It helps. It helps that the songs are greats. Great songs. Actually, some of the greatest songs ever written.
And then the production is brilliant. The acoustic guitar base of Baby, I Need Your Loving, for example. Then all of the other production elements. How about the gospel rendition of Reach Out, I’ll Be There? Sublime. Spanish guitar on Berandette.
The guests too. Gregory Porter as an accompaniment. Stellar.
There have over the years been many of these ‘reimaginings’, done primarily for copyright reasons [as I recall] where the artist/s needs to re-record in order to earn royalties that have otherwise gone elsewhere [record companies/management] from those original and hugely popular recordings and playing. But these have so often been second-rate, the artist/s no longer at the peak of their initial recordings.
And can Lamont Dozier sing these classics made famous by others?
Have I been pleasantly surprised?
You haven’t worked that out yet?
I think this is a superb album, great songs given this fresh airing, even Cliff Richards on This Old Heart of Mine had me in goose-bumps – it’s the song I know [those memories that come flooding in with the listening] – but it is a gorgeous, simple piano arrangement – with some chorus joining in – and Richards here has a gravel in his voice that may well be more than aging and a result of what he too has been through, as these songs have travelled through and across our collective times.
Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) rocks. Then there is the sweet, nostalgically parenthetical I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – no not as great as the original, that’s not what I’m saying, but here a piano and Lamont solo reminding of the perfection of the songwriting. Reach Out, I’ll Be There gets a reprise with Jo Harman accompanying, and this too reminds of all I have said about the whole of this excellent revisit, a gospel celebration again of this song.
The album has a strong start: beginning on Supremes Medley with, a little surprisingly [but no more than Cliff Richards…], Graham Nash joining on vocals, essentially as sweet harmony; the fourth track is Baby I Need Your Loving with Lee Ann Womack, and the second track is the stand-out, with Gregory Porter guesting on How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). How sweet indeed.