Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rare Earth - The Very Best Of

Biographyby Gary Hill
Rare Earth began as an R&B band called the Sunliners in Detroit in 1961. Of the musicians who would be part of the band dubbed Rare Earth, only sax player Gil Bridges and drummer Pete Rivera were present. John Parrish joined on bass in 1962. Rod Richards became a guitarist with the group in 1966. Keyboardist Kenny James came into the fold the same year. After years of doing the club circuit, the group changed their name to Rare Earth and released Dreams/Answers on Verve. The album received little reaction and the group was picked up by Motown Records as the first act on their yet-to-be-named new label. Rare Earth suggested to Motown that the label name their new subsidiary after ... Read More...
1. Get Ready - Rare Earth, Robinson, Smokey2. (I Know) I'm Losing You - Rare Earth, Whitfield, Norman3. Born to Wander - Rare Earth, Baird, Tom4. I Just Want to Celebrate - Rare Earth, Zesses, Nick5. Hey Big Brother - Rare Earth, Zesses, Nick6. What'd I Say - Rare Earth, Charles, Ray [1]7. Good Time Sally - Rare Earth, Baird, Tom8. Every Now and Then We Get to Go on Down to Miami - Rare Earth, Zesses, Nick9. Ma - Rare Earth, Whitfield, Norman10. Hum Along and Dance - Rare Earth, Whitfield, Norman11. Big John Is My Name - Rare Earth, Whitfield, Norman12. Chained - Rare Earth, Wilson, Frank [5]13. Warm Ride - Rare Earth, Gibb, Barry14. Tobacco Road - Rare Earth, Loudermilk, John D.
Before the rise of the Average White Band in the mid-1970s, the most successful blue-eyed soul unit was Rare Earth (although the Spencer Davis Group was also quite popular). Influenced by Sly & The Family Stone and the artists of Motown as well as 1960s rockers like the Kinks, Rare Earth had a distinctive sound and offered some of the most exciting music of 1969-73. The Detroit outfit didn't fare as well among Black audiences as AWB; Earth recordings that soared to the top of the pop charts only went to #20 or #30 on the R&B charts (probably because Earth was much more rock-influenced than AWB). At any rate, this gem-filled CD illustrates just how Earth could be. Spanning 1969-1978, The Very Best of Rare Earth boasts such essential hits as "I Just Want to Celebrate," "Get Ready" and "I Know (I'm Losing You)." If much of the material reminds you of Norman Whitfield's work with the Temptations and Edwin Starr, it's no coincidence; Earth often worked with the great Motown producer/songwriter. In fact, "Hum Along and Dance," "Big John" and "Ma" are among the most rock-influenced recordings that Whitfield ever produced. But at the same time, Earth was much too funky for some rock programmers. "Warm Ride" (1978) finds the band being produced by the Bee Gees and taking a stab at disco; the results are decent, though not nearly as strong as its earlier work. Most of the material, however, isn't simply decent -- it's excellent.
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