Freda Payne delivered three albums on Capitol from 1977-1979. On "Stares and Whispers," it's clear that she's in a Disco element, but it's the kind of Disco that's sexy and obscure.
On the opening, "Master of Love," the listener is treated to an at first, very downtempo love song that morphs into a full out romantic Disco jam complete with a percussion breakdown and some of the most impressive vocal improvisations ever I've heard.
On the sole hit single (which tragically wasn't a hit at all), "Love Magnet," is where the magic REALLY begins! The metaphor itself is ingenius and it opens with a fully orchestrated overture which brings the listener into another Disco jam in which she coos, "You're a love magnet...pullin' me into your range..." SO sexy! And who else, but THIS classy R&B siren could pull something so risque as this off?
Much like Thelma Houston's "Don't Leave Me This Way" or Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," "Love Magnet" had all that it took to burn up the charts, but for some reason (Ahem...perhaps Capitol's typically poor promotion,) it never took off. Another similar song by labelmate, Gloria Jones, "When I Was A Little Girl," suffered the same fate and was just as significant.
This album is soooo sensual and feminine that the element of water seems to come to mind, not to mention that she's with child on the front cover with little Gregory Abbott, Jr..
Disco was a very funny trend. One song may have been a hit for ONE artist and for another, a flop. It was all hit or miss and in the case of Miss Freda, the Disco hits were all misses. It's puzzling and heartbreaking. The music was spot on, contagious and meticulously arranged. In addition to the uptempo moments, there's also a nice spread of sexy, slinky balladry featured in this platter of very "Payne-ful" late 70's "bedroom" Disco/R&B similar to that of Sylvia "Pillow Talk" Robinson.
Despite the huge commercial failure of her Capitol debut, this is one album that should NOT be overlooked. It's a "Disco," if you will, masterpiece and thanks to David Nathan and the crew at Soulmusic Records, it's available for the first time on CD for generations of R&B/Soul lovers to REexamine. It's Payne that feels GOOD!