The most complete hits collection ever of this smooth, falsetto-flavored '70s vocal group. The 20 tracks on this CD include their finest recordings for Atlantic as well as early '80s sides that the band cut for Capitol and Mirage Records, including all but one of their R&B chart appearances. Let the sideshow begin!
Blue Magic includes: Ted Mills (vocals); Bobby Eli (guitar).
Personnel: Blue Magic (background vocals); Billy Ingram (guitar, background vocals); Ted Cohen, T.J. Tindall, Tony Bell, Spencer Bean, Darnell Jordan, Bill Neale, Al McKay, Louis Russell, Norman Harris, Roland Chambers, Bobby Eli (guitar); Jack Faith (flute, alto saxophone); Theodore Life (harmonica); Harry Dixon, Ronald Lee (horns); James Ingram (keyboards, background vocals); Dexter Wansel, Eugene Lambchops Curry, Ernest Straughter, Travers Huff, Erskine Williams, Carlton "Cotton" Kent, Lenny Pakula, Michael Stanton, Ron Kersey, Ted Mills (keyboards); Evette Benton (vibraphone, congas, percussion, background vocals); Victor Feldman, Vince Montana, Henri Smith, Robert Ingram, Bunny Harris, Robert Cupit, Larry Washington, Philip Bailey (vibraphone, congas, percussion); Charles Collins (drums, congas, percussion); John Ingram (drums, background vocals); Earl Young, Larry James, Jerry Jones (drums); Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson, Mikki Farrow, Carl Helm, Bruce Gray, Phil Hurtt, Ron Tyson, Bunny Sigler (background vocals).
Audio Remasterers: Dan Hersch; Bill Inglot.
Liner Note Author: A. Scott Galloway.
Recording information: Alpha int'l Recording Studios, Philadelphia, PA; Hollywood Sound Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Queen Village Recording Studios, Philadelphia, PA; Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia, PA.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Vernon Sawyer; Wendall Sawyer; Richard Pratt; Keith Beaton; Walter Smith .
Arrangers: Vince Montana; Dave Crawford ; Norman Harris; Ron Kersey; Skip Scarborough; Bobby Eli; Butch Ingram.
Released in 1996, The Best of Blue Magic: Soulful Spell typified the pros and cons of compiling a set from one of '70s R&B's best acts. It should be easy. During its 1972-1989 run, Blue Magic always had a fierce and devoted fan base and at least 30 essential songs to choose from. The thing that weighs this set down is the omission of quite a few of those tracks. However, the majority of what's here can't be argued with. "Sideshow," "What's Come Over Me," and "Look Me Up" are all powered by Ted Mills' uncommonly strong falsetto and Norman Harris' earthy yet ethereal productions. This set offers essential tracks from 1975's great 13 Blue Magic Lane. "Loneliest House on the Block," "Haunted By Your Love," and "Chasing Rainbows" are all suitably creepy and sweeping. If anything makes this CD less than great, it's the single edits of album favorites like "Spell," "Look Me Up," and "Chasing Rainbows." The diminishing quality of the post-1975 work doesn't help either. "Teach Me (It's Something About Love)," and "Freak-N-Stein" are as deplorable as the core tracks are sublime. The Philip Bailey co-written EWF clone, "I Waited," the retro "Land of Make-Believe," and the synth-heavy "Magic #" are all textbook flops. Fans will note that essentials like "You Don't Have to Tell Me Goodbye" and 1989's "It's Like Magic" didn't make it here. Sure, most of the work here is great, but a few key inclusions would have made it definitive. ~ Jason Elias