Freedom For The Stallion (Expanded Edition)
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The Hues Corporation was a soul trio formed in 1969 in Santa Monica, California by band mates St. Clair Lee, Fleming Williams and Hubert Ann Kelley. Their first break came in 1972 with the Blaxploitation film, 'Blacula', in which they made a small appearance, in addition to recording three songs for the soundtrack. It was shortly following this that they were signed to RCA where they released their debut album, 'Freedom For The Stallion', now making its international CD debut on BBR! The Allen Toussaint penned, 'Freedom For The Stallion' - beautifully arranged by Gene Page at the height of his success with Barry White - was The Hues Corporation''s first RCA single. The timely, socially conscious message in the song, with its anthemic quality, was a worthy introduction of The Hues Corporation to the American public, as it peaked at #63 on the Billboard Hot 100. Keen to illustrate the versatility of their new signing, RCA decided to issue the more light-hearted and pop orientated, 'Miracle Maker (Sweet Soulo Shaker)' as the bands second single. The song was penned by legendary Brill Building songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and seemed destined to take on the top 40, however, unbeknownst to RCA it was another album cut that was creating a stir in a new bubbling underground scene that was poised to spread across the world from New York City.
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Naturally, the infectious grooves and "buoyant arrangement" of "Rock the Boat" will be the big draw for many fans, and I'm not ashamed to say that I still love this song 40 years after having first heard it. Magical stuff. But there are plenty of other delightful songs on this album too. The title track, written by the legendary Allen Toussaint is a real highlight. The liner notes tell us how the group "embroidered the nuances of Toussaint's melody with a soulful warmth." Great description. The group's stellar harmonies and socially conscious lyrics are also hallmarks of memorable songs such as "The Family" (a terrific song that had been previously covered by Tony Joe White, and later by Nina Simone) and "Go To the Poet."
The CD includes two Bonus Tracks, but they are nothing more than single edits of two of the album tracks. Not much of a "bonus" to my ears. Nevertheless, the quality of the songs is uniformly good, with several real gems among the bunch. The CD also comes with reproductions of some single labels and an advertisement for the original album, plus a very informative 16-page booklet with details about the group and these recordings written by Christian John Wikane. The track listing includes songwriter credits but no song times. There is also a list of the musicians who played on the album, an impressive roster that includes Larry Carlton, plus Joe Sample and Wilton Felder of the Crusaders.