Several months ago a friend at work brought in a compilation of 1970's Philadelphia soul (this one, if I remember correctly.) A lot of it was more than familiar--like listening to my childhood--though none the less welcome for it. The one track that blew my mind, making me wonder how I had possibly never heard it before, was Dee Dee Sharp Gamble's version of "Ooh Child." It's hard to think of many songs of its type that, at this point, fall further into the category of cliche than that one. I remember putting it on 1970's mix tapes 20 years ago or so and everyone enjoying it, but for a long time now it's buried under the weight of ersatz Aaron Neville renditions and the like. Dead, dead, dead.
There's nothing dead about Sharp Gamble's take. To a post-seventies listener, the introduction with piano and strings sounds like the sort thing that, within a year or so of her recording, would be used to lead into a frantic disco beat. Instead, as the music crests and the bass and horns ease into the song with unexpected delicacy: ooh child, things are going to get easier . . . In part it's the great production (so much space in those recordings!), but the match of Sharp Gamble's vocal and the instrumentation comes across as a perfect balance of warmth and generosity. The last minute or more of the record may switch the mood into agreeable but minor vamping, but it can't do anything to take away the impact of the first few minutes. It'll make your head much lighter.
Big RED & Shiny has published its last issue, for which I failed to write anything (no surprise there); it follows many of the blogs this irrelevant website came up with in shuffling off. A whole bunch of others have taken their place, but I've not warmed up to many of them, and besides, we're now told the web is dead. The things taking its place seem at once significantly worse while still attractive enough to succeed, at least for the time being. And now I learn definitively that I've not even been in the running for a job I thought I might have a chance at and (worse) came to desire deeply; that it went to someone far better suited to it than me is proving no comfort. So: blah.