jueves, 24 de septiembre de 2009

Rosetta Hightower: Hightower (1971)

Rosetta Hightower made her primary mark as the lead singer of the classic Philly girl group the Orlons, who rolled off a series of girl group soul hits in the early '60s. After the Orlons broke up, Rosetta Hightower moved to England. Alongside other Yankee transplants like Geno Washington and Doris Troy, Hightower played the club and casino circuit that was in the early stages of developing into what would eventually be called Northern Soul. There she recorded a few singles and released a couple similarly titled albums. ‘Hightower’ (1971) was by far the best of these, merging rock, soul, and folk-rock with stellar session musicians like Rick Grech, Harold McNair, Jim Price, and Bobby Keys. Although the song selection leans far too heavily on familiar recent soul hits like ‘Tracks of My Tears’ and ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine,’ her vocal prowess is undeniable: rather than showy over-souled histrionics, Hightower's restraint becomes her trademark, lending an elegance to these smartly arranged pop-soul interpretations. It's the four pre-album single sides that are a revelation, however: in particular, the energetic ‘Pretty Red Balloons’ is a lost classic with a killer chorus featuring a swooping string section in the classic bubblegum tradition, and her stormy break-beat cover of Eddie Floyd’s ‘Big Bird’ goes gritty and psychedelic in the manner of contemporaneous Temptations singles. Although the other LP, the self-titled ‘Rosetta Hightower’, was also well done and well sung, it was devoted to Motown covers, rather than to more distinctive material that might have helped her make a name for herself as a solo artist. ~ Stewart Mason, Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide.

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