Best of the lot was the totally unexpected slice of hardcore funk 'Supernatural Voodoo Woman' (from the blaxploitation flick 'Sugar Hill'.  The other standout was their remake of Ivy Joe Hunter's soul ballad 'I Remember When (Dedicated to Beverly)'.   Unfortunately two out of ten wasn't a winning average

 

"Game Called Love" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me   (Mac Davis) - 3:09

The Mac David original was dreadful (yes, I know it was a massive hit), so against that baseline it would have been hard to turn in something worse.  That's not to say the remake was a great performance, but it was at least something you could stomach with some nice guitar and The Originals' impeccable harmonies.   rating: *** stars

2.) She's My Lady  (Joey Cooper - John Gallie) - 3:30

Maybe it was just my ears, but 'She's My Lady' seemed to have a country-soul edge to it.   Pass.  rating: ** stars

3.) Game Called Love   (Stevie Wonder) - 3:06

Normally Stevie Wonder covers are a pretty sure thing, but for some odd reason, in his role as producer Wonder steered the tune into a country-tinged arrangement (complete with pedal steel guitar).   Strange and not particularly enjoyable.  I'm not sure why, but the song was also released as a single:

- 1973's 'Game Called Love / Ooh You (Put a Crush on Me)' (Soul catalog number S-35113F)   rating: ** stars

4.) Behind Closed Doors   (Kenny O'Dell) - 4:16

And just when you thought things had to get better, along came their hideous remake of the Charlie Rich hit 'Behind Close Doors'.  Like the previous tune, this one retained an irritating country flavor (notably the irritating piano).  Probably one of the worst ballads they ever recorded.   rating: ** stars

5.) I Remember When (Dedicated to Beverly)   (Ivy Joe Hunter) - 3:54

The Ivy Joe Hunter original (released on VIP back in 1970), was an enjoyable soul-tinged ballad and to their credit The Originals were smart enough to stick pretty close to the original arrangement.  Showcasing C.P. Spencer on lead vocals, it was a nice slice of heartbreak and one of the album highlights.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2) 

1.) You're My Only World   (George Clinton) - 3:21

Hum, if it weren't so over-the-top dramatic, 'You're My Only World' might have actually been a decent tune.  As it was, this one was so intense that you had to work to not laugh.  The track was also tapped as the third single:

- 1974's 'You're My Only World / So Near (And Yet So Far)' (Soul catalog number S-35115F)  rating: *** stars

2.) So Near (And Yet So Far)   (Frankie Gorman) - 3:13

One of three tunes co-written by C.P. Spencer, 'So Near (And Yet So Far)' indicated it was about time for a slice of uplifting, can-do spirit.  Breezy, kind of mindless happiness.  rating: *** stars

3.) Ooh You (Put a Crush On Me)  (Graham P. Spencer - Chico Lervertt - Walter Gaines) - 2:52

Another original, 'Ooh You (Put a Crush On Me)' was one of the album's most conventional soul tunes and stood as another album highlight.  These guys could really churn out some dazzling harmonies.  rating: **** stars

4.) Be My Love   (Graham P. Spencer - Henry Dixon - Walter Gains) - 2:58

Opening up with a spoken word vamp that sounded like something you'd expect from a used car salesman, 'Be My Love' was a bland and formulaic old-school ballad.  rating: ** stars

5.) Supernatural Voodoo Woman (Pt. 1)   (Dino Fekaris - Nick Zesses) - 2:51

And just when you'd given up on the album, along came a totally unexpected slice of hardcore funk - 'Supernatural Voodoo Woman (Pt. 1)'.  The fact it was recorded for one of the coolest blaxploitation flicks ever filmed - "Sugar Hill" starring Marki Bey, made it an ever bigger surprise.  In fact, the only disappointment was that the album didn't included the extended arrangement that appeared on the single:

- 1974's 'Supernatural Voodoo Woman (Part 1) ' b/w 'Supernatural Voodoo Woman (Part 2)' (Soul catalog number S 35112F)  rating: **** stars

 

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ****

Title:  California Sunset

Company: Motown

Catalog: M6-826S1
Year:
 1975

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 12

Price: $20.00

 

 

Recorded after a personnel shake up that saw former Glass House vocalist Ty Hunter replace  C.P. Spencer, at least on paper 1975's "California Sunset" should have resulted in a masterpiece.  To my ears The Originals were always one of Motown's hidden treasures and teaming them with producer/songwriter Lamont Dozier should have given the group the creative push needed to reach the level of success other "A list" Motown acts had achieved.   Needless to say, it didn't happen - blame Motown management which seemed to have basically released the album without any real attempt to promote it.  That was a shame since the resulting album wasn't half bad -  a bit short of Motown classic status and to my ears it failed to reach the creative heights of some of their earlier releases (think 1969' "Baby, I'm For Real").  Still, song-for-song this offered up an enjoyable set that straddled old school soul ('Don't Turn the Lights Off' and 'Nothing Can Take the Place (of Your Love)') and more contemporary moves ('Why'd You Lie' and 'Financial Affair').  To his credit, songwriter Dozier had the common sense to largely avoid pushing the group into the faceless disco arrangements that most of their competition was diving headlong into.  Besides, how often do you get to hear a group with four lead singers as talented as Hank Dixon, Walter Gaines, Freddie Gorman and Ty Hunter?

 

"California Sunset" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Why'd You Lie   (Lamont Dozier) - 3:59

The spoken word opening on 'Why'd You Lie' was way too long and way too lame.  The fact the song then plunged into a disco-tinged arrangement was even more troubling.  Luckily these guys were consummate professionals and when the song actually got going, they tore it up.  Imagine a really good Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes song and you'll be in the right aural neighborhood.   rating: *** stars

2.) Don't Turn the Lights Off   (Lamont Dozier) - 3:54

'Don't Turn the Lights Off'' found the group stepping back into classic soul territory.  Dozier provided the group with a wonderful melody, McKinley Jackson provided them with a wonderful arrangement and Frank Gorman contributed a killer lead vocal ...   rating: **** stars

3.) I Could Never Happen   (Lamont Dozier) - 4:41

Overlooking the brief spoken word intro, 'I Could Never Happen' offered up a beautiful ballad that served to showcase their silky smooth vocal interaction ...  Eddie Brown's bongos provided the song's secret weapon.     rating: **** stars

4.) Good Lovin' Is Just a Dime Away   (Lamont Dozier) - 4:10

The title was certainly intriguing  ...   and the pseudo jazzy opening arrangement grabbed my attention though the 1920s flapper vocal treatments momentarily distracted me.  Luckily once 'Good Lovin' Is Just a Dime Away' got going it had one of those catchy hooks that Dozier effortlessly seems to churn out. The up tempo title track chorus simply made the song irresistible !!!   rating: **** stars

5.) California Sunset   (Lamont Dozier) - 5:09

To my ears 'California Sunset' has always sounded like one of those mid-1970s 5th Dimension tracks - too MOR to be soulful, yet too soulful to really be MOR.  Surprising the track wasn't used to shill for California wines ...  rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Sweet Rhapsody   (Lamont Dozier) - 4:44

Side two opened with the album's first real misstep - 'Sweet Rhapsody' was a bland and forgettable adult contemporary ballad that had all of the energy of a wet newspaper.   rating: ** stars

2.) Fifty Years   (Lamont Dozier) - 4:58

While it was nice to hear Walter Gaines' baritone, 'Fifty Years' was probably the album's sappiest and most forgettable effort.  Way too cute for public consumption ...      rating: * star

3.) Let Me Live In Your Life   (Lamont Dozier) - 4:41

A likeable up tempo number with another great McKinley Jackson arrangement and some tasty wah wah guitar (Dennis Coffey?),  'Let Me Live In Your Life' would have made a dandy single.   rating: **** stars

4.) Financial Affair   (Lamont Dozier) - 4:06

A wonderful showcase for new singer Ty Hunter's crisp tenor, 'Financial Affair' was my choice for standout performance.  The song had everything needed to be a mammoth commercial success (except for promotion support).   rating: **** stars  

5.) Nothing Can Take the Place (of Your Love)   (Lamont Dozier) - 3:27

It took a minute to get organized, but once it did 'Nothing Can Take the Place (of Your Love)' served to showcase why Motown used The Originals as backing singers on so many of their classic hits.  The fact of the matter is they were one of the few groups out there with four truly gifted lead singers and these guys blended their voices like nobody else on the Motown roster.  Another album highlight !!!   rating: **** stars

 

Even though the album was tapped for a couple of singles, sadly for The Originals, Motown seems to have lost interest in the group and the album.

 

  

 

- 1975's 'Good Lovin' Is Just a Dime Away' b/w 'Nothing Can Take the Place (of Your Love)' (Motown catalog number M1355F)

- 1975's 'Financial Affair' b/w 'Fifty Years' (Motown catalog number M1370F)

 

 

 



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