Loleatta Holloway ‘Loleatta’ (BBR) 5/5

Loleatta Holloway
Loleatta Holloway was one of the classiest soul singers who was extremely versatile and equally adept at interpreting heart wrenching ballads as she was with uptempo dancers. This expanded edition of her strongest album for Salsoul is a fitting tribute to the singer who passed away in 2011. Holloway started her caeer during the early to mid-1970s on the little known independent label Aware records out of Georgia and while there she cut a superb single and album both entitled ‘Cry to me’, produced by husband Floyd Smith, which have both become real soul classics. One of the other songs featured was a mid-tempo song ‘Casanova’ and this would be re-worked as a disco stomper by duet Coffee in 1980. When Aware suddenly folded in 1976, the brothers Cayre came into the picture. Initially interested in setting up a Mexican music distribution in New York, the brothers sof Syrian-American heritage soon discovered that it would be more profitable to branch into the emerging new Latin music which fledgling label Fania was pioneering. By the mid-1970s disco was in the ascendancy and while hearing the production talents of husband Smith, Ken Cayre was introduced to Loleatta and she became one of the first non-Latin singers to sign for Salsoul. This album was the magnificent result. Three bona fide dance classics are included and in both album and extended 12″ versions. for good measure If ‘Hit and Run’ has rightly become an anthem, the other two are just as worthy dancefloor winners. Arguably the pick of the trio is the classy mid-tempo tune ‘Dreamin’ while for stylish orchestrations the superb ‘We’re getting stronger (the longer we stay together)’ is another fine contender. However, it would be wrong to assume that Loleatta here focussed solely on uptempo numbers. Two Floyd Smith productions are superior ballads with the gentle ‘Worn out broken heart’ a quiet storm favourite. For a lovely, varied mid-tempo tune, Curtis Mayfield’s ‘What now’ rounds off the terrific set. It helped greatly that Norman Harris was in charge of the majority of the album’s songs and that of course meant Holloway was backed by the MFSB house band at Sigma studios. With no less than five bonus tracks and informative sleeve notes, the listener is in for a sonic treat.

Tim Stenhouse