(4 / 5)
Jools Holland’s favourite female singer. Hailed a national treasure in the UK, the Jamiacan-born artist spent her formative years in Birmingham and began her recording career in 1980.
Cutting singles for the independent Sunflower label. Building a reputation as one of the foremost singers and performers on the British soul scene, Ruby signed with Jive Records, recording her first LP, “Women Hold Up Half The Sky” in 1986.
That record included her Billy Ocean-produced duet with Jive label-mate Jonathan Butler on a cover of The Staple Singers’ 1973 hit, “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)”. The LP yielded three further UK charted singles, including “In My Life (It’s Better To Be In Love)”, written and produced by Monte Moir (formerly of The Time); a rare extended version of the track is included here along with the 1987 charted single version of “I’d Rather Go Blind”, a constant show-stopper in Ruby’s live shows.
Two discs, 32 tracks in total, 16 on each CD. Compiled by US musicologist and writer Justin Kantor, who also provides the liner notes with extensive 2017 quotes from Ruby Turner. The set includes six tracks from Ruby’s 1988 album “The Motown Songbook”, along with seven tracks from her 1989 set, “Paradise”, including the US No. 1 R&B hit, “It’s Gonna Be Alright”.
There is also six tracks from Ruby’s final Jive LP, “The Other Side” here, with production by Womack & Womack and Hula & K. Fingers. Rarities include “Another One Night Stand”, previously available as a bonus track on a Japanese version of “Paradise”; the Brixton Bass Mix of “It’s Gonna Be Alright”; the Da Posse Mix of “The Other Side”; and the New 7” Edit of “It’s A Cryin’ Shame”.
There are many good moments among this sparkling compilation, including her song with The Temptations, their smash hit, “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)”, and her tie up with The Four Tops on “Baby I Need Your Lovin’ “, their classic.
A lovely rendition of “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted”, with Jimmy Ruffin, and the passionate version of the immortal, “Only Women Bleed”. A # 12 hit for Julie Covington in the UK in 1978, written by Alice Cooper and Dick Wagner, the song included on Ruby Tuner’s debut album in 1986.
But the whole collection is a great reminder of just how flipping good our Ruby is as singer and as an artist in her own right. Ruby is in constant demand as a live performer globally, in her own right and as part of Jools Holland’s celebrated Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. A favourite on BBC Radio 2 who spin her music regularly. More solo hits to come maybe…
By Christopher Weston
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’