Willie Hutch – 1969 – Soul Portrait
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Main Review by Soulmakossa
Rip, posting and additional info’s by Nikos
What do you know about Willie Hutch ? “The Mack“. Yeah. “Foxy Brown“. Yeah. Two masterpieces, two soundtracks. But Willie also composed albums for himself, so to speak. “Soul Portrait” was his debut album, and, hot damn, it wasn’t a foot set in the industry, it was a whole leg.
Responsible for the music and the words of most of the album, Willie Hutch set the record straight in 1969. This incredible effort attracted the ears of Detroit label Motown on the L.A.-born singer. Indeed, after releasing two albums on RCA, Willie Hutch started writting for Motown superstars The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson etc. And had the career we know.
A1 Ain’t Gonna Stop 3:08
A2 You Can’t Miss Something That You Never Had 2:37
A3 A Love That’s Worth Having 2:51
A4 Good to the Last Drop 3:03
A5 That’s What I Call Lovin’ You 1:56
B1 You Gotta Try 2:28
B2 Let Me Give You the Love You Need 2:35
B3 Lucky to Be Loved by You 2:52
B4 Keep on Doin’ What You Do 2:17
B5 Your Love Keeps Liftin’ Me Higher 2:31
B6 Do What You Wanna Do 3:09
Before Willie Hutch became a leading blaxploitation soundtrack giant (‘The Mack‘, ‘Foxy Brown‘), he actually recorded some truly mindblowing Southern-styled soul in the late ’60s and early ’70s. ‘Soul Portrait’, his first of two LPs forRCA – and arguably the finest – just brims with brass-powered, gritty soul waxings that stand firmly on their own. It’s totally original, with Hutch cooking up a tasty dish of Stax-flavoured grooves and a hint of Detroit gloss. “Ain’t Gonna Stop” hits ya right on the head, a funky, mid-tempo floorshaker carried by a ferocious drum ‘n’ conga rhythm. Hutch’s raspy, fatback vocal really comes to the fore here, with gorgeous female backing vocalists coo-ing behind him and layers of horns further filling up the groove with funkadelic goodness. Released on single, it inexplicably failed to chart. The bumping “You Can’t Miss Something That You Never Had” incorporates a lot of the Motown-vibe that Hutch himself had been so responsible for creating. A great, rollicking bit of uptown soul full of ‘country wisdom’. The beautiful, minor-keyed “A Love That’s Worth Having” is up next. A stylish, mid-tempo, brooding ballad drenched in sliding horn charts and featuring a few funky brothers kicking in some Stax-esque backing vocals.
A nifty, twangy guitar lick propels the loping, horn-heavy head bobber “Good to the Last Drop“, a track starring some of the LP’s hardest breaks. “That’s What I Call Lovin’ You” is more traditional, although it does have a nice, gospelish piano in it and another wistful, contemplative vocal from Hutch. The Groove Express huffs on with the stupidly funky “You Gotta Try“, a slab of southern fried nastiness that actually has a bit of that typical blaxpo-noise in there, especially with the blazing horns.
Hutch revisits Hitsville once more with the decidedly Motownish “Let Me Give You the Love You Need“, which would have made a great Four Tops tune. Superb horns, snappy vocals and a thundering rhythm throughout. The vibe is equally ‘uptown’ on the bouncing “Lucky to Be Loved by You“. Hutch’s trademark gutbucket guitar stylings are all over the intensely groovy “Keep on Doin’ What You Do“, another smoldering funk-based fingersnapper that again has some embryonic elements of blaxpo in it. Incessant, fat, thumping work-out…
“Your Love Keeps Liftin’ Me Higher” is not the legendary soul gem popularized by Jackie Wilson; instead, it’s a Hutch original that sounds a bit more low-down and far less jubilant. It has the crashing drums, piles of brass and hard hitting congas, though, so it’s all good.
Ending this super soul platter is the fast-paced, anthemic ‘get up and dance’ admonition of “Do What You Wanna Do“. Lyrically name-checking about every then current dance fad around, Hutch goes for the true funk sentiment: just do what ya wanna do!