Barbara Lewis – Don’t Overlook About Me
Launched 25 September 2020
Subtitled “The Atlantic & Reprise Recordings”, this 3CD set brings collectively 68 tracks by the Michigan-born Good day Stranger hitmaker Barbara Lewis…Ian Canty’s hazy reminiscence can’t cloud her candy however strong soul punch
Barbara Lewis was born in 1943 within the small village surroundings of Salem Township, not that removed from Ann Arbor in Michigan. She got here from a musical household and adopted of their footsteps by growing her abilities on guitar and organ, plus writing and performing her personal compositions. Nevertheless, she by no means initially envisaged a profession in music, as after graduating from highschool her coronary heart was set on coaching as a police officer. Her slight stature put paid to that ambition, with Barbara then deciding to dedicate herself to coaching for a place in nursing. Destiny performed a component at this second, as a result of a tape of her songs discovered its technique to native DJ Ollie McLaughlin, through an introduction from her dad. McLaughlin favored her voice and songs and rapidly signed her as much as his small label Karen, an imprint he hoped would ultimately construct as much as rival native massive boys Motown. It by no means occurred, however Barbara’s profession was set in movement.
She travelled to the well-known Chess studios in Chicago to chop her debut single, My Coronary heart Went Do Dat Da/The Longest Evening Of The 12 months. Launched in 1962, the report didn’t make a splash within the charts, nevertheless it did alert the bigger Atlantic label to Barbara’s potential. They gave the report a nationwide launch and required a comply with up too. The massive breakthrough was to return along with her third single, the self-penned Good day Stranger, issued in Could 1963. It hit the highest of the r&b charts and quantity three on Billboard within the US.
After this success, the hyperlink as much as Atlantic was made strong and Lewis continued to attain R&B hits, and a few sizeable US chart hits, by many of the 1960s, in addition to releasing 5 albums alongside the best way. Her sultry, cool singing model influenced many performers as time went on, exhibiting that one may sing calmly but in addition nonetheless talk with true ardour and soul. The later recordings on this assortment discover her prototyping a creamy and euphoric sound that might be seen as serving to to pave the best way for Philly within the mid-70s.
In 1965 Barbara scored a pair of prime ten singles within the type of Van McCoy’s Child I’m Yours and Make Me Your Child, written by Helen Miller and Roger Atkins. Her final massive success got here with the Chip Taylor/Billy Vera track Make Me Belong To You in the summertime of 1966. She moved to the Stax label in 1970 and launched a well-received LP in The Many Grooves Of Barbara Lewis and in 1972 she signed for Reprise. Sadly, she solely reduce the one single for them, Rock And Roll Lullaby/I’m So Grateful (the final two tracks featured on this set), earlier than bowing out from music for an extended time period.
This new Don’t Overlook About Me assortment commences with the sort of R&B pop with which Barbara made her identify. The massive hit Good day Stranger has a stunning flowing Hammond line, exhibiting her pure enthusiasm for the instrument and likewise benefiting from some superb backing vocals from the Dells. The distinction between Lewis’ candy voice and the Dells’ harmonies is magical, making one want they collaborated extra. The Doo Wop flavoured Does Anybody Need A Lover? is great and the sunshine and sunny On Bended Knee merely pleasant.
I Say Love proves that she was as equally at residence with uptempo numbers as ballads and the massive brass blast of Child, Exercise advantages from a lithe bass line. Although tucked away on her Snap Your Fingers album, which is included in its entirety on the finish of this primary disc, Flip On Your Love Gentle is quick and fiery, and the blues-powered Simply A Matter Of Time bewitching and touching. After a stomp by Twist And Shout, the ultimate observe on this disc is Disgrace, Disgrace Disgrace, a much-covered Jimmy Reed blues quantity that Barbara offers a bracing exercise to, with some neat twanging guitar into the cut price.
Shifting onto disc two, this one begins with a recording session set down in Chicago from 1964. Although it didn’t actually make waves as a single, some beautiful organ swirls enliven How Can I Say Goodbye and Sometime We’re Gonna Love Once more is a handclapping completely happy dance deal with, propelled by some jolly horn work. The Jackie DeShannon/Jimmy Web page quantity Cease That Lady appears to be like at relationship issues in a manner which will have had a little bit bearing within the Vic Godard variety of the identical identify. Make Me Your Child, her ultimate chart biggie, is brassy and superb, and when she says “I’m gonna kiss you is a particular manner” you higher consider it!
The It’s Magic album was aimed toward pushing Barbara extra in direction of a jazz and nightclub blues model, trying to broaden her enchantment. Nevertheless the one Don’t Overlook About Me, a Goffin and King quantity that was minor hit, had little touches of beat music in its guitar jangle. It’s a pleasant model which didn’t make the affect it deserved to. A canopy of Sorrow (additionally coated later by David Bowie) is an actual heartbreaker and he or she proved elsewhere on the LP how adept and cozy she was within the jazz format, like on the interesting exotica of The Shadow Of Your Smile and the luxurious title observe.
The ultimate disc of the set finds Barbara repositioning her soul/r&b leanings in a lighter, however cool and breezy method. It’s crammed full of gorgeous dance numbers completely sung and one of the best disc of the set for my part. Opening providing, Women Want Loving, units out her stall from the get-go, with excessive manufacturing values anchored by her enticing and assertive voice. I’ll Make Him Love Me is splendidly easy and danceable with the vigorous Idiot Idiot Idiot (Look In The Mirror) additionally very satisfying. On Sho-Nuff (It’s Gotta Be Your Love) there’s a little bit gospel within the vocal association, nevertheless it all works very nicely. The ultimate single issued on Reprise does show a little bit of a change of emphasis, there’s a marked nation blues really feel on each Rock And Roll Lullaby and I’m So Grateful.
After the Reprise single, Barbara took the choice to step away from music for a few years. She had been totally occupied by stay work, recording and the mandatory media promotion that entailed for the reason that early 1960s and now had a robust urge to stay the conventional life that had been denied her throughout that point. Although she nonetheless frequently obtained royalties from her again catalogue, she wanted to make ends meet and to this finish pursued all kinds of occupations. Whereas her outdated data have been being found by a brand new technology on the thriving Northern Soul scene, she was none the wiser, working as a safety guard or at a store until. She did start to carry out once more within the 1990s although and continued to offer well-received stage reveals up till 2017, when she lastly retired.
It is a beautiful set from one of many breakout stars of early 1960s soul music. The one factor a little bit disappointing is, as issues went on, Barbara wrote much less of her personal materials. A disgrace as she clearly had a unique voice, as an example the massive hit Good day Stranger was greeted as a love track when it wasn’t – she had received the concept from a neighborhood greeting from her childhood. However that apart, this set is filled with nice materials, superb performances, dance grooves, and heart-stopping emotion. I hope Barbara Lewis is having fun with a cheerful retirement. She definitely earned it as an R&B trailblazer of uncommon expertise.
All phrases by Ian Canty – see his creator profile right here