Gloria Lynne: If You Don’t Get It Yourself + I’ll Take You All the Way There
From Happy and In Love (Canyon, 1971)
I’ve been going through a short stack of records, looking for stuff to sell and I had put this Lynne on the shelf for consideration. I had originally picked it up for “If You Don’t Get It Yourself,” which I thought was a nice enough example of female funky soul but with more time, it just didn’t sizzle as much as other records I had so I figured I could put this one up. However, I realized I had never really listened to the entire LP and in giving it that last shot, it became clear that I should have really given this a fuller session. It’s not transcendentally good but it’s also better than just a single-tracker.
Lynne is one of those mid-century singers who managed to dip into a few genres – gospel, jazz, pop, soul – but was never really at the top of the pack in any of them. She’s best known as a jazz singer, especially in the 1960s, and by the time she had recorded this album for Canyon (her sole output for the imprint), she had heading towards a nadir in her career (her next major album wouldn’t be until 5 years later and after that, it took over a dozen years before she was back in the studio). Not being that familiar with her catalog, I’d still surmise that Happy and In Love was probably a bit of aberration for someone who spent most of the previous decade doing jazz and torch songs. This is an unquestionably soul album and Lynne performs admirably in that capacity – hers isn’t quite as powerful or rich as her colleagues but her training means she knows how to make the best use of what she has. She sounds a little like a rougher edged, less powerful Etta James which might be apt since “I’ll Take You” was actually written by James’ cousin Monk Higgins (undersung but prolific ’60s-’80s blues and soul producer).
Even though I originally picked this up for the mid-tempo funk track, it’s actually the ballads like “What Else Can I Do,” “Dont’ Tell Me How To Love You” and the second selection above, “I’ll Take You All the Way There” that are the primary reason why I decided to keep it. Nice string arrangements by Art Freeman, a good rhythm section (anchored by Paul Humphrey) and a great, bluesy touch by Lynne add up well.