The Patterson Singers – 1972 – The Patterson Singers
Read Reviews, Buy the Album or Download the Album for free
I know it is simplistic, but it is hard not to draw comparisons between The Patterson Singers and The Staple Singers. Like The Staples, under the auspices of front man/keyboardist Robert Patterson, The Patterson’s started their recording career as a hardcore Gospel group. Starting in 1959, over the next decade the group recorded a string of singles for small non-secular labels, and four LPs , including a 1968 German-only package (“Gospel On Tour” United Artists catalog number UAS 29101). Similar to The Staples, by the early 1970s The Pattersons were ready to try their hands at secular material.
A1 My World Tumbles Down 3:10
A2 How Can You Say That Ain’t Love 2:52
A3 Love Is Color Blind 3:00
A4 Throw A Farewell Kiss 3:53
A5 It Was Almost Something 2:40
A6 The Only Time You Say You Love Me 4:10
B1 A Letter Full Of Tears 3:40
B2 I Wanna Be Free 3:00
B3 Working Together 3:48
B4 That’s Understanding 3:24
B5 Your Love Is Something Else Again 3:08
Signed by Atlantic’s ATCO subsidiary, the group (now featuring namesake keyboardist Robert Patterson and singers Barbara Appling, Mildred Lane, Mary Stephens, and Barbara White), was teamed with producers Dave Crawford and Brad Shapiro. Recorded at sessions held in Muscle Shoals, Miami’s Criteria Studios, and New York’s A&R Studios, the group made their secular debut with 1972’s “The Patterson Singers”. In spite of the fractured recording sessions, the results were consistently impressive with lead singer Lane showcasing a voice that easily gave Mavis Staples a run for her money. Similarly, tracks like ‘My World Tumbles Down‘, ‘How Can You Say That Ain’t Love‘, and ‘A Letter Full of Tears‘ found the group mining the same Gospel-soul-pop territory that turned The Staples into international stars. Unlike The Staples, creatively namesake Patterson was no Pops Staples meaning The Pattersons did not write their own songs, forcing the group to rely on outside material. Luckily, the producers and the group showed good taste in material, tapping into an impressive collection of material including compositions from Don Covay, Eddie Holland, George Soule, and Ike Turner. All hyperbole aside, anyone into The Staples was liable to find this set irresistible. Classic early-’70s soul that was bound to bring a smile to your face.
Opening with some Gospel-tinged piano and organ, it took a minute to kick into gear, but when ‘My World Tumbles Down‘ got going, Mildred Lane and company were every bit as good as the best of The Staples catalog. With a simply killer chorus, you had to wonder how this blazing ballad missed hit status. Showcasing Tom Spivey’s energetic drumming, ‘How Can You Say That Ain’t Love‘ was a wonderful slice of pop-soul. As mentioned earlier, talk about giving The Staple Singers a run for their money …
Pretty much anything the criminally overlooked George Soule touched is worth hearing and ‘Love Is Color Blind‘ was a perfect example of his songwriting talents. With a patented ’70s activist lyric, Soule had a way of writing a song that was thought provoking, without being in-your-face obnoxious. Of course the song’s only as good as the singer and in this case Lane was near perfect. I’ve always loved that unique Norman Whitfield soul-psych feel and complete with electric guitar-tuned-to-sound-like-a-sitar, it was abundantly present throughout the ballad ‘Throw a Farewell Kiss‘. The Temptations recorded this one as well.
Hum, ‘ It was Almost Something ‘ sounded like one of those insidiously catchy Honey Cone singles on Invictus (The Chairmen of the Board actually recorded the song for the label). Another tune that simply had top-10 potential written all over it. You had to wonder why ATCO didn’t go with this one as a 45. One of the album’s few disappointments, their cover of ‘The Only Time You Say You Love Me‘ sounded pressed and brittle, as if they were simply trying too hard this time out. Interestingly, Mavis Staples recorded the song for one of her solo albums. Seriously, how could you go wrong with a Don Covay tune ? You can’t, and The Pattersons simply crushed this one “A Letter Full of Tears “, (I’m guessing this was one of the Muscle Shoals recordings), turning in what was probably the album’s best straight-ahead soul tune.
“I Wanna Be Free” is Another impressive performance with the addition of some jazzy horn charts to the mix. One of the best Ike Turner covers I’ve ever heard, on their version of ‘Working Together‘, Lane and company managed to mine the same pop-Gospel-soul vein The Staples turned to gold. This one was highly commercial with a melody that wouldn’t quit and one of those socially conscious, thought provoking and uplifting lyrics you found yourself humming along to. That’s probably why ATCO tapped it as the single.
‘That’s Understanding‘ is a Classic soul storybook tune that sounded like they’d borrowed it from a good Clarence Carter album. Fantastic hook on this one.
‘Your Love Is Something Else Again‘, Wow, with Lane turning in a vocal that would have made Aretha proud and backed by some screaming Duane Allman-ish slide guitar , they get funky !!!