“Spice Of Life” by Marlena Shaw - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1969Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

The second album from the 27-year-old New Yorker was, for my tastes, a class apart from her jazzy debut set from 2 years earlier, with a focus which was generally more aware of where it's at musically, socially and politically. The assassination of Martin Luther King was a wake up call for many, Marlena included. “Strong, true, my eyes ain’t blue I am the woman of the ghetto” she states in her opening salvo, “Woman Of The Ghetto”. “How do you raise your kids in a ghetto, Feed one child and starve another, Tell me, tell me, legislator”. Damn! Her performance is as vital as the band; this was a deeply grooved, politically charged, Aretha-styled stunner. “I'm Satisfied” serves up another classy slice of funky soul, and comes complete with a nagging mouth harp (a cool recurring feature of the album) to seal the deal. Side two opens strongly with the fantastic “Liberation Conversation” in which our on-form diva chants: “blues aint nothin but a good woman gone bad… stormy Monday” hee hee… it’s like Billie Holiday gone hot and funky, I'm giving it “yowsa!” This leads into the rightly revered “California Soul”, a highly orchestrated and extremely classy slice of dancefloor soul. Strangely, the album takes a nosedive from thereon, back to the boring old days of two years ago, the Cilla-Black-esque “Looking Through The Eyes Of Love” completely killing my mojo.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [06:05] 9.5.png Marlena Shaw - Woman Of The Ghetto (Robert Miller, Marline Burgess, Richard Lee Evans) Disco / Funk
A2 [03:05] 5.8.png Marlena Shaw - Call It Stormy Monday (Aaron Thibeaux Walker) Jazz
A3 [02:23] 5.6.png Marlena Shaw - Where Can I Go? (Leo Fuld, Sigment Berland, Sonny Miller) Soul
A4 [02:50] 7.8.png Marlena Shaw - I’m Satisfied (Morris Dollison) Soul
A5 [03:14] 5.6.png Marlena Shaw - I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free) (Billy Taylor, Dick Dallas) Soul
B1 [02:05] 8.0.png Marlena Shaw - Liberation Conversation (Bobby Miller, Marlena Shaw) Disco / Funk
B2 [03:00] 7.5.png Marlena Shaw - California Soul (Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson) Soul
B3 [02:46] 4.0.png Marlena Shaw - Go Away, Little Boy (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) Jazz
B4 [03:00] 3.3.png Marlena Shaw - Looking Through The Eyes Of Love (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil) Pop
B5 [02:59] 4.9.png Marlena Shaw - Anyone Can Move A Mountain (Johnny Marks) Soul Ballad

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