Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1972)
- Chuck Bedford -- vocals
- Sherlie Matthews -- vocals
- Chuck Bedford (solo efforts)
- The Belles (Sherlie Matthews)
- The Blackberries (Sherlie Matthews)
- The Circle of Love (Sherlie Matthews)
- Shanghai (Chuck Bedford)
Rating: 2 stars ***
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 2219
I'll admit I bought this one at a yard sale for the label - it was released by Motown's short-lived West Coast imprint. I'd never heard of the group, but the cover image showing a young, hip, inter-racial group seemed in keeping with the image Berry Gordy Jr. and Motown were looking for in the early-'70s.
Celebration was apparently the brainchild of Motown producer Deke Richards and then girlfriend Sherlie Matthews (then a member of The Blackberries). The group seemed to have been a studio entity built around the talents of Matthews, Chuck Bedford and four other members whose identities have been lost-to-history members. Co-produced by Richards and Matthews, 1972' "Celebration" offered up a mixture of pop hits, album covers, and a handful of originals (penned by Matthews and/or Richards). The big problem with this one was the lack of focus. Richards and Matthews apparently couldn't figure out what they wanted this outfit to be. The end result was an album that sounded like it had been written and produced by a committee interested in appealing to as broad an audience as possible. 'Doobedood' Ndoobe Doobedood' Ndoobe' was a decent slice of sophisticated pop-soul, but most of the album seemed focused on an audience with middle class tastes - 'The Circle Again ', 'Poor Ol' Soul' and a cover of Carole King's 'You've Got a Friend' were all more Broadway show tune that pop, or soul.
"Celebration" track listing:
1.) Which Train You Riding' (Sherlie Matthews - Deke Richards) - 3:27 rating: *** stars
Musically 'Which Train You Ridin'' sounded like a mash-up of The Fifth Dimension, Norman Whitfield-styled psychedelia, and something out of a Broadway show. I'm guessing the dominate voices were Matthews and Bedford. It wasn't a bad tune, just kind of strained and stiff without much of a melody.
2.) Lean On Me (Bill Withers) - 3:07 rating: *** stars
With Matthews of lead vocals, their cover of 'Lean On Me' sounded like a slightly more soulful version of The Fifth Dimension. Nice, but certainly wasn't going to make you forget the Bill Withers' original.
3.) Doobedood' Ndoobe Doobedood' Ndoobe -- Doobedood' Ndoo (Deke Richards) - 4:20 rating: **** stars
Thankfully for the most part the song was way better than the stupid title ... In fact if you dropped the stupid chorus, this would have sounded like something off one of those Supremes and the Temptation collaborations. Matthews had a great voice and even though he was only briefly spotlighted, Bedford sounded pretty good on this one. If anyone cares, their version shredded the Diana Ross cover.
4.) The Circle Again (Sherlie Matthews - Dan Spears) - 3:34 rating: ** stars
Hum, guess it was time for a show tune ...
5.) Are You Ready (J. Hill - Charlie Allen) - 2:45 rating: *** stars
As a member of The Blackberries, Matthews had sung on the original Pacific, Gas and Electric version of this tune. The arrangement wasn't bad, sounding a bit like something The Les Humphries Singer might have recorded - a hip tune for square people.
I'm not too proud to admit I can enjoy a good Bacharach-David performance. This wasn't one of them. Giving most of the members a brief moment in the spotlight, their version of 'A House Is Not a Home' managed to make The Fifth Dimension sound like a bunch of head bankers ... hideous. MoWest apparently planned to release this one as a single, but killed the project.
2.) Poor Ol' Soul (Sherlie Matthews) - 3:05 rating: * star
Is there such a thing as Broadway soul? Put this one in the same category as their Bacharach-David cover, made worse by the uplifting lyric. Dreadful MOR crapola that might as well have been an advertising jingle for toothpaste.
3.) Let Love Carry You Along (Toni Brown) - 2:31 rating: * star
Written by Toni Brown while a member of Joy of Cooking, 'Let Love Carry You' was at least in interesting cover. Complete with pedal steel and fiddles, the faux country style didn't do anything for my ears.
4.) Since I Met You There's No Magic (Sherlie Matthews - Bruce Fisher) - 3:37 rating: **** stars
More pop, than soul, but 'Since I Met You There's No Magic' had a nice melody and what was Matthews' best performance on the set. Definitely an improvement on the last couple of tunes. Listening to the song on headphones, I've seldom heard such a prominent tambourine ... Extra star for the tambourine. LOL
5.) Medley - 4:33
i.) You've Got a Friend (Carole King) rating: ** stars
Hard to imagine but they managed to turn King's classic tune into another Broadway show tune.
ii.) You're All I Need To Get By (Nick Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - rating: *** stars
More Les Humphreys Singers styled soul for folks living in the suburbs.
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