Millie Jackson had recorded one album, and a couple of singles had been well received, before she hit on a concept which was to elevate her to Soul stardom - she put together an album of songs which told a story, and linked each with a spoken "rap", some of which became as famous as the songs.
Starting with a track which had been a massive Soul hit for Luther Ingram was a great idea. Putting a 5 minute break in the middle, where the other woman could put her side of the story, was sheer genius - and Millie tells it exactly as it is warts and all. The reality of being the other woman does begin to wear thin though, and she confronts the wife on "All I Want is a Fighting Chance" while "Tired of Hiding" brings things to a head. This closes what was the original side 1 on vinyl.
Millie switches seamlessly into the Wife's role next, and she is mad and she is gonna let him know. For me the four tracks that make up the wife's account rank as some of the best Soul recorded EVER. The emotions range from anger and accusation to resignation and regret and more - and Ms Jackson conveys each and every one. THe most surprising interpretation has to be "Summer(The First Time)", here turned into a smouldering reminiscence.
I cannot recommend this album highly enough - it has been part of my collection since it's release in 1974, and seldom long from the current playlist. Buy it and listen to it in it's entirety, the oldest story there is, that of love and loss. Seldom has it been better told.
on 4 December 2006
I'm too old and too busy to listen to music properly as often as I used to these days as a rule, but this just got me. Had to sit down and listen to it all the way through, then listen all the way through again. Reminded me of the first time I saw the film Network recently - couldn't believe that a 70s period piece could seem so fresh and intelligent, whilst really evoking its era. Do yourself a favour and buy it.
on 13 August 2001
This is one of a pair of albums by Miss Jackson that every home should have. On both this and Still Caught Up, she varies between the role of the wronged wife and the unrepentant mistress, between pathos and comedy, and the mix is pretty heady. MJ has one of the great soul voices, a fact that's often overlooked because of her descent in the 80s into potty-mouth rapping. But this is what she did best. And the sequel's even better.
on 15 January 2010
The concept being half the songs sung from the point of view of a woman having an affair with a married man, and half from the POV of the man's wife. "(If loving you is wrong) I don't want to be right" is an all-time classic and this sets the standard for the rest of the album as well. Bonus tracks on this reissue don't really add a lot but the cover of 'Feel like making love' is better than Bad Company though.