A masterpiece in 60s soul – two of Barbara Lewis
' classic Atlantic albums, back to back on one CD! Hello Stranger is a sublime little set that took soul music in the 60s to a whole new level! The record has a wonderful approach that mixes older ballad modes with some of the more mellow, more compressed styles that were showing up in the more sophisticated soul of the time – particularly that of some of the male singers from Chicago. Credit here is especially due to genius Detroit producer Ollie McLaughlin, but arranger Riley Hampton also contributes plenty too – mixing strings with subtler jazzier influences – similar to some of his work with Lorez Alexandria or Walter Jackson, although maybe with a bit more of a pop flourish. Perhaps even more compelling, though, is the fact that all the titles on the albums are originals written by Barbara Lewis
herself – with titles that include "Hello Stranger", "Bended Knees", "Puppy Love", "My Heart Went Do Dat Da", "Would You Love Me", and "Loneliest Night Of The Year". Workin On A Groovy Thing is a record that was issued quite a few years after Barbara Lewis
' debut for Atlantic, but a set that's equally great – thanks to some impeccable production from the great Ollie McLaughlin! The set's got a sound that's a bit more upbeat and soaring than some of Lewis
' earlier work – a groove that's clearly picked up the Detroit styles of the late 60s, but which still retains all the careful classic that Barbara
brought to her music. Titles include "Workin On A Groovy Thing", "I Remember The Feeling", "I'll Make Him Love Me", "Thankful", "Make Me Belong To You", "Sho-Nuff", "I'll Keep Believin'", and "Make Me Your Baby". Very sweet, very soulful, and an essential piece of 60's soul.