Reviews Zone

Willie Hutch: Havin’ A House Party / Making A Game Out Of Love (SoulMusic Records) Out now


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)



I was really, really bored over the August bank holiday weekend. Plans to cover a festival fell through due to the unreliability of a colleague, and it was too late to organise anything else. Unusually for the UK, the weather was very kind and it was in fact, the hottest August bank holiday on record.

So, I decided to stay put, chill out, do very little and re-charge my batteries. Catch up on some reading, watch a little TV, sink a few cold ones and listen to (a lot of) music. My weekend audio soundtrack kicked off with this little gem. Soul star Willie Hutch, and the first worldwide re-issue of two classic Motown albums, in an expanded form with bonus tracks.

This two CD set has been lovingly remastered and offers 25 tracks in total; the two nine-track original albums and two bonus tracks on “Havin’ A House Party”, five bonus tracks with “Making A Game Out Of Love”.

Willie’s seventh album for Motown, “Havin’ A House Party”, released in 1977, was self-produced and hit the US R&B chart top 30, boasting two hit singles, “We Gonna Party Tonight” and “What You Gonna Do After The Party”. After the album dropped, Willie signed with Norman Whitfield’s label.

Willie returned to Motown in 1982 with the infectious “In And Out”, a US R&B and dance hit, and his sole British chart entry, a popular club track in the UK. Three years later, Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. brought Willie on board for the soundtrack of “The Last Dragon” and two tracks from that,“Inside You”, with The Temptations and “The Glow”, formed the basis for 1985’s “Making A Game Out Of Love”, his final Motown LP. This expanded edition includes “The Girl (Can’t Help It)”; the rare ‘B’ side of “In And Out” and three 12 inch mixes.

The L.A.-born, Texas-raised musician and artist, joined a doo-wop group, The Ambassadors, as a teenager. After graduating from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, he shortened his surname when he started his music career in 1964 on the Soul City label,] with the song “Love Has Put Me Down”.

Willie enjoyed success as a songwriter for the 5th Dimension and Al Wilson among others, and had recorded for RCA Records who he signed to in 1969 for two albums.  He signed to Motown in 1973, releasing the “Fully Exposed” album that year, after writing The Jackson 5’s hit “I’ll Be There”. He also co-wrote songs for Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, the Miracles and Marvin Gaye.

Willie’s initial success came with Motown soundtracks “The Mack” and “Foxy brown”, with charted singles such as “Brother’s Gonna Work It Out” and “Slick”. His biggest US R&B hit was 1975’s “Love Power”.

Notes by US writer Kevin Goins includes quotes from Iris Gordy, various musicians and others associated with Willie, born William McKinley Hutchison, who died in 2005, at 60-years-old.


By Simon Redley




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