Personnel: Richard "Groove" Holmes (organ); Wayne Morrison (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Karen Joseph (flute, alto flute, piccolo); Lew Soloff, Earl Gardner (trumpet); Jim Buffington, Ray Alonge (French horn); Lollie Bienenfeld, Charles Stephens (trombone); Mario E. Sprouse (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, cowbells); Doug Wilson (drums); Phillip Read Mason (percussion).
Recording information: Sound Ideas, New York, NY (11/1977).
Photographer: Chuck Stewart.
Arranger: Mario E. Sprouse.
Corny and gimmicky as hell but still a strange charmer in its own right is this "soundtrack" set of funky movie music and pop tunes from Richard "Groove" Holmes. Recorded in 1977, Holmes is accompanied by a studio orchestra hosting a six-piece brass section (which includes trumpeter Lew Soloff), a flutist, a rhythm section that features sundry percussion, and Mario E. Sprouse on Rhodes and piano. Beginning with a medley of themes from Star Wars and Close Encounters, the orchestra all but blazes over Holmes, but he does manage a sweet little solo and some hip fills. "Carry on My Wayward Son" (yeah, the Kansas tune) is simply surreal with its staggered French horns and trombones with flute and B3 interludes. But it gets even cheesier with a faux classical intro to a nearly ten-minute "You Light Up My Life" that makes no sense at all here except for kitsch value. Yeah. Whoa. But the long tunes don't stop there, as Holmes and band sprint through a sprightly yet lengthy (over ten minutes!) light funk read of "Gonna Fly Now" from the Rocky soundtrack that is the finest track on the set, with Holmes digging into his solo with gritty verve. It closes with the Carole Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamlisch tune "Nobody Does It Better" (a hit for Carly Simon) which sounds like an elevator music version. Whatever Groove Holmes was thinking when he made this should have made him think again. Strange, campy, bad in all the right places -- this one is for collectors and novelty freaks only. ~ Thom Jurek