2 LPs on 1 CD: SIDE EFFECT (1975)/WHAT YOU NEED (1976).
Side Effect: Sylvia Nabors, Helen LaRue Lowe, Augie Johson, Gregory Matta, Louis Patton.
Recorded at Sound Factory and Hollywood Sound, Hollywood and Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California.
Personnel: Sylvia Nabors, Gregory Matta, Louie Patton, Augie Johnson (vocals); Marion "The Magician" McClain, Ray Parker, Jr., Arthur Adams (guitar); Arthur Wright (strings, horns); Jim Coile (saxophone); Ralph Jones , Ronnie Laws (tenor saxophone); David Luell, Dave Mason Band, Herman Riley, Jackie Kelso (baritone saxophone); Richard Burdell, Rostelle Reese, Clifford J. Ervin, Dennis Christianson, Melvin Moore, Oscar Brashear, Steve Madaio, Thara Memory, Al Aarons (trumpet); Don Cook, George Bohanon, Dan Brewster, Mayo Tiana (trombone); Michael Hepburn, Donald Hepburn, Jerry Peters, Joe Sample (keyboards); Kenneth "Spider Webb" Rice , Bruce Carter (drums); Stephanie Spruill (tambourine); Vance "Mad Dog" Tenort, Bruce Smith (percussion).
Audio Remasterer: Kirk Felton.
Audio Remixers: Byron F. Clark; Frank Byron.
Liner Note Author: David Nathan.
Recording information: Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA; Hollywood Sound, Hollywood, CA; Sound Factory.
Photographer: Phil Bray.
Arrangers: Gregory Matta; Arthur Wright; Augie Johnson.
Both commercially and creatively, Side Effect did not live up to its enormous potential. The vocal group had a very attractive sound, and with the right material, it could have been huge. But unfortunately, Side Effect often settled for decent when it should have been excelling. Nonetheless, the quartet did have its moments. In 2002 -- long after Side Effect's breakup -- Fantasy reissued its first two albums (1975's Side Effect and 1976's What You Need) back to back on this 73-minute CD. Both albums were produced by trombonist Wayne Henderson (of Crusaders fame), and they're quite similar; on both albums, Side Effect favors a mildly jazzy approach to '70s soul and funk. And Henderson was an appropriate producer for Side Effect because he had both jazz and R&B credentials -- before the Crusaders played jazz-funk, they were a Jazz Messengers-influenced hard bop outfit. But while Side Effect is a decent debut, What You Need is more than decent -- it is excellent. And What You Need contains some of Side Effect's most essential recordings, including the funky "S.O.S." and the L.A. residents' remake of the Crusaders' "Keep That Same Old Feeling." What You Need was also the album that gave listeners Side Effect's stunning version of Ronnie Laws' "Always There," which was originally a soul-jazz instrumental but became an R&B vocal number when Paul Allen's lyrics were added. There are two female singers heard on this CD -- Sylvia Nabors on Side Effect and Helen Lowe on What You Need. And while Nabors is competent, Lowe is amazing. (It should be noted that Lowe subsequently gave up secular music and re-emerged as gospel singer Helen Baylor). Although Side Effect isn't as strong as What You Need, it's still nice to have both albums finally available on CD. ~ Alex Henderson