Jackie Moore “Make Me Feel Like A Woman” (Henry Stone Music HSM 5059-2)
by Pete Nickols
A GOOD 1975 SOUL ALBUM MADE AVAILABLE IN CD FORMAT FOR THE FIRST TIME
At The Top Of The Hill; Make Me Feel Like A Woman; Heart Be Still; Old Time Sake; Puttin’ It Down To the Way I Feel; Tired Of Hiding; Inside Out; The Bridge That Lies Between Us; Never Is Forever; Singing Funky Music Turns Me On.
This straight 10-track privately-pressed CD-R reissue of Jacksonville native Jackie Moore’s 1975 Kayvette 801 LP does at least come from rights-owner Henry Stone, who I believe is still with us and will be 91 in June 2012. The audio quality is OK but with nothing but the original front and back covers shown, no additional notes and a total running time of only 29mins 45secs, importing this CD from Dustygroove in Chicago (as I did) comes somewhat on the expensive side – though to be fair it retails at only $9.99 Stateside.
Kayvette was a co-venture between Stone and producer Brad Shapiro and it fell to Jackie Moore to launch the label back in 1975 both via her single of “Make Me Feel Like A Woman” (Kayvette 5122), which reached No.6 on the R&B chart (Jackie’s biggest-ever R&B hit), and also via the original album of the same name from which this CD is taken (Kayvette 801). She would have a further 4 Kayvette single R&B hits before moving on to Columbia in 1977. (Kayvette also put out another 2 singles by Jackie after her Columbia deal ended in 1980). Her Kayvette album did not chart, although Jackie did manage 2 R&B album charters in her career, namely her good earlier Atlantic 7285 LP “Sweet Charlie Babe” and her later disco-slanted “I’m On My Way” on Columbia 35991.
The disco era was beginning to bite by the time Jackie cut these Kayvette sides and Henry Stone was already getting ready to ‘major’ on its fast-growing popularity in the Miami area, so it was with some relief to ‘real’ soul fans that few of these tracks, cut at Muscle Shoals Sound and Miami’s Criteria Studios, reflected that particular musical style.
Despite having said that, Brad Shapiro obviously wanted to kick the album off to a flying disco-y start with Clarence Reid’s very ‘busy’ “At The Top of The Hill”. Funk-lovers may enjoy this one but it’s just too ‘over the top’ of the hill for me and I’m afraid the synths in the backing soon ‘get to me’ too. Not an auspicious start to the album for me – but, thankfully, there is much better to come!
Jackie’s big R&B hit was relegated to Track 2, probably because of its more lay-back mid-tempo pace. It’s a fine piece of storyline southern soul and the Muscle Shoals boys and the ever-reliable Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes on back-ups give terrific support behind Jackie’s beautifully expressive lead-vocal.
“Heart Be Still” is not the gospelly Bert Berns-Jerry Ragovoy song of that name cut so tellingly by Lorraine Ellison, but rather a contemporary (for 1975) driving piece of rhythmic soul, great for dancing or just foot-tapping. It’s not an exceptional piece by any means but it is well-enough handled by Jackie and is certainly very listenable.
Ashford & Simpson’s “Old Time Sake” takes us back to a much more meaningful soul style with good storyline lyrics, plenty of emotion from both Jackie and the backing singers and a quite gospelly feel to this otherwise melodic piece, especially towards its strong climax.
“Puttin’ It Down To The Way I Feel” is what I would call a ‘pretty’ soul song in the best sense of the term. There’s a naivety about it which is actually quite engaging and Jackie rides the catchy melody so well, her interpretation adding reality to the quite simple lyrics.
“Tired Of Hiding” is a fine Phillip Mitchell co-penned ‘cheatin’ song’ with Jackie complaining she wants to be able to be with her married guy on a more regular day-to-day basis and not have to keep hiding away in case his wife should ‘rumble’ their affair. A lyrical piece of soul, it’s fully orchestrated but still very appealing and the subtle nuances are not lost on Jackie who interprets the song so well, adding real vocal drama at appropriate junctures.
“Inside Out” is a gem of a track. This is a great piece of quietly emotional country-soul with a fine dramatic climax – a beautifully-constructed song with Jackie’s voice sounding very like Candi Staton at times.
More storyline soul is on offer via the very appealing, gently-rolling-paced “The Bridge That Lies Between Us”, co-penned by Jackie herself. It’s a lyrical outing which catches the listener up in its soulful beauty and clever lyrics.
Brad Shapiro penned the last two tracks on offer here. “Never Is Forever” makes a bit of a meal of stressing that one should say precisely what one means and be careful how it’s phrased. To me this mid-pacer is a bit ‘makeweight’ and I find the repetitive and almost child-like lyrics detract from what is actually quite a pleasant melody.
Bringing things to a close is a piece as funky as it’s “Singing Funky Music Turns Me On” title would indeed suggest. This is mid-paced funk though, not the ‘driving’ variety, and Jackie is more than up to empathising with what’s required here. It’s funk rather than disco and all the better for that.
This selection will never rank in the top-ten of female soul albums but, bearing in mind its late-ish date for a mainly ‘real’ soul ‘set’, the sheer quality both of several of the songs on offer and of Jackie’s vocal ability throughout together ensure that this CD release will help preserve what are probably some pretty well-played original Kayvette LPs in soul-fans’ collections.