And Still More Again...

Since there wasn’t much variation in the other elements one wonders whether the departure of Johns was the major factor. The fact that it was the fifth album they’d released between April 1968 and June 1970 may also have something to do with the matter. While I haven’t listened to the album in years, even at $10.99 I’m not in a hurry to buy a copy from the iTunes store and lack of an operational turntable means that the vinyl copy isn’t going to get a workout any time soon. Basically, after a couple of listens I filed the vinyl away and waited to see what came next. I wasn’t quite ready to write Miller off, but at the same time I was starting to have some serious reservations.

I think I heard the following album once. In fact I may well have failed too get all the way through the first listen to Rock Love. A mixture of  live and studio recordings, the album was almost universally condemned. if I went as far as buying a copy it was long ago consigned to a second-hand store. It’s certainly conspicuous by its absence from the vinyl collection, and if I’m disinclined to pay $10.99 for Number Five, there’s no way I’m shelling out $17.99 for Rock Love.

Recall the Beginning.jpgFrom the opening bars of 1972’s Recall The Beginning...A Journey From Eden all was, however, forgiven. Welcome is a snappy little instrumental, the sort of thing you’d expect a soul revue to kick off with, nothing outstanding in itself but the playing is crisp and it grooves along nicely. Handclaps and ooh aah vocals lead into Enter Maurice, a wonderful little slice of doowop. Always had a soft spot for the old doowop, and there was a bit of a revival at the time. It mightn’t have been the stuff of the earlier albums (but then again Sailor featured Gangster of Love, which wasn’t a million miles removed from the vibe here). In the space of two tracks much of Number Five and all of Rock Love was forgiven. A false, finish, and there’s Maurice back again, little cries from his lady friends, and a slightly more chilling ending.

The tempo drops right down for High On You Mama, slinky slide underpinning a laid back groove. After the sonic mess that prevailed on the previous two albums (again, I suspect that the change in the producer’s chair had something to do with that) the sound is crisp and clear with warm vocal harmonies. Nice. Heal Your Heart starts with a loose-limbed groove, a harbinger of some of the things to come, and while it’s not my favourite track, I wasn’t skipping past it in a hurry. The Sun Is Going Down is nothing out of the bag either, but a pleasant enough listen. The end of Side One of the album sees the groove from Welcome back as Somebody Somewhere Help Me, an up-tempo blue-eyed soul number that brings the side to a snappy finish. While it wasn’t as consistently great as some of the earlier work the side could comfortably filed under Welcome Returns To Form.


© Ian Hughes 2012