Barbara Acklin – 1969 – Seven Days Of Night
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An excellent second album by Barbara Acklin – and a perfect demonstration of her really unique Chicago soul talents! Acklin’s really at the cusp of two generations here – at one level still with some of the sweetness of the earlier style of 60s girl soul, but at another full of the power and pride that was really flowing into other artists of the 70s – a balance that’s a great summation of the unique way that Chicago artists could play both ends of the spectrum, and come up with something really unique in the process!
The album includes the great cut “Am I The Same Girl“, a loping soul groover that was all set to be a big single for Barbara – but for some reason, Brunswick held the tape back, stripped off the vocals, put on some piano, and released it as the instrumental “Soulful Strut” by Young-Holt Unlimited at the same time!
Yet we still dig Barbara’s version better, though – nestled here alongside other great cuts.
A1 A Raggedy Ride 2:32
A2 Go With Love 2:14
A3 Seven Days Of Night 2:37
A4 Just Ain’t No Love 2:47
A5 Where Would I Go 2:41
A6 Am I The Same Girl 3:02
B1 Until You Return 3:06
B2 This Girl’s In Love With You 4:26
B3 Here Is A Heart 2:40
B4 Mr. Sunshine 2:37
B5 Love Had Come To Stay 3:06
Barbara Acklin cut her second album in 1969, under the auspices of Brunswick’s primo soul producer Carl Davis and Chi-Lite frontman Eugene Record.
Naturally, the best known song on this collection is “Am I the Same Girl“, a delicious Chi-Soul stomper riding a ferocious horn-driven groove, that would become an even bigger hit when released as an instrumental titled “Soulful Strut” by labelmates Young-Holt Unlimited.
But the opening number, “A Raggedy Ride“, is no doozie either: a fast-paced, rockin’ bit of Windy City soul from, which Acklin co-wrote with Record and Davis. And then there’s the fingersnappin’, infectious groove of “Seven Days of Night“, which is perfectly suited to Barbara’s soft, whispering vocal.
There’s a fatback, gospelly bounce to the Davis/Record original “Just Ain’t No Love” and the gorgeous, well orchestrated ballad “Until You Return“, which she co-wrote, again, with the aforementioned Davis and Record, is simply beautiful.
Unfortunately, as Brunswick was still trying to find out whether it wanted to push Barbara as a soul singer or a pop diva a la Dionne Warwick, there are a few incredibly out-of-place, schmaltzy tracks here as well. She sounds uncomfortable on the selections from the Bacharach/David songbook: “Go With Love” – which itself is completely usurped by over-the-top orchestration – is the least appalling. She sounds better on “Where Would I Go“, although here too the arrangements are preposterously bombastic. The best of the bunch undoubtedly is Acklin’s version of “This Girl’s In Love With You“, which manages to keep the frills and window dressings to a considerable minimum.
Far better are the soul-oriented numbers, and the brassy beater “Here Is a Heart” belongs to that category, as does the equally upbeat, breezy and tastefully arranged mid-tempo ballad “Mr. Sunshine (Where Is My Shadow).
The disc ends on a brilliant note with the sweet, lullaby-esque slowie “Love Had Come to Stay“, another original she co-wrote, and which blows the lounge/cocktail covers mentioned above right out of the water. Check out the dreamy, hypnotizing leit motif in mid-song and during the outro… Haunting…
A great album, and a must for Chi-Soul lovers.
Finally don’t miss her amazing debut “Love Makes A Woman” here.