Edwin Starr

Band members                             Related acts

- Edwin Starr (aka Charles Hatcher) (RIP 2003) -- vocals



- The Metrotones (Edwin Starr)

Edwin Starr and Blinky





Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Soul Master

Company: Gordy

Catalog: GPLS 931

Year: 1968

Country/State: Nashville, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2836

Price: $35.00


The fact Edwin Starr's first album is so overlooked stands as a sad commentary on popular tastes.  Admittedly "Soul Master" offered up a compilation of earlier Ric-Tic era 45s and newer Motown tunes, but it still made for one hell'uva compilation !!!   


Might as well make this simple.  There were three Ric-Tic sides on the album:


- Agent Double O Soul  

- (S.O.S.) Stop Her On Sight 

- Headline News 


The other nine tracks reflected Motown-era performances.


While all twelve tracks reflected Starr's sterling voice, one of the album's most interesting aspects was being able to contrast the  Ric Tic sides versus the Motown material.  Maybe I'm just fooling myself but those earlier sides seem to have a rawer, slightly low-tech sound that only serves to emphasize what a great voice Starr had.  The Motown tracks weren't exactly MOR-ish (okay, 'Oh How Happy' was), but came off as far more refined and polished.   Regardless, this is a great place to start exploring Starr's impressive talents.  Only complaint with respect to this one - shame the album didn't include more of his Ric-Tic releases.  


"Soul Master" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Agent Double O Soul   (Charles Hatcher - Bill Sharpley) - 2:37  rating: **** stars

Clearly inspired by the mid-'60s James Bond craze, 'Agent Double O Soul' was originally released as an MOR-ish instrumental by the John Schroeder Orchestra. The original title was 'Agent 00 Soul''.   Starr's debut for Ed Wingate's Ric Tic label  didn't stray too far from the original arrangement, though the addition of his gritty vocals simply crushed the original version of the song. 

- 1965's 'Agent Double O Soul' b/w 'Agent Double O Soul' instrumental (Ric Tic catalog number RD-103)  

YouTube has a fascinating black and white clip of Starr lip synching the tune for a performance on the Hollywood A Go Go television show.  Starr cut some nice James Brown-styled moves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHJXfM91B0g  

2.) I Am the Man for You Baby  (James Dean - William Weatherspoon - Bowden) - 2:40   rating: *** stars

'I Am the Man for You Baby' was Starr's second single for Gordy ...  A decent enough ballad, but Starr seemed a little uncomfortable with the song's higher registers.  

- 1967's ' I Am the Man for You Baby' b/w 'My Weakness Is You'  (Gordy catalog number G-7101)

3.) (S.O.S.) Stop Her On Sight   (Charles Hatcher - Albert Hamilton - Richard Morris) - 2:17

If you ever want to create a list f classic Detroit soul songs, I'd suggest '(S.O.S.) Stop Her On Sight ' needs to be on that list.  As good as Starr's performance was, kudos to the un-credited Funk Brothers for their backing.  Earl Van Dyke's opening "S.O.S" keyboard pattern is one of soul's all time classic moves.  Instantly recognizable !!!    One of his Starr's hits on Ric-Tic and should be in every soul fan's collection.  Obviously recorded years after the original, YouTube has a performance of the tune on the Jonathan Ross television show:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHmf4bkjjoY 

- 1966's '(S.O.S) Stoper Her On Sight' b/w 'I Have Faith In You' (Ric Tic catalog number RT-109)

4.) Oh How Happy   (Charles Hatcher) - 2 :33  rating; *** stars

IT was certainly better than the hit version recorded by The Shades of Blue, but to my ears 'Oh How Happy' didn't have a lot going for it.  I found the song clunky, burdened by kind of MOR-ish melody, and another track where Starr didn't sound all that comfortable.  The backing singers all but drown him out in a couple of places.  In 1969 Starr rerecorded the song for his duets album with Blinky "Just We Two".

5.) Way Over There   (Smokey Robinson) - 2:42   rating: **** stars

You don't usually associated Smokey Robinson with a driving soul track like 'Way Over There" ...  and as much as I love the Miracles' version, it simply couldn't compete with Starr's gut wrenching performance.

6.) My Weakness Is You  (Norman Whitfield - McMullen - Grant) - 2:32   rating: **** stars

Class Starr with one of those patented Motown melodies that made it impossible to sit still.  'My Weakness Is You' also benefited from having the best use of tribal drums on any Motown release  (William Benjamin  ???).   The 45 version differed slightly from the album arrangement.


(side 2)

1.) Headline News  (Charles Hatcher - Albert Hamilton - Richard Morris) - 2:30   rating: **** stars

As mentioned above, 'Headline News' was another tune out of the Ric-Tic catalog. A growling, driven soul tune, it's interesting to compare the song's raw arrangement versus Gordy's for more polished arrangements.

- 1966's 'Headline News' b/w 'Harlem' (Ric-Tic catalog number RT-114)

2) Soul Master    (Richard Morris)  - 3:05   rating: **** stars

The title track was one of his overlooked masterpieces - the self-praising lyrics were a hoot and it was interesting to hear Starr cruising through a song in a lower gear.  What a voice !!!

3.) I Want My Baby Back  (Norman Whitfield - Grant - Eddie Kendircks0 - 2:30    rating: *** stars

Starr's Gordy debut was worth the purchase price just for the introductory bass line.  Musically it sounded like Starr had ripped the song out of The Temptations catalog.  In fact the backing voices sounded like The Temptations. So ... not his most original work, but still a fun spin.

- 1967's 'I Want My Baby Back' b/w 'Gonna Keep On Tryin' Until I Win Your Love Back' (Gordy catalog number G 7066)

4.) Love Is My Destination    (Henry Cosby - Edwin Starr) - 2:50   rating: **** stars 

Motown had a knack for dark, heart wrenching melodies and coupled with Starr's special voice, it didn't get much better than 'Love Is My Destination'.   Hard to believe this one was wasted as a "B" side.

5.) I Am Your Man    (Nickolas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 2:59

Shrill, fragile, shrieky ... Poor choice for Starr who really sounded like he was struggling to get through the tune.   I think you could hear Ashford and Simpson on backing vocals.

6.) Time Is Passin' By  (James Dean - William Weatherspoon) - 2:50  rating: **** stars 

I think The Monitors may have recorded it earlier.   Starr's version didn't stray too far from their version, but the combination of the instantly catchy melody; cute lyrics; killer bass line, and Starr's simmering voice made this one of the album highlights.  Another track should have been a massive single for Starr.




Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  25 Miles

Company: Gordy

Catalog: GS940

Year: 1969

Country/State: Nashville, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5751

Price: $35.00


If you've ever heard 1969's "25 Miles" you have to wonder why Motown didn't make more of an effort on Edwin Starr's behalf.  The man had looks, plenty of charisma, was a good writer, and a fantastic voice - easily as good as any of his Motown contemporaries.   Interestingly, Starr's first real LP for Motown (the previous label debut "Soul Master" was little more than a compilation of earlier singles), probably went a long way to explaining why he didn't achieve mega success under Motown's umbrella.  Compared to most of the Motown roster, exemplified by tracks like '' and '' Starr had a far tougher sound.  Mind you, this was still highly commercial soul, with virtually every one of the twelve tracks exhibiting a hook that would have sounded great on top-40 radio.  Still, the album didn't sound like anything coming off the late-1960s Motown product line.  That's probably explained by the fact Starr wasn't originally signed to Motown - Berry Gordy Jr. acquired Starr's contract when he bought up the small Detroit Ric-Tic label.


"25 Miles" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Twenty-Five Miles   (Edwin Starr - Johnny Bristol - Harvey Fuqua) - 2:59   rating: **** stars

Kicked along by Starr's growling, lust driven vocal the title track was one of the best singles Motown ever released.  Always loved the countdown ... This is the song David Ruffin was always looking for.  Shame it isn't as well known as 'War'.

2.) I'm Still a Struggling Man   (D. McNeil - Johnny Bristol) - 2:25   rating: **** stars

Beating Marvin Gaye to the social commentary party, 'I'm Still a Struggling Man' started out sounding like a slick and sophisticated ballad until it hit the killer chorus.  Yeah, Starr sounded a little uncomfortable in the key, but he made up for it with that hook.  

3.) Backyard Lovin' Man   (D. Richards - B. Dean) - 2:28   rating: **** stars

Motown magic ...  that's really the only way to describe 'Backyard Lovin' Man'.  How is it this one wasn't a major hit?  Great tune, pounding rhythm section, and one of Starr's instantly memorable performances.  Great, great, great !   

4.) He Who Picks a Rose   (Norman Whitfield - E. Smiley - Eddie Holland) - 2:28   rating: *** stars

Maybe because he sounded like he sounded like he was straining, 'He Who Picks a Rose' lacked the same appeal to my ears as much of the album.  Motown slapped this one on the 'B' side of 'War'.

5.) Soul City (Open Your Arms To Me)   - 2:39   rating: *** stars

'Soul City (Open Your Arms To Me)' certainly had commercial potential, though it also sounded kind of contrived.  Not bad, but once again Starr sounded a little uncomfortable being forced into such a commercial box.   

6.) You Beat Me To the Punch   (R. White - Smokey Robinson) - 2:31   rating: *** stars

'Beat Me To the Punch' was the track that came closest to framing Starr in that instantly recognizable Motown sound.  His up tempo cover was certainly pleasant, but added little to the Mary Well's original.  


(side 2)
1.) Gonna Keep On Tryin' Till I Win Your Love   (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 2:48    rating: **** stars

Side two started with what was the best ballad on the album.  It probably sounds kind of weird, but to my ears Starr's performance on 'Gonna Keep On Tryin' Till I Win Your Love' has always reminded me of Sam Cooke.     

2.) Pretty Little Angel   (Clarence Paul - Stevie Wonder - M. Valvano) - 2:15   rating: *** stars

Starr's gruff and growling voice was wasted on a fluffy pop number like 'Pretty Little Angel'.  Shame since the song was actually kind of nice - great drum break.   

3.) If My Heard Could Tell The Story   (J. Dean - William Weatherspoon) - 2:28   rating: *** stars

The first couple of times I heard it 'If My Heard Could Tell The Story' didn't really catchy my attention.  The song sounded a little to MOR for my ears; another attempt by Motown to kiss up to the suburban audience.  Still not my favorite track, but it's grown on me over the years.   Probably would have sounded better if Smokey and the Miracles had done it.  

4.) Who Cares If You're Happy Or Not (I Do)   (J. Dean - William Weatherspoon - J. Holland) - 2:46    rating: **** stars

Returning to a pounding soul rhythm 'Who Cares If You're Happy Or Not (I Do)' found Starr back in prime form.  Always liked the twangy guitar solo.   

5.) 24 Hours To Find My Baby   (Edwin Starr) - 2:40    rating: **** stars

Another album highlight, the Starr-penned '24 Hours To Find My Baby' probably would have been a good choice for a follow on single, though Motown may have been considered the song title and structure was a little too close to the title track.   

6.) Mighty Good Lovin'   (Williams Stevenson) - 2:44   rating: *** stars

The closer 'Mighty Good Lovin'' found Starr embracing a more typical Motown sound.  Unfortunately the results again sounded strained and not particularly impressive.  


- Motown tapped the album for a pair of singles:


- 1969's '25 Miles' b/w 'Love Is My Destination' (Gordy catalog number G-7083)

- 1969's 'I'm Still a Struggling Man' b/w 'Pretty Little Angel'  (Gordy catalog number G-7087)



             Dutch picture sleeve

     Tamala Motown catalog 25.937


Just remember, Motown's failures shouldn't stop you from discovering the man on your own.  A true overlooked Motown classic that you can still pick up for a reasonable price.





Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  War & Peace

Company: Gordy

Catalog: GS948

Year: 1970

Country/State: Nashville, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5745

Price: $35.00


A couple of years ago I was dumbfounded to discover that my high school kid knew the song 'War'.  The irony was that he knew the Bruce Springsteen version, but had never heard the Edwin Starr version (let alone The Temptations' original).  Talk about the collapse of American culture.  How can that be,  Obviously I've failed my parental duties on the cultural sensitivity front.  The younger son will know and appreciate both The Temptations and Edwin Starr versions and yes it's okay if he likes the Springsteen version better.


All hyperbole aside, Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote what may be the classic anti-war song with 'War'.  The Temptations originally recorded the track as part of 1968's "Psychedelic Shack".  Their version showcased Dennis Edwards and Paul Williams (Melvin Franklin handling the bass).  Slower and less strident than Starr's take, The Temptations version was quite good and radio stations demanded it be released as a single.   Motown management was apparently wary of releasing it as a Temptations single for fear of alienating middle-of-the-road audiences.  At the same time the company realized the song had immense commercial potential, eventually agreeing to let Starr recorded it.   The combination of a great lyric, killer melody, irresistible hook and Starr's take-no-prisoners delivery made for a song that you just couldn't get out of your head once you hear it.  Released as a single b/w 'He Who Picks a Rose' (Gordy catalog number G-7101 ) the song topped the pop charts for almost a month and hit # 4 on the R&B charts, earning Starr a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal.  



And that's part of the problem with the parent album, 1970's "War & Peace".  The leadoff single was so impressive, that no matter how good, everything else on the set was bound to pale in comparison.  It shows in the reviews you'll find in most places which routine label the rest of the album as little more than throwaway filler.  I'm here to argue that the album's far better than those reviews give it credit for.  Starr was in prime form throughout the collection making you wonder who in their right mind would label him a second stringer.


"War & Peace" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) War   (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 3:12

Enough said about 'War' - my vote for the best anti-war song ever written.  By the way, The Undisputed Truth provided backing vocals and I'm guessing that the screaming lead guitar was Dennis Coffey.  While it was recorded decades after the original, YouTube has an energetic performance of the tune taken from Jools Holland's English television program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv5BYEOQYLo   rating: **** stars

2.) Running Back and Forth   (Edwin Starr - R. Wylie) - 2:50

Sure it wasn't the most original song on the album, but 'Running Back and Forth' had considerable commercial potential and on another album would have been a candidate for release as a single.   rating: *** stars

3.) Adios Senorita   (Sylvia Moy - Henry Cosby) - 2:31

Motown seldom tapped into Latin genres, but 'Adios Senorita' was a welcomed exception.  Starr seldom sounded as anxious or excited.  Fantastic song and should've been a massive hit.  rating: **** stars

4.) All Around the World   (T. Turner) - 2:56

'All Around the World' was a little different from your standard Motown effort in that kicked along by a nifty little guitar figure it featured a surprising taunt rock feel.  It also had a short synthesizer segment that always brings a smile to my face.  How can you not like a song that includes the line 'grits and groceries ain't poetry'?  My choice for the second best song on the album.  A great choice for a jukebox !!!    rating: **** stars

5.) I Can't Escape Your Memory   (Ivy Joe Hunter - J. Goga) - 2:58

One of the few disappointments on the album, 'I Can't Escape Your Memory' was a bland ballad that sounded like a Temptations outtake.  Starr even employed the same pleading vocal style The Temps were using at the time.  rating: ** stars

6.) Last I Found a Love   (Marvin Gaye - Anna Gaye - E. Stover) - 2:52
'Last I Found a Love' found Starr returning to a more traditional Motown sound.  It took a moment for the song to kick into gear, but when the chorus and the horns hit this one became a keeper.  It was also interesting to hear Starr singing in a low gear for a change.  The man was just as good on cruise control as when he was really pushing it.   rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) I Just Wanted To Cry   (Edwin Starr - Johnny Bristol) - 2:59

With kind of an old school feel, 'I Just Wanted To Cry' sounded like it was recorded earlier in Starr's career.  It may have been old school, but it was a nice driving mid tempo number with a great give-and-take between Starr and the backing chorus..  rating: **** stars

2.) Raindrops Keep Dropping On My Head   (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 3:15

Yech.  Why would any Motown artist want to cover a MOR piece of dreck like 'Raindrops Keep Dropping On My Head'?  rating: ** stars

3.) Time   (Edwin Starr - R. Wylie) - 2:54

Clearly reflecting producer Whitfield's influence, 'Time' had that instantly recognizable psychedelic-soul feel.  It actually sounded like something The Temptations might have recorded for one of their Whitefield collaborations and was released as a single.  YouTube has a nice clip of Starr performing the tune at a2003 concert in Stuttgart, Germany.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-IEsZOyYOg     rating: **** stars

4.) California Soul   (Nicolas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:50

'California Soul' was one of the better songs that Ashford and Simpson wrote, but here Starr reduced it to kind of a cocktail jazzy vibe.  It was probably pretty cool at the time (like avocado kitchen appliances and shag carpet), but today it comes off as fairly lame.  rating: *** stars

5.) I Can't Replace My Old Love   (Harvey Fuqua - A. Scott - V. Williams) - 4:10

Starr normally stayed away from higher register performances.  He clearly wasn't as comfortable in those upper ranges, but still managed to turn in a credible performance on the up tempo 'I Can't Replace My Old Love'.  rating: *** stars

6.) She Should Have Been Home   (Johnny Bristol - D. McNeil) - 2:59

The first couple of times I heard the closing ballad 'She Should Have Been Home' didn't make any impression on me.  The song certainly wasn't helped by needless and overly slick orchestration, but under that syrupy sheen there was a cool song with a nice vocal from Starr.  rating: *** stars


Bouncing between the Whitfield influenced numbers and the old school tracks this wasn't Starr's most consistent release, but it had more than enough treasures to warrant tracking down a copy.


There was actually a pre-'War' single from the album:


- 'Time' b/w 'Running Back and Forth' (Gordy catalog number G-7097)





Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Involved

Company: Gordy

Catalog: GS956

Year: 1971

Country/State: Nashville, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1335

Price: $35.00


With Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong handling production and credited with most of the material, 1971's "Involved" marked a major change in Edwin Starr's sound.   With the exception of a reprise of the earlier hit 'War', the thematic follow-on 'Stop the War Now', and a cover of Smokey Robinson's 'Way Over There', the album found Starr abandoning his classic soul moves in favor of psych-soul that Whitfield and Strong had ridden to international success with the likes of The Temptations and The Undisputed Truth. That meant lots of screaming fuzz guitar (Dennis Coffey ?), plenty of echo, and an array of studio effects. While many artists would have been overwhelmed by the mix, Starr had the chops to acquit himself well in these surroundings, though 'll readily admit to missing his earlier sound.  The fact that several of these tunes had already been big hits for other Motown acts ('Ball of Confusion (That's the Way the World Is Today)', 'Cloud Nine', and 'Funky Music Sho Nuff Turn Me On'), gave the album kind of a been-there-done-that feel.   Clocking in at over twelve minutes, 'Ball of Confusion' started out promisingly, but was simply too long by half.   All those gripes aside, Starr had a killer voice and there were more than a couple of treasures here.  Among the highlights, Starr's cover of George Harrison's 'My Sweet Lord' was quite sweet, while try sitting still during 'Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On'.  


"Involved" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) War   (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 3:12

Having been on Starr's previous album, I'm not sure why 'War' reappeared on this album.   Enough said about 'War' - my vote for the best anti-war song ever written.  By the way, The Undisputed Truth provided backing vocals and I'm guessing that the screaming lead guitar was Dennis Coffey.  While it was recorded decades after the original, YouTube has an energetic performance of the tune taken from Jools Holland's English television program:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv5BYEOQYLo    rating: ***** stars

2.) Ball of Confusion (That's the Way the World Is Today)    (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 12:45

Interesting choice to included an extended cover of 'Ball of Confusion (That's the Way the World Is Today)'.   After a minute of psychedelic noise, the famous bass line kicked in.  You then have to wait another minute and a half for Starr to show up.  Mind you he turned in an impressive performance that was even more psychedelic than The Temptations version (lots of reverb, echo, and other studio effects), but ultimately the performance fell short of  the earlier classic version, though the mid-song nod to 'War' was cute.   Moreover, as much as I love this Motown classic, I'm not sure there was any defense for stretching the song to almost 13 minutes.     rating: *** stars

3.) Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On   (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 3:59

'Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On' was possibly the funkiest thing Starr ever laid down (which is saying a lot).   I'd also suggest that Starr's version simply shuts down The Temptations' version - and he did it with one voice, rather than five.   rating: **** stars

(side 2)
1.) Stop the War Now
   (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 3:24

'War' was such a big hit it was only a matter of time before Whitefield and Strong returned to the topic.  Lyrically it was even more in-your-face than the earlier tune, and while Starr's performance was heartfelt and sincere, the song lacked the same impact as 'War'.   Motown tapped it as a single.   rating: **** stars

2.) Cloud Nine   (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 3:10

I guess I was expecting to hear a rote cover of The Temptations arrangement, and while Starr's version didn't stray too far from the original (save the brief end-of-song nod to Sly and the Family Stone's 'Higher') , the heavy percussion and jazzy vocals were a nice change.   Again, you probably won't forget The Temptations version, but this one was a surprisingly enjoyable.   rating: *** stars

3.) Stand   (Sly Stewart) - 3:20

Starr's vocal was energetic, but this was also probably the album's biggest disappointment, simply because it didn't add anything to the original.  rating: ** stars

4.) Way Over There   (Smokey Robinson) - 2:42

With an old-school Motown sound, to my ears 'Way Over There' always sounded a bit out of place on this album.   The song had actually appeared on Starr's first Motown album and as a 'B' side on the 1969 single 'If My Heart Could Tell the Story' which probably explains why it sounded so different.   It was also one of the album highlights.   Great tune that would have made a dandy 'A' side.   rating: **** stars

5.) My Sweet Lord   (George Harrison) - 3:50

I've always loved Starr's cover.  The arrangement starts with a piano and feedback drenched guitar snippet of The Edwin Hawkins Singers' 'Oh Happy Days', before morphing into Harrison's classic tune.   I guess Starr understood where Harrison had gotten his inspiration for the song which makes it even more ironic that Harrison lost a plagerism song to The Chiffons estate who claimed he stole the melody from 'He's So Fine'.   One of the album highlights.  rating: **** stars


As mentioned, in addition to the earlier single 'War', the album spun off two singles:




- 1970's 'Stop the War Now' b/w 'Gonna Keep On Tryin' Till I Win Your Love' (Gordy catalog number G 7104

- 1970's 'Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On' b/w 'Cloud Nine' (Gordy catalog number G 7107)


Not a particularly big seller, the album hit # 178 on the US pop charts and # 45 on the R&B charts.





Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Free To Be Myself

Company: Granite

Catalog: GS-1005

Year: 1975

Country/State: Nashville, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small cut out hole top left corner, small tear on cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5053

Price: $25.00


By 1974 Edwin Starr's long-standing relationship with Motown had begun to fray.  Things rapidly deteriorated following the release of  Starr's soundtrack album for the film "Hell Up In Harlem".  Unhappy with the company's lackadaisical support for the album, Starr and his longstanding label parted ways.


Signed by the small Hollywood-based Granite Records label, Starr promptly reappeared with 1975's self-produced "Free To Be Myself".  Showcasing ten Starr-penned tracks, the album underscored the fact Starr remained an extremely talented writer and performer.  With support from the band The Dynamic Concept and  backing vocals from the trio Splenduer, the album proved surprisingly impressive if not exactly cutting edge in terms of popular tastes.  While 'Toys' and 'Party' (which was actually pretty funny) gave brief nods to popular disco trends, for the most part Starr was smart enough to focus on his strengths.  Material like the 'Drunk Annie', the horn-propelled 'Rainbow' (which would have made a nice single) and the funky 'Pain' showcased classic old-school moves that were every bit as good as his Motown catalog.  Highlights included the hysterical swam-funk number 'Abyssinia Jones' (love Starr's response to the backing singer chanting "15 and 18 is 33"), the bluesy ballad 'Best of My Past' and the Latin-flavored 'Beginning'.  Granite's distribution capabilities were apparently pretty limited and as a result the album is well known. Shame since it's quite good. 


Elsewhere Granite tapped the album for three singles:



- 'Pain' b/w 'I'll Never Forget' (Granite catalog number G522) 

- 'Stay with Me' b/w 'Party' (Granite catalog number G528) 

- 'Abyssinia Jones' b/w 'Beginning' (Granite catalog number G532) 


"Free To Be Myself" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Stay with Me   (Edwin Starr) - 2:45

2.) Abyssinia Jones   (Edwin Starr) - 5:58

3.) Toys   (Edwin Starr) - 2:37

4.) Drunk Annie   (Edwin Starr) - 3:24

5.) Rainbow   (Edwin Starr) - 2:28

(side 2)
1.) Another Song for You    (Edwin Starr - Steve Stone)- 3:27

2.) Best of My Past   (Edwin Starr) - 6:54

3.) Beginning   (Edwin Starr) - 4:34

4.) Pain   (Edwin Starr) - 2:35

5.) Party   (Edwin Starr) - 2:38


Sadly Starr suffered a fatal heart attack in April 2003.