Kim Weston

Band members                             Related acts

- Kim Weston (aka Agatha  Natalie Weston) -- vocals




Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston





Genre: soul

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  For the First Time

Company: MGM

Catalog: SE 4477

Country/State: Detroit, Michigan

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small cut out hole lower left corner; stereo pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5418

Price: $15.00


Not a big surprise, but Kim Weston's musical roots trace back to the church.  By the time she was three, she was a member of her local Detroit church's choir.  As a teenager she tour with the Gospel group The Wright Specials and was subsequently one of the first acts signed by Berry Gordy Jr. to Motown.



Musically Weston's style was quite a bit different than many of her label mates.  Technically she may have had the best voice, but the combination of power and sexiness meant she wasn't well suited for a group dynamic.  Assigned to Motown's Tamla subsidiary, Weston made her recording debut with 1963's 'Love Me All the Way' b/w 'It Should have Been Me' (Tamla catalog number 54076).  That was followed by a string of six more singles (two with Marvin Gaye)


- 1963's 'Just Loving You' b/w 'Another Train Coming' (Tamla catalog (54085)

- 1964's 'Looking For The Right Guy' b/w "Feel Alright Tonight (Tamla catalog (54100)

- 1964's 'What Good Am I Without You' b/w 'I Want You 'Round' (Tamla catalog number T-54104)

- 1964's 'A Little More Love' b/w 'Go Ahead and Laugh' (Tamla catalog number (T-54106)


Here's a YouTube performance of A Little More Love':


- 1965's 'I'm Still Loving You' b/w 'Go Ahead and Laugh' (Tamla catalog number T-54110)

- 1965's 'It Takes Two' b/w 'It's Got To Be a Miracle (This They called Love) (Tamla catalog T-54141F)



Switched over to Gordy label, she released three more singles:

- 1965's 'A Thrill a Moment ' b/w 'I'll Never See My Love Again (Gordy catalog number G-7041)

- 1966's 'Helpless' b/w 'A Love Like Yours (Don't Come Knocking Every Day' (Gordy catalog number G-7050)

- 1965's 'Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) ' b/w 'Don't Compare Me with Her' (Gordy catalog number G-7064)


Here's a YouTube performance of the last single:



1966 saw Weston attract considerable attention as a result of her collaboration with Marvin Gaye and the album "Take Two".  The problem was that by the time the album and the single 'It Takes Two' hit the charts Weston had left Motown for MGM.













Produced by husband Mickey Stevenson Jr. (who'd been a vice president and producer and Motown and reportedly left the company over financial disagreements with Berry Gordy Jr.), Weston made her label debut with 1967's "For the First Time".  First the bad news.  Anyone expecting to hear a set of Motown-styled soul was in for a major disappointment.  In a clear attempt to attract a more upscale audience, Weston and Stevenson elected to all but abandon the Motown sound in favor of a more adult oriented jazz-oriented sound.  With the exception of the first segment of the lead off track 'Where Am I Going', virtually nothing here even came close to her earlier pop/soul efforts.  Instead tracks like 'Free Again' (complete with phonetically sung French lyrics), 'Everything in the World I Love' and 'When the Sun Comes Out' showcased Weston's big voice surrounded by elaborate arrangements (the album credited five different arrangers) on songs that had more in common with Shirley Bassey, or Lena Horne than the Motown world.  Weston's voice remained an amazing instrument, but it was largely wasted in this environment.  Not a collection I found particularly enjoyable.


"For the First Time" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Where Am I Going   (Coleman - Fields) - 2:55
2.) Free Again  (Levy) - 3:52
3.) Everything in the World I Love   (Martin - Leonard) - 3:09
4.) When the Sun Comes Out   (Shuman - Westlake) - 2:49
5.) Walking Happy   (Van Heusen - Cahn) - 2:50


(side 2)
1.) The Beat Goes On   (Sonny Bono) - 3:13
2.) In the Dark   (Green) - 3:25
3.) If You Go Away   (Rod McKuen - Jacques Brel) - 3:43
4.) Come Rain Or Come Shine   (Arlen - Mercer) - 2:20
5.) Come Back to Me   (Lerner - Lane) - 3:01
6.) That's Life   (Gordon - Thompson) - 3:22




Genre: pop

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Big Brass Four Poster

Company: People

Catalog: PLP5001

Country/State: Detroit, Michigan

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5846

Price: $25.00


All hyperbole aside, Kim Weston was one of Motown's hidden treasures.  She had one of the stronger voices on the Motown roster, but with the exception of her collaborations with Marvin Gaye, was seldom allowed off the support bench.


Having recorded a pair of post-Motown LPs for MGM, 1970 found Kim Weston signed to James Brown's People imprint.  Produced by West Paulin (husband Williams Stevenson serving as executive producer), "Big Brass Four Poster" offered up an occasionally intriguing mixture of originals and popular covers.  As was the case with lots of early-1970s soul artists, the big problem here was one of musical direction.  Nobody could blame an artist for wanting to enjoy commercial success.  Unfortunately in many cases that meant abandoning one's musical roots in pursuit of a more accessible sound.  That was clearly the dilemma Weston was trying to figure out.  Unfortunately, her decision was to turn towards an adult contemporary sound that may have had sales potential, but musically was bland and largely forgettable.


- Opening up with a Weston original, 'Big Brass Four Poster' was a nice mid-tempo blues-influenced track that served as a wonderful showcase for her classy and brassy voice.    rating: *** stars  

- Normally a song starting out with a flute solo makes me cringe which meant 'Something I Can Feel' got off to a rocky start for me.  Kind of an adult contemporary slice of cocktail jazz, Weston's vocal was quite nice giving her an opportunity to show she could really belt it out, but this one literally sounded like something off of a Barbara Streisand LP.    rating: * star

- 'Love Don't Let Me Down' was a strange song.  Musically it sounded like writers Poncia and Andreolia were trying to pen a Motown-styled ballad, but they kept getting lost in the melody so the end result sounded like two songs that had been randomly stitched together.  Weston did her best to sing the song in a coherent style, but just couldn't save it.    rating: ** stars

- Co-written with husband Stevenson, 'He's My Love' was a pretty ballad with some nifty upfront percussion touches.  Again, a little to adult contemporary for rock and soul fans, but one of the better performances on the album.    rating: *** stars  

- 'Here Comes Those Heartaches Again' saw Weston abandon any attempt to sing pop, finally letting her soul and Gospel roots out.  The results were quite good - shame the song didn't have more bounce and less screechy female backing singers.    rating: *** stars  

- The jazzy self-penned  'What's Gonna Happen To Me' offered up a jazzy vibe.  Initially it didn't do a great deal for me, but with each play I've grown to like it more.  Her taunt voice was well suited for the genre.    rating: *** stars

- You have to admire someone willing to do a Beatles covers.  You're liable to find yourself stuck between a creative rock and a hard place.  Stick too close to the original and the results are overwhelmed by the original.  Get too creative and you lose the comparison to the original.  For her cover of 'Something' Weston chose a hybrid approach.  She didn't really mess with the song's melody, but infused the choruses with a bluesy soul vibe.  The end result wasn't particularly good, or bad.  The song's most interesting facet was actually the whacked out lead guitar ... No idea who was responsible, but they went pretty insane on the track.   rating: *** stars

- 'My Man' was a bland and forgettable slice of MOR cocktail jazz.    rating: * star

- Clearly intended to appeal to a white, middle class audience, the MOR 'Windmills Of Your Mind' was a waste of her considerable talent.    rating: * star

- 'Eleanor Rigby' served as the album's second Beatles cover.  Giving it a big band treatment was okay.  Weston had the chops to carry it off, but the song was simply to quirky to be a good choice for her.  Imagine a Sergio Mendes Beatles cover and you'd know what to expect.   rating: ** stars

- Not to sound like a broken record, but her rote Simon and Garfunkel cover was instantly forgettable. Why would you want to hear this one rather than the original?  The brief spoken word segment was actually pretty funny.   rating: ** stars


Wish I could say something more positive about this one, but it just didn't strike a chord with me.  


"Big Brass Four Poster" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Big Brass Four Poster   (Kim Weston - V. Basemore) - 3:30
2.) Something I Can Feel   (William Salter) - 3:02
3.) Love Don't Let Me Down   (Vinnie Poncia - Pete Andreolia - R. Bloom - J. Linde) - 2:34
4.) He's My Love   (William Stevenson - Kim Weston) - 3:33
5.) Here Comes Those Heartaches Again   (James Cleveland) - 2:44
6.) What's Gonna Happen To Me   (Kim Weston) - 4:07


(side 2)
1.) Something   (George Harrison) - 4:19
2.) My Man   (M. Yvain - C. Pollock) - 2:48
3.) Windmills Of Your Mind   (M. Legrand - M. Bergman - A. Bergman) - 3:24
4.) Eleanor Rigby   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:37
5.) Sounds Of Silence   (Paul Simon) - 3:45


SRB 10/2009




Genre: soul

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  This Is America

Company: MGM

Catalog: SE 4561

Country/State: Detroit, Michigan

Grade (cover/record): V+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; minor seam split top edge

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 451

Price: $20.00


You had to wonder how a fairly conservative label like MGM decided to release a product like 1968's "This Is America".  Even some four decades after its release, literally everything about the album seemingly screams controversy - the title, the packaging, some of the songs themselves ...   Imagine how it must have come across in 1968.   Produced by William Stevenson (then Kim Weston's husband), the collection actually didn't have much of a soul edge, rather surrounded Weston with a strange mixture of patriotic tunes ('This Is America' and 'This Is My Country') and material lifted from musicals and film soundtracks.  You were left to wonder what the marketing game plan was - while there wasn't anything wrong with Weston's performances, the songs were too MOR for soul audiences and too bizarre for pop audiences.   It was almost as if MGM decided to release an album knowing it would tank.  From a thematic standpoint  I've always wondered if the collection was intended as a straightforward slice of patriotism, or a subtle commentary on existing social, economical and political injustices.  Noted historian and journalist Nat Hentoff's liner notes seemed to support the former, but the inclusion of  'Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing' (popular known as the Black National Anthem) always led me to believe the latter.   Wonder of Weston ever discussed it ?   


"This Is America" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) This Is America  (Ernie Shelby - Beth Beatty) - 3:13

With a big over-the-top orchestral arrangement, 'This Is America' sounded like something out of a USO show.   rating: ** stars

2.) When Johnny Comes Marching Home  (adapted by Marty Paich) - 2:39

While she didn't really mess with the traditional melody (okay you probably never heard an electric sitar on the version you sang in school), Weston's cover of 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' was given a quiet, but disconcerting feel.  I've always taken her cover to be ironic.      rating: *** stars

3.) If I Ruled the World   Cyril Ornadel - Leslie Briucusse) - 3:10

While I couldn't complain about her voice, 'If I Rule the World' wasn't particularly soulful, rather came off as kind of supper club jazzy.  Nice sentiments though.  rating: ** stars

4.) The Impossible Dream (The Queen)   (Mitch Leigh - Joe Darion) - 2:16

Her cover of 'The Impossible Dream' stuck pretty close to the original melody and arrangement which meant this one had a distinctive MOR feel.    That didn't stop MGM from tapping the track as a single.   rating: ** stars

5.) Born Free   (John Berry - Don Black) - 2:38

Another soundtrack effort, Weston at least gave her cover of 'Born Free' a bouncy, breezy arrangement that managed to salvage the song.   rating: *** stars

6.) Somewhere   (Leonard Bernstein) - 2:05

Hum, I'll grudgingly admit her swinging cover of 'Somewhere' wasn't bad -  it won't appeal to everyone and you have to be in the right mood, but it was kind of nifty.   rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) The Exodus Song   (Ernest Gold - Pat Boone) - 3:40

Not soul, not pop ...   thoroughly MORish, but give Weston credit for pulling it off.   rating: *** stars

2.) People   (Bb Merrill - Judy Styne) - 2:52

It started out sounding like something from a Perry Como Christmas special and in spite of some nice electric guitar, simply never recovered.   rating: ** stars

3.) Touch the Earth   (Jeri Southern - Gail Allen) - 2:48

Pure lounge act - sounds like something you would have heard at a Holiday Inn.  rating; * star

4.) Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing   (J. Rosamond Johnson - James Weldon Johnson) - 4:12

Tapped as a single, about all i can say is Weston's cover of 'Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing' has a clear sense of elegance and majesty,  The resulting profits were donated to the United Negro College Fund.  The track also appeared on the Wattstax film and accompanying soundtrack.  Complete with Jessie Jackson introduction, YouTube has a clip of the performance: 

5.) The House That I Live In    Earl Robinson - Lewis Allen)- 4:41

On the heels of one of the standout performances, ' 'The House That I Live In' was simply bland and forgettable.   rating: ** stars

6.) This Is My Country   Al Jacobs - Don Raye) - 2:09

Nice sentiments, packaged in another lounge act arrangement that then exploded into a sappy television variety special soundtrack - I can see the little kids stepping out with their flags.  rating: ** stars


As mentioned above, the album spun off a pair of singles:


- 1968's ''Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing' b/w 'This Is America' (MGM catalog number K-13927)

- 1968's 'The Impossible Dream' b/w 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' MGM catalog number K-13928)


 In 1970, in conjunction with Weston's appearance at the Wattstax concert, the small Pride label reissued the first single:


- 1970s ''Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing' b/w 'This Is America' (Pride  catalog number PR 18)