Thursday, 19 July 2018
Billy Paul - When Love Is New (1975)
Released in 1975
Recorded at Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia
After 1973’s “conscious”, experimental album in “War Of The Gods”, 1975’s “When Love Is New” was a bit more of the same - a mix of meaningful social comment songs and blatantly romantic “late night lurrve” smoochers. (The little-known "Got My Head On Straight" did come in between, however).
The first three tracks fall into the “socially aware” category. “People Power” is a disco-ish, orchestrated exhortation to “give power to the people, if we all pull together…join hands” etc. As usual, Paul’s voice dominates proceedings. “America (We Need The Light)” is a captivating slice of funked-up disco, with a message for Paul’s country to wake up and see what’s going’ down, man. It has that genetic, cymbals-led groove that features on Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ “Bad Luck”, an intoxicating recipe. Billy Paul’s voice is just so good - as smooth as velvet but with a slightly edge. He can cope with whatever is then a him though - fast or slow, funky or smooth. “Let The Dollar Circulate” has something to say to financial organisations (now where have we heard that one before?). It is Temptations-esque in both sentiment and orchestration. It is a funky pot-boiler with a big “movie soundtrack” string backing, together with some pounding drums and Paul telling us that “politicians talkin’ crazy” and wondering “if it is all because of Watergate?" Very much in “Ball Of Confusion” territory.
The odd “Malorie” provides a bridging point between the two distinct atmospheres n the album. It is light, airy, jazzy upbeat number with “easy listening” brass and a feathery vocal from Paul. It is pleasant enough, but sits slightly incongruously after what had been before, or indeed with the serious lovin’ that was to come.
Now, it’s time to dim those lights and slide on up next to me on that couch, honey….Three full-on late night love songs are up next. First off is the beautiful “When Love Is New” - relaxing, slow-paced and romantic. “I Want “Cha Baby” starts with some soulful saxophone, sweet backing vocals ad a yearning vocal from Billy. “I need your body close to mine…” you get the picture? “Let’s Make A Baby” speaks for itself…"don't be shy, let's get down and multiply....". That one made me smile. Some great bongo percussion at the end of the track, as well.
Billy Paul has never rally been given the credit that say The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes or The O’Jays garnered over the ensuing years, which was a shame. He was not just “Me & Mrs Jones”.