Bobby Hebb – 1970 – Love Games

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The voice and pen that crafted the multi-format standard “Sunny” took four years to create as exquisite an album of adult contemporary R&B as you’ll find. This was recorded a full year before Lou Rawls would hit with the Bobby Hebb/Sandy Baron composition “A Natural Man,” three years before Barry White would begin his reign of chart success, and two years before the O’Jays would help bring the Gamble and Huff sound to the masses. The place in time for Love Games is key to understanding the album’s importance as a pioneering classic of original soul music. Stevie Wonder was still singing his pop material before his run as a serious artist, a year before Marvin Gaye would tell, not ask us, “What’s Goin’ On.” Love Games may have been Bobby Hebb’s personal outpouring of grief over his divorce, but the resulting pearl from this intense period is an album masterpiece containing stunning adult contemporary R&B.

Tracks
A1 The Love Bird Has Flown 4.23
A2 I’ve Learned To Care 4.20
A3 Good Morning World 3.52
A4 Grin And Bear It 5.27
A5 S.S. Soul – Part I 3.08
B1 S.S. Soul – Part II 3.45
B2 I’ll Be Anything For You 3.52
B3 Flower 3.22
B4 She Broke My Heart 3.33
B5 A Better Love 3.00
A6 The Charms Of The Arms Of Love 5.00

bobby hebb love games back

This was prior to similar work by Gamble and Huff — a full year before Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye would follow this path creating original music concepts beyond the confines of the Top 40 singles that brought them all fame. With the guiding hand of producer James Fleming and gorgeous arrangements by Fleming, Richard Rome, and Dave Roberts, the man who became internationally famous for writing and singing “Sunny” conceptualizes a complex album of loss and personal survival. “The Love Bird Has Flown” would have fit Ray Charles perfectly on his Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music, Hebb acknowledging his C&W roots, while “I’ve Learned to Care” is the tenderness Deneice Williams would breath into the pop charts 12 years hence. This music is far removed from the compact pop created by producer Jerry Ross on the Sunny album, the songwriter exploring different areas of R&B. He wrote “Grin and Bear It” with Dionne Warwick in mind, and her people heard it, but it would be 15 years before her cousin Whitney Houston would issue these innovative type sounds on her debut. When Marvin Gaye released Here My Dear in 1978 the royalties went to his ex-wife. One could hear the restraint in Gaye’s songwriting — the album failed to yield substantial hits for a hot artist. There are no such limitations here as Hebb paints a moving picture of being forced to move on. Two parts of “S.S. Soul” that conclude side one and open side two show a funky side of a man in a funk: “mine’s just one of many rigs…as I drag my mental anchor.”

This was recorded down the hall from Sly & the Family Stone as they were also breaking new ground, recording “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” and it is interesting to note Epic’s commitment to these urban sounds nine years before Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall album on that label. There is one co-write from the late Sandy Baron, and that composition, “Flower” is Motown flavored with jazz. Hebbsaid he wrote this after watching a butterfly go to the same flower day after day until a bee invaded the space — the butterfly never returned to that same flower. Rawls took the team’s “A Natural Man” up the charts a year from this point in time, but outside of catching the ear of other musicians and loyal fans, Love Games was hardly as successful as all the music it would inspire. It got no promotion from the label, and the album cover would have better suited the Ray Coniff Singers. “A Better Love” continues exploring the theme of how some people treat love like a sport, but through it all there’s a refreshingly upbeat attitude, and a textbook of material which quietly influenced the direction R&B would take through the late ’70s and early ’80s, music which sounds as fresh today as when it was written.

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Conversation for album: Bobby Hebb – 1970 – Love Games

21 Comments
  • Alicia Kirkland
    Posted at 13:19h, 10 January 2016 Reply

    This blog introduced me to many great records. Now I’m hooked. Thnx 🙂

  • Pietro
    Posted at 13:36h, 10 January 2016 Reply

    Ciao nikos!..sei un grande!!…grazie di tutto!!!
    Much love from Italy!!

  • Jonah
    Posted at 22:49h, 10 January 2016 Reply

    Thanks for this one Nikos! Hope all is well in Greece! Love the sample of ‘Flower’ in Mos/Yaasin’s song Priority. Cheers!
    http://www.whosampled.com/sample/157463/Mos-Def-Priority-Bobby-Hebb-Flower/

  • TheMan
    Posted at 22:52h, 10 January 2016 Reply

    Great album, thanks for reminding us all what great music sounds like!

  • Kissme
    Posted at 11:23h, 11 January 2016 Reply

    Amazing share guys. Much appreciated.

  • BrotherChris
    Posted at 12:04h, 11 January 2016 Reply

    great stuff once again, thanks a lot!!!!

  • Emirats
    Posted at 00:27h, 12 January 2016 Reply

    looks like your giving us all an education

  • MGB
    Posted at 10:05h, 12 January 2016 Reply

    Very much looking forward to listening to this. Never seen it before.

  • Miska
    Posted at 19:34h, 12 January 2016 Reply

    Thank from Hungary

  • Louis Mano
    Posted at 11:52h, 13 January 2016 Reply

    Another fantastic post! I just cannot get enough of this stuff! 🙂

  • Ronald
    Posted at 10:19h, 14 January 2016 Reply

    Great R&B from the early 70’s. 

  • Vernon
    Posted at 10:29h, 14 January 2016 Reply

    There are no singers in our day of time that can even come close to anything of this area. love this.

  • McNeil
    Posted at 11:47h, 14 January 2016 Reply

    SO SO BEAUTIFUL…

  • Guido
    Posted at 01:05h, 15 January 2016 Reply

    overwhelming …?

  • Rezzo
    Posted at 10:01h, 15 January 2016 Reply

    Awww mannnnn this is the shyt shyt

  • Otis
    Posted at 10:17h, 15 January 2016 Reply

    4 sho ol school luv song.

  • Lee
    Posted at 16:26h, 16 January 2016 Reply

    I don’t know anything about this album;
    I can’t wait to give it a listen.
    Thanks for another great share.

  • Noni2
    Posted at 16:52h, 16 January 2016 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been very much enjoying your blog. Best of luck.

  • RichardE
    Posted at 04:23h, 17 January 2016 Reply

    Brilliant stuff. The more people that can hear this album the better. Quite simply a lost masterpiece!!

  • Artsoul
    Posted at 13:44h, 28 January 2016 Reply

    Wonderful! This one hits the spot for sure! :¬)

  • rich
    Posted at 21:57h, 08 February 2016 Reply

    nikos whats up bud! its rich.. i havent been on here for a while but i see you’re still putting up them gems. keep up the great work and hopefully mr. moo is still doing the same!

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