Album Reviews: From The .50 Bins

Are you surprised when digging for albums at your local thrift store or Goodwill when you find a cool record in good condition or that just simply need a good cleaning?


1. Arthur Prysock  – Here’s To Good Friends (1978)  ••• out of 5

Sometimes known as a jazz singer, sometimes known as a R&B singer, Arthur Prysock was immediately recognizable for his golden throaty baritone voice reminiscent of the great Billy Eckstine. Arthur Prysock fronted big bands throughout the 1940’s. went solo in 1952 and enjoyed great success for four decades. Present in this list is Prysock’s classic 1978 album of R&B, Pop, and Jazz Standards. 


2. Ta Mara And The Seen – Ta Mara And The Seen (1987)  •• out of 5

Best known for their hit “Everybody Dance” Ta Mara And The Seen were among the many acts that came out of Prince’s Minneapolis funk/soul scene in the 1980’s. Ta Mara caught the attention of Time guitarist Jesse Johnson, who helped Ta Mara And The Seen get a record contract with A&M also produced the bands self-titled debut album in 1985. The song “Everybody Dance” became a major hit, but unfortunately Ta Mara & The Seen would not have another hit and would disband in 1989.

3. Tawatha Agee – Welcome To My Dream (1987)  ••• out of 5

Welcome To My Dream is an unknown R&B classic by Tawatha Agee from 1987. Possessing a crystal clear yet sensually soulful voice, Tawatha Agee’s approach to a song will keep listeners on the edge of the seats hanging on to every word that flows from this unsung legend. 

4. Stephanie Mills – Sweet Sensation (1980)  •••• out of 5

Produced by Reggie Lucas and James Mtume, Sweet Sensation was the album that truly provided the former child star with the direction that she needed. Lucas and Mtume crafted an optimistic selection of mid-paced grooves that showcased the zest of Mills’ voice and fully made real her potential.  Never Knew Love Like This Before was the album’s big hit, and it’s perfectly understandable to hear why – it’s simply one of those beautiful, life-affirming soul records.


5. Burt Bacharach – Greatest Hits (1973) •••• out of 5

  The Greatest Hits is compiled from Bacharach’s classic five albums for A&M Records; Reach Out, Make It Easy On Yourself, Burt Bacharach, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and Living Together. Released in 1973, this stellar collection spotlights not only his immense ability as a composer, but is superlative arrangements and production skills. 


6. Bing Crosby & Rosemary Clooney – Fancy Meeting You Here (1958)     ••• out of 5

Fancy Meeting You Here is an album of duets by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney that was released in 1958 by RCA Victor. The arrangements are by Billy May, who conducted the orchestra. Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen contributed introductory and concluding versions of “Love Won’t Let You Get Away” and “Fancy Meeting You Here”.


7. Clifford Brown – The Beginning And The End (1973)  •••• out of 5

This 1973 compilation compiled the first and the last recorded performances of one of Jazz’s greatest soloist.  In addition to his trumpet playing being so refined and so perfect you could always tell he was playing with sincerity and love in his heart, that’s a model

.that I’ve tried to keep going.

8. Mongo Santamaria – Working On A Groovy Thing (1969)  ••• out of 5

The title tune, “Spinning Wheel,” “My Cherie Amour” and “Get Back” are among the choices, with Sonny Fortune occasionally scorching the earth on alto sax, Joe Farrell turning up on tenor, and ever-versatile Bernard Purdie stoking the fire alongside Mongo.


9. Diana Ross – Silk Electric (1982)  ••• out of 5

Diana Ross continued her steady pace in the early 1980’s scoring a hit single with the “Muscles” written by Michael Jackson.  Silk Electric reached #27 on the Billboard Top 200, #5 on R&B Billboard Charts and #33 in the UK Album Charts. 

10. Dionne Warwick – Friends In Love (1982)  •• out of 5

Songs on the album include the title track, a duet with singer Johnny Mathis, which made the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #38, in addition to charting on the Billboard R&B and adult contemporary charts at #22 and #5, respectively. A follow-up single, “For You”, peaked at #14 on the adult contemporary chart. This album also contains the Cynthia Weil / Barry Mann song “Never Gonna Let You Go”, which would become a hit the following year for Brazilian musician Sérgio Mendes.


11. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Rock ‘n Soul Part 1 (1983)  •••• out of 5

Rock ‘n Soul Part 1 (also titled Greatest Hits – Rock ‘n Soul Part 1) is a greatest hits album by American musical duo Hall & Oates, credited as “Daryl Hall John Oates” on the album cover. Released by RCA Records in October 1983, the album featured mostly hit singles recorded by the duo and released by RCA, along with one single from the duo’s period with Atlantic Records and two previously unreleased songs recorded earlier in the year: “Say It Isn’t So” and “Adult Education”.


12. Wendy & Lisa – Are You My Baby 12″ (1989)  ••• out of 5

Not as innovative but more solidly enjoyable than their debut, here they return to solid funk on the powerful and sly “Are You My Baby”, their most Prince – like song to date.  “Are You My Baby”,  contains two funky bass lines and impressive vocals by Wendy. 


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