Mojo (Publisher) - p.1043 stars out of 5
-- "Highlights include the conscious-soul groove of 'Wants and Needs' and the fusionist 'We Got Love.'"
Personnel: Melvin Ragin, Ray Parker, Ray Parker Jr., Kenneth Hawkins (guitar); Ernie Watts (saxophone); Clarence McDonald, Jerry Peters (keyboards); Ed Greene (drums); Gene Estes, Joe Clayton (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Greg Venable.
Liner Note Author: Justin Cober-Lake.
Recording information: Devonshire Sound Studios, North Hollywood, CA.
Illustrator: Ron Kriss.
Photographer: Herbert Worthington III.
Arranger: H.B. Barnum.
It's safe to say that there is no other recording in the catalog of drummer and vocalist Buddy Miles like this one. Recorded in 1974 and produced by the great Johnny Bristol, this places Miles in a strictly soul setting with some funky backdrops in places -- thanks to the arrangements by H.B. Barnum -- and while it never rocks, it rolls throughout. This is a set of smooth soul grooves, with Miles offering some of the best vocal performances of his career. The players on this set include the great Funk Brothers bassist James Jamerson; saxophonist Ernie Watts; guitarists Kenneth Hawkins, Melvin Ragin, and Ray Parker, Jr.; keyboardists Jerry Peters and Clarence McDonald; percussionists Joe Clayton and Gene Estes; and Miles playing drums, organ, and bass. The session includes strings and a female backing chorus as well. There are some grooved-out steppers like "We Got Love" and "Wants and Needs (The Earth Song)" with a horn section, wah-wah guitars, and uptempo, rousing strings creating a slippery early disco feel -- even if Miles' voice isn't completely up to the standards of the period's production. The gospel-flavored, Philly-influenced soul of "Pull Yourself Together" that opens the set works like a charm (there is an edited version tacked on as a bonus track on the Wounded Bird CD release), and the rollicking percussion-driven funk of "We Got Love" carries within it equal parts Ray Charles, Leroy Hutson, and Barry White. Fans of Miles' rock & roll style will likely hate this, but those interested in early- to mid-'70s soul will greet this forgotten album with open arms. ~ Thom Jurek