Friday, May 20, 2011

Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul - How high Rare takes 1974

These 13 tracks, ten of which are previously unreleased, presumably date from 1974 when Joe Quarterman and his six-piece band were under contract to Mercury (with the exception of "I Want My Love," which clearly dates from the early '60s at a time when Quarterman was appearing with a doo wop-ish female backing group as Sir Joe & the Maidens). The influence of James Brown is evident in the tight hooks and grooves, but there's a touch of fragility, femininity even, to Quarterman's voice (Shuggie Otis often comes to mind) that imbues the lyrics with a touching sense of humanity, a magic that disappears when pushed too hard ("You're Driving Me"). Though none of the cuts rivals the political urgency of the preceding year's eponymous album on GSF, one wonders why, despite its luscious string arrangements, rattling jawbones, and tight rhythm guitar interplay (none of which would be out of place in a classic blaxploitation movie), Quarterman's contract was terminated shortly after these recordings were made. Only "Get Down Baby" and "I'm a Young Man" were released as singles by Mercury, which makes the discovery of masterpieces like "I Can't Understand You" and "Seems to Me" all the more welcome. AMG.

listen here


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