Carol Williams ‘Reflections of Carol Williams’ LP/CD/DIG (BBE) 4/5

It was the 12″ single, ‘More’, that catapulted soul/disco diva Carol Williams to fame off the debut album for disco label par excellence Salsoul on, ‘lectric Lady’, in 1976. In fact, her name was kept in the spotlight by another single from 1978, ‘Love Has Come My Way’, but the follow up was still another year in the pipeline and, indeed, something of a forgotten item until now with its timely re-issue by BBE, with all the essential trimmings of a facsimile of gatefold sleeve and full discographical details. Those percussive soulful strings and brass arrangements that made the Salsoul recording so enjoyable are skilfully reproduced by little known yet highly respected producer Tony Valor who himself came to prominence via a 1976 album by Maryann Fara. As a whole, the second album combines both soulful mid-tempo numbers with out-and-out disco winners, and the vulnerability in the voice is not without recalling Diana Ross in places. Of course, the opener, ‘Tell The World About Our Love’, rejigs the Salsoul recipe and is ripe for sampling by a new generation. That dance floor action is taken a step further on, ‘Dance The Night Away’, with heavyweight percussion a defining characteristic of the Valor production.

However, it is the more relaxed pace of, ‘Love Constitution’, that features the catchiest of choruses (complete with glorious background female vocal harmonies) and then morphs into a soulful disco groove, which impresses more. Tucked away on the second side is a lovely mid-tempo modern soul number in, ‘Baby’, that merely reinforces Williams’ impeccable soul credentials. These are cemented by the soul ballad, ‘He’s My Man’, with introductory monologue, and is a precursor of sorts to the Whitney Houston soul-pop power ballad. Well worth investigating for soul and disco fans alike. No extras.

Tim Stenhouse