In the world of popular music from the classic era of the sixties and the seventies, there are only a few unmistakable female voices. These are the kind of talents that, even if you only hear a second or two of a song, you know who the singer is immediately. The names that come to mind are Cher, Dusty Springfield, Patsy Cline, and Aretha Franklin. Perhaps the most unique voice of them all and the most beautiful belongs to Gladys Knight.
The way she phrases a melody with such feeling, emotion, and – dare I say it – soul makes her stand out in a musical crowd of hundreds of other talents. It’s not as much how she sings a lyric but what she sings between the lyric with her woah-ho-ho’s and the cries of anguish that touch your heart.
If Gladys is the sentence, then her Pips are definitely the punctuation and one without the other just doesn’t work. The Pips are her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight, and her cousins Ed Patten and Bill Guest. These three talented men make it possible to sing along with Gladys even the first time you hear the song.
And what songs! I’ve listened to this CD for two days now and constantly find myself singing or humming “Neither One of Us” written by J. Weatherly. This song brought the hurting soul to Motown and it’s been there ever since. If there were only one track on this CD, that tune would make it completely worth the price. The heartbreaking song is about a couple that wants so bad to stay together but both know it won’t work, even though “… we just go on hurting and pretending, and convincing ourselves to give it just one more try.”
But there is more, much more, because this talented group had enough crossover appeal to conquer both the pop and R&B charts at the same time, and with the same music. In my opinion, it’s because they recorded songs that told stories instead of just fluffy fun songs.
“Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me” is the tale of a woman telling her man how grateful she is for their shared love. “Midnight Train To Georgia” tells of a couple down on their luck and a husband who must move to another town without her. He’s trying to make a better life for both of them, and tells of her hopes of joining him there later. “If I Was Your Woman”… well, the title is pretty self-explanatory and the song is unforgettable.
I highly recommend you try this great collection.
*My personal favorites. **My absolute favorites.
1. Feel Like Makin' Love
2. Makings of You
4. Midnight Train to Georgia*
5. If I Was Your Woman**
6. Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)**
7. Sorry Doesn't Always Make It Right
8. Love Finds Its Own Way
9. Walk Softly
10. To Make a Long Story Short
11. Way We Were/Try to Remember [Live]*
12. Still Such a Thing
14. You're Number One (In My Book)* Powered by Sidelines