Thursday, October 31, 2013



Two early gems from Randy Crawford – back to back in a single set! Everything Must Change is the sublime first album from Randy Crawford – a set that's got a very strong jazzy vibe throughout – and which really shows the great place from which Randy started! There's a careful and classy mix of jazz, soul, and modern R&B throughout – never overdone, but often filled out with just the right sort of larger charts to match that incredible range of Crawford – that singing style that few other artists could match! Arrangements are by William Eaton and Larry Carlton – both with lots of jazzy undercurrents – and titles include a killer live version of "Everything Must Change", plus the tracks "I Had To See You One More Time", "I've Never Been To Me", "I Let You Walk Away", "Something So Right", and "Don't Let Me Down". Miss Randy Crawford is one of the hippest, tightest albums ever from Randy Crawford – a set that's got a great blend of jazz, funk, and soul – all with the kind of poise and polish she brought to her famous work with The Crusaders! Crawford's wonderful vocals are wrapped up perfectly in some cool combo backings which are then augmented by larger strings – a blend that's got a great sort of richness right from the start, but also that special late 70s LA style that never has things getting too soppy or commercial, even when tight. Randy's the perfect sort of singer to make a record like this come out right – and titles include "I Can't Get You Off My Mind", "Over My Head", "Single Woman Married Man", "Half Steppin", "This Man", and "At Last". ~ Dusty Groove


Two early classics from the great Randy Crawford! Raw Silk is a really wonderful little album from Randy – a lot jazzier than previous work, and done in a style that has Randy's vocals backed by small electric combo work on most cuts! Players on the set are a great batch of top-shelf fusion players – and include Don Grusin, William D Smith, Leon Pendarvis, and John Tropea – all playing in different combos from track to track, but keeping things nicely together to match Randy's increasingly soulful vocals. The sound's a real hint at the greatness Randy would hit with The Crusaders – but in a mellower mode – and titles include "Endlessly", "Declaration Of Love", "Blue Mood", "Love Is Like A Newborn Child", "Nobody", and "Just To Keep You Satisfied". Now We May Begin is a great album cut by Randy during the height of her career! She'd just broken big with her vocals on "Street Life" by the Crusaders – and although that track's not on here, the Crusaders team of Wilton Felder, Stix Hooper, and Joe Sample produced the album, and have given it a very similar sound to that track. There's a few weak moments where Randy's singing in a mellower style that lets her voice wobble a bit too much – but the stronger tracks have a good jazz funk groove, and these include "Blue Flame", "Last Night At Danceland", and "My Heart Is Not As Young As It Used To Be". ~ Dusty Groove


A Randy Crawford double-header – with bonus tracks too! First up is the album Secret Combination, rich, proud work from Randy Crawford – sung with the mature mix of jazz and soul that made her one of the more sophisticated mainstream singers of her generation! The album's heavy on mellower cuts, but it's never too sleepy – thanks to a slow-burning sensibility that Randy uses to keep things cooking on the low burners – a style that brings out some good vocal force even when the backings are somewhat gentle. Production's by Tommy LiPuma, and somewhat slick, and tracks include "You Might Need Somebody", "That's How Heartaches Are Made", "Two Lives", "You Bring The Sun Out", "Rio De Janeiro Blue", "Time For Love", "Trade Winds", and "When I Lose My Way". Windsong features Randy singing with relatively full arrangements – smooth, but never too slick – and done in a way that really lets her vocals take command of the entire set. Titles include "Look Who's Lonely Now", "Letter Full Of Tears", "He Reminds Me", "Windsong", "One Hello", "Don't Come Knockin", "We Had A Love So Strong", and "This Night Won't Last Forever". Bonus tracks include a live version of "Street Life" and a duet with Al Jarreau on "Your Precious Love". ~ Dusty Groove


Two 80s gems from Randy Crawford – with bonus tracks too! Niteline is a great crossover moment for Randy Crawford – a set that's filled with catchy little numbers that really helped to break her big to a larger audience, yet still with all the jazzy class of her earlier records too! Linda and Cecil Womack contributed a number of excellent songs to the set, and these balance out the soul component nicely – rounding things out alongside a few of the more crossover tracks. Backings are polished, but still never too clunky or commercial – leaving lots of room for those classic Crawford vocals – and titles include "Nightline", "Living On The Outside", "The Bottom Line", "In Real Life", "Happy Feet", "Lift Me Up", and "Ain't No Foolin". Also features bonus cuts – "Nightline (special version)" and "Nightline (inst dub)". On Abstract Emotions, Randy Crawford's working with arrangements and production from Reggie Lucas – all very much in that sweet 80s style he was bringing to work with other artists at the time! There's plenty of beats, guitars, and keyboards in the instrumentation – pushing an overall sound that's more electric than some of Randy's jazzier sides from the early days. But Ms Crawford's vocals come out strongly on top of it all – with a poised presence that's clearly the main focus of the set. Lucas plays guitar, and also wrote a few of the tracks – and titles include "Can't Stand The Pain", "Actual Emotional Love", "World Of Fools", "Betcha", "Desire", "Getting Away With Murder", and "Almaz". CD features bonus tracks – "Getting Away With Murder (ext)", "Desire (edit)", "Desire (Victor Flores rmx)", "Desire (Victor Flores ext)", and "Desire (acappella)".~ Dusty Groove


Randy Crawford at the cusp of the 90s – served up here on two very big albums from the CD generation! On Rich & Poor, Randy Crawford's really pushing her range nicely – still very much in the jazzy soul mode that brought her big notice right from the start, but also working towards some warmer moments that helped the record cross over nicely too! Randy's range is always amazing – able to inflect feeling into songs, even where you might not expect it – which keeps things interesting, even when some of the tracks are clearly going for the charts. Titles include "Every Kind Of People", "This Is The Love", "Separate Lives", "Love Is", "Cigarette In The Rain", "Wrap U Up", and "All It Takes Is Love". Also features a bonus track – "Wrap U Up (edit)". Through The Eyes Of Love is filled with sweet grooves from Randy Crawford, and is a set that does a really nice job of bringing back some of the jazzier elements from her roots – some warm Crusaders-like inflections that bring Crawford right back to her best sort of style! Instrumentation is nicely laidback at points – still smooth, but maybe a bit more relaxed than some of Randy's late 80s efforts – showing that return to classic elements that was coming into a lot of mainstream soul at the time. The approach works better here with Crawford than it does with most of her contemporaries – some of whom were caught out in the open without any studio tricks to help them out. Titles include "It's Raining", "Who's Crying Now", "When Love Is New", "Diamonte", "Just A Touch", "Like The Sun Out of Nowhere", and "Hold On Be Strong". ~ Dusty Groove

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