The Young-Holt Unlimited Born Again / Mellow Dreamin' (2-CD)
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Format: CD (2 Discs)
by The Young-Holt Unlimited ~ Definitive Young-Holt Unlimited
- Number of Discs: 2
- Released: July 20, 2004
- Label: Water
Tracks on Disc 1:
- 1.I'll Be There
- 3.We've Only Just Begun
- 4.Hot Pants
- 5.Make It With You
- 6.Luv Bugg
- 7.Wah Wah Man
- 8.Queen of the Nile
- 9.Blood in the Streets
- 10.Save the Day
Tracks on Disc 2:
- 1.The Devil Made Me Do Dat
- 2.Going in Circles
- 3.Wichita Lineman
- 4.Mellow Dreamin'
- 6.Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
- 7.The Creeper
- 8.There'll Be a Greater Day
- 9.Black and White
- 10.Midnight Cowboy
2 LPs on 1 CD: BORN AGAIN (1970) / MELLOW DREAMIN' (1971)
Young-Holt Unlimited: Eldee Young (bass instrument); Redd Holt (drums).
Personnel: Cash McCall (guitar); Eldee Young (electric cello, electric bass, 8-string bass); Frank Gordon (trumpet, flugelhorn); Ken Chaney (piano, electric piano, organ); Bobby Lyle (piano, organ); Marylean Holt (piano); Isaac "Redd" Holt (drums); Donny Hathaway, Eulaulah Hathaway, Barbara Fernandis, Paul Serrano (background vocals).
Additional personnel: Kenneth Chaney, Bobby Lyle (keyboards); Donny Hathaway.
Audio Remixer: Lewis Hahn.
Liner Note Authors: Eldee Young; Redd Holt; Isaac "Redd" Holt; Pat Thomas .
Recording information: P.S. Recording Studio, Chicago, IL (1971-1972).
Water Records has become the label for left-field reissues of obscure and/or forgotten recordings. This double-disc set, by Young-Holt Unlimited, brings to light on CD two of the group's most overlooked, adventurous outings, Mellow Dreamin' (1970) and Born Again (1971). They were issued on Atlantic's Cotillion imprint, the label drummer Isaac "Redd" Holt and bassist Eldee Young signed to after leaving Brunswick in 1969. The two discs are presented here in reverse order. Mellow Dreamin's opening cut, "The Devil Made Me Do Dat," (a nod to comedian Flip Wilson's infamous bit) still had the good-time soul-jazz groove that made 1969's "Soulful Strut," a smash, albeit with a wild eight-string electric bassline by Young, but that's where the resemblance stops. The droning Hammond B3 and call to arms of Frank Gordon's flugelhorn on the cover of "Going in Circles" signals a new direction. Its laid-back funk rhythm, elegiac melody, and expansive harmonic palette -- and tons of effects -- showed the band taking their thang to new sonic worlds. The wide open, dreamy reading of "Wichita Lineman," is one of the best versions ever, with Gordon's flugelhorn solo warmly and emotively pushing the bridge into the twilight zone before Young's killer bass solo slips the sound of the street seamlessly in the back door. Add to this the sweet summery grace of the title track and the spaced out gritty funk of keyboard boss Kenneth Chaney's "Trippin" and "The Creeper," and you have left the planet, only to be pushed into another astral sphere with the space-case read of "Midnight Cowboy" at the close. Born Again was recorded in 1971, in the aftermath of the summers of love and hate, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and at the height of the Vietnam War. Young-Holt Unlimited wanted to create a spiritual music that brought people together at a very fractious juncture. The swinging version of "I'll Be There" that opens the set with Bobby Lyle on B3 in counterpoint to Young's eight-string "lead" bass is breathtaking. Likewise, an extended version of George Harrison's "Something," with Eldee playing both electric and upright is a blissed-out mind-bender. Other covers, such as "We've Only Just Begun" and Bread's "Make It With You," sound like paeans to reconciliation and brotherhood more than they do love songs. The contrast is on Holt's elegy "Blood in the Streets," which offers a muted funereal drumbeat, an emotionally moving street-savvy string arrangement by Richard Evans, and a haunting backing chorus. Still, the sweet groove is here, too in Marylean Holt's simmering "Luv Bug," Evans' funky-to-the-hilt "Hot Pants," and Young's finger poppin' booty shaker "Wah Wah Man." Simply put, these are must-haves for anyone interested in soul-jazz, soul music, or sophisticated, mellow funk. They're archetypal classics and the CD transfers are phenomenal. ~ Thom Jurek
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