While out at a book/record store I came across some oldie but goodies. A New Birth album, A Staples Singers album and Natalie Cole joint. Now I really went out my way to play the Natalie Cole album first because I had 45’s of most of the stuff on the other two albums. First off the cover is just strange. I remember thinking as a kid Natalie Cole was hot as hell, I thought that way about Pattie Labelle too, until I saw them way back in the 70’s. I swear either they both got better looking with age or the fad of having all that damn make- up on their faces went out of style and that let you see them, the real them. In any event I just thought she look a bit like Gilda Radner from SNL.
So I put the record on while doing what I do when I come home from being gone too long from home and having a mischievous dog, I cleaned up. I was thrown off how funky the first song starts, “Needing You” is on the borderline of funk and disco, but without the pulsating bass drum. I mean it starts out with a guitar lick like some black exploitation flick, which a few songs do on here, then it has a folksy funk vibe until the chorus comes in then is straddles a disco vibe. It’s cool for a first song I guess. “Joey” again the same little riff almost on some “Shaft” shit, I was expecting the baseline to come in and everything. But “Joey” is a sweet love song dedicated to who else but Joey, not sure who homie was but he can always say Natalie Cole sung a song about him. I mean it’s really funky I can’t lie I wanted to put the broom down and just ripping the song to start chopping samples. Then comes the two songs that I think are just the best songs on the album. One is the classic “Inseparable” From the way she sets off the song it reminds me of her farther the melody in the vocals sound like a throwback to those days but the soulful keys and strings bring to the 70’s. I mean if you took the music away and just listen to how she cruises vocally it goes back to those days of her farther Nat King Cole, Dino(Dean Martin), Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Then comes my new favorite song for now “I Can’t Say No”. This is just pure soul music. I mean I never thought Natalie Cole could get this soulful, It sound like something Aretha Franklin might have passed on for some reason. I mean from the background singers to the way she seems to tap into her own personal Aretha persona it makes it even more soulful. I played this song like six times after I listened to the last song on side A. That last song on side A is the title track “This Will Be” I always feel like I’m at church when I hear this song. Then I always smell fried bologna have visions of that movie The Women of Brewster Place. I only like the song once it gets to the end. It’s a bit too churchy to me.
Side B has a funky ass beginning with “Something For Nothing” I mean that song is just funky as hell from the way it starts off the bridge with the strings carrying the load of the song. I know a sample when I hear one and this song has a few in there. Next is another throw back type song. “I Love Him So Much” starts off like some B level Diana Ross song with talking and more so the accent and tone in her voice then the song starts and again vocal wise it reminds you of the kind of songs her father is famous for. Strings really carry this song and the Natalie floats over them beautifully. The song is honest in somewhat of a heartbreaking way just like “I can’t Say No”, you wonder if these were songs she ran with because of her at the time issues in her life. The next song is funky for no real reason I swear it comes in like the Chaka and Rufus joint “Tell Me Something Good” so much so I was waiting for the “ooh ugh “ grunts part. It’s not bad but it’s not good. I’m not a fan of this song so next. Ok I’m not sure what the hell happened but the next song sucks too (‘Your face Stays On My Mind” is the tile btw). Again next…Now “You” sounds jazzy as hell. Not sure what she is supposed to be doing before she starts singing but if that is her sexiest moans and groans she should sings how feels during whatever made her make those non attractive moans and groans. Once she starts singing thing pick up really quick. Yet again, another piano driven song that just comes off really soulful. The background singers and the band end it off with a soulful church vibe. Nice way to slow things down and end an album.
Not sure what people thought of this album back in the day and since I never heard “I Can’t Say No” on the radio at all EVER I can assume it’s one of the many lost gems in music history. Yes, as you can tell I love that one song. The album stood its ground in a funk tone the whole way through really. The slow songs in my opinion are beyond great they’re classic material really. If you’re a fan of Natalie Coles’ more recent work this will be a treat because you really get a since of her awareness of music and its’ history, because some melodies are so reminiscent of what the great of her fathers era did, maybe that was the point who knows? If you never really check for Natalie Coles this is something you need to get. I say get this album the more funk driven songs are a bit dated but the slow songs come away timeless. Let me switch that a bit, the more up-tempo funk stuff is a bit dated but it does still knock, some songs not all. I’m not sure you can find a flawless copy of the album for 3 bucks like I did but you can check it out on Youtube, amazon, Ilike or somewhere for free and see what I mean. This Will Be is a great ass album.