Classic early work from Natalie Cole – packaged here in a sweet 2-CD set! First up is the album Thankful – the third record in a tremendous early creative and commerical winning streak for Natalie! Thankful has her sweet, soulful voice out from of prodcution by Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy of the Independents, and they give her a nice jazzy sound that made the record one of her best of the 70s. Richard Evans and Gene Barge arranged, which probably had something to do with that, too – but Natalie truly deserves most of the credit of the strength of this set. It includes the standout groovers "La Costa" and"Annie Mae", but the whole record is really sweet – with "Lovers", "Our Love", "Be Thankful", "Just Can't Stay Away" and "Keeping A Light".
I Love You So is a Capitol killer from Natalie Cole – a really great record from the time when she really seemed to be starting out her career with a bang! As with other gems on Capitol, the record features some great production work from Marvin Yancy and Chuck Jackson, getting a bit of help here from Gene Barge too – all wrapped up with a strong, sophisticated sound that shows plenty of Chi-soul touches in the music – a great approach for Natalie's maturing vocals. The sound is wonderfully balanced, and really stays away from easy hit modes – leaving the lady in a space that's all her own, on tracks that include "The Winner", "I Love You So", "Oh Daddy", "Sorry", "Stand By", and "Who Will Carry On".
Don't Look Back is an overlooked gem from Natalie Cole – a set that still has her working strongly with songwriter Marvin Yancy, who really helped her find her sound and style during the early years of her career! Natalie actually helped with writing a fair bit on the record herself – sometimes with Yancy, sometimes alone – and the result is a surprisingly personal batch of tunes that really show a deepening of spirit in the singer, especially in the mellower moments. Gene Barge handles the arrangements – still bringing a bit of Chicago soul roots to the record – that mix of deep and sophisticated modes that always brought out the best in Natalie. Titles include "Don't Look Back", "I'm Getting In To You", "Paradise", "Hold ON", "Danger UP A head", and "Someone That I Used To Love". ~ Dusty Groove