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Concert in Blues/Color Her Sunshine
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Wlllie Hutch. Originally issued in 1976, "Concert In Blues" and "Color Her Sunshine" are making their worldwide CD debut with this 2015 two-on-one set.
As one of the mainstay producer/songwriters at Motown during the ‘70s, Willie Hutch (1944-2005) worked with the likes of The Jackson 5 (at the very onset of their career, as the co-writer and co-producer of the Grammy-winning classic "I’ll Be There"), Michael Jackson (as vocal arranger for his first solo single, "Got To Be There"), Smokey Robinson (on his first solo albums), Marvin Gaye ("Let’s Get It On") and other key Motown fellow artists.
Willie’s own recording career at the label began with the successful soundtrack for the ‘blaxploitation’ movie, "The Mack" in 1973 which spawned two US Top 20 soul singles, the now-classic "Brother’s Gonna Work It Out" and "Slick." His first ‘proper’ Motown solo LP "Fully Exposed" was released that same year and was followed by the soundtrack for "Foxy Brown" and the solo albums ."The Mark Of The Beast" (1974) and "Ode To My Lady" (1975), which spawned Willie’s biggest solo hit single, "Love Power."
Born Willie McKinley Hutchison in Los Angeles and raised in Dallas, Texas, the multi-faceted music man’s early career included work with pop singer/songwriter Johnny Rivers, soul man Al Wilson, and pop/R&B groups The 5th Dimension and The Friends Of Distinction. He also recorded two solo albums for RCA Records ("Soul Portrait" and "Season For Love"). An early morning 1970 phone call from Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. led to Willie’s first session with The Jackson 5 and in the wake of the success of "I’ll Be There," the talented guitarist and keyboardist was signed to Motown.
The album CONCERT IN BLUES (a Top 30 US R&B charted LP) was notable for its inclusion of Willie’s soulful interpretations of a range of songs including the ‘40s classic, "Stormy Weather," the blues standard "Stormy Monday," the rock’n’roll anthem "Shake, Rattle & Roll" and the ’40s pop hit, "I Wish You Love" along with original tunes such as "Party Down," the album’s US Top 20 soul groove hit and funky cuts like "Come On Let’s Do The Thing" and "Don’t Let Money Keep You Acting Funny." The track "Baby, Come Home" has been sampled by rap, hip-hop and R&B artists including Ghostface Killah (feat Ne-Yo) and Lil’ Kim (featuring Mary J. Blige)
The follow up album, COLOR HER SUNSHINE was entirely written, arranged and produced by Willie (who also played guitar and keyboards) – while less commercially successful than its’ predecessor – was a fine showcase for the mix of soul grooves and love ballads that became Willie’s stock in trade. Standout tracks include the single, "Shake It, Shake It" and the easy-like-Sunday-morning title cut which has been sampled by Rick Ross (featuring Avery Storm) and Three 6 Mafia.
Willie – whose music has also been heavily sampled by other rap and hip-hop artists of note including 50 Cent and Kanye West – made one more Motown album fin 1977 Motown before signing with Whitfield Records and then returning to Motown in 1985.
This new reissue (produced by David Nathan of SoulMusic Records) represents one of soul music’s true heroes and is sure to be embraced by Motown enthusiasts who have long appreciated Willie’s contribution to the label’s legacy. Remastering by Nick Robbins, artwork by Roger Williams and stellar notes by renowned US writer A. Scott Galloway includes quotes from a 1998 interview with Willie.
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Thank God for Andy Peebles, because I first heard Willie's version of "I Wish you Love" on his eclectic and delightfully long Sunday night radio show. It was, and is, spellbinding - on headphones, in the dark.
I bought the 'Concert in Blues' album on vinyl in the intervening years, when I was already fully digital, just to have it really. Imagine how delighted I am not only to have a CD with 'Concert' but also 'Color her Sunshine', an album I'd never heard before and am growing to love, especially the funky "I Like Everything about You".
I've not even read the sleeve notes yet, which look like they may be substantial. I'm trusting my old ears, and not only does Willie's voice and songwriting still do it for me, but the sound on this reissue (which has surely used the original masters) is outstanding, I mean outstanding.
If you love soul music, listen to Willie Hutch. If/when you become a fan, do yourself a favour. Buy this.