(4 / 5)
It’s almost Christmas, so it’s time for champagne and celebration. In this case, we celebrate the talents of one of the finest r&b/dance and soul music of the late 70s and beyond.
This champagne is a great vintage, and fizzing with killer cuts on the bumper eight-disc, 82-track gem from UK label SoulMusic Records, produced by the label’s boss David Nathan who has known Evelyn since 1977.
This set offers up all eight of Evelyn’s RCA albums recorded between 1977-1985. While each of Evelyn’s albums has been reissued at different times on CD, this is the first-of-its-kind deluxe box set that includes all eight, with handpicked bonus tracks.
The package includes essays by Brian Chin, who contributes an overview of Evelyn’s years with RCA, complete with 2020 quotes from Evelyn herself and producers T. Life and Paul Lawrence Jones, among others. Charles Waring provides an in-depth commentary on each of the eight albums.
Philadelphian Evelyn recorded a number of signature anthems, establishing a global audience in the process that has made her a consistent, dynamic performer for over five decades.
Disc One: “SMOOTH TALK” (1977) produced by T. Life includes the timeless and infectious smash hit, “Shame,” a US Top 10 pop, r&b and dance hit. Also here is her follow-up hit “I Don’t Know If It’s Right”. Bonus tracks are 12” Disco Mixes of each of the two hits.
Disc Two: “MUSIC BOX” (1979), also produced by T. Life, features the US-charted hits “Out There” and the title track; again, we get 12” versions of both tracks.
Disc Three: “CALL ON ME” (1980) was initially released in 1980 with the title “Sweet Delight” and different tracks; the original LP was withdrawn and retitled with a new track listing. The expanded edition includes all the tracks from “Sweet Delight”, as well as the 12” version of the US R&B/dance hit, “Let’s Get Funky Tonight”.
Disc Four: “I’M IN LOVE” (1981) features the US r&b and dance music #1 title track, production work from Morrie Brown with Kashif and Paul Laurence Jones; and the team of Willie Lester & Rodney Brown. Expanded edition bonus track, 12” dance mix of “I’m In Love”.
Disc Five: “GET LOOSE” (1982) contains two of Evelyn’s most memorable hits, “Love Come Down” and “Betcha She Don’t Love You”, both written and co-produced by Kashif. Here we get the 12” version too.
Disc Six: “FACE TO FACE” (1983) represents a change of style, with producers Leon Sylvers and his team and Minneapolian Andre Cymone placing Evelyn in different musical settings. Includes the US charted singles, “Action” and “Teenager”.
Disc Seven: “SO ROMANTIC” (1984), one of Evelyn’s most diverse RCA LPs, features an array of producers including Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, Cliff Magness & Glen Ballard, Hawk Wolinski ,The System and Jimmy Douglass.
Disc Eight: “LONG TIME COMING (A CHANGE IS GONNA COME)” (1985), Evelyn’s RCA swansong album, reuniting her with T. Life and includes production by Hawk; Bobby Watson with Rene and Angela; and the team of Allen George & Fred McFarlane – who provided the hits “High Horse” and “Your Personal Touch”. Extras are a dance version of the latter, along with two non-album ‘B’ sides, “Take A Chance” and “Better Deal”.
If you want a classy Christmas ‘box’ to make the party swing, (limited attendance within the rules, we know!), then this case of Champagne could be the answer……
By Rob Bishop
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’