added: 1 Mar 2013
// release date: 11 Mar 2013 // label: Angel Air Records
reviewer: Claudia A
Remember Phillysound? Then you remember The Three Degrees
(and who could forget their appearance in cult thriller ‘The French Connection’?). The late Fayette Pinkney
made up one part of the trio, and ‘One Degree’ is her solo effort, originally released in 1979.
When Fayette Pinkney had decided to leave The Three Degrees in 1976, she returned to pursue full-time education and other roles outside the music industry (usually a wise move…). However, three years later a new record label, Chopper Records (funded by Alan Bristow
, founder of Bristow Helicopters), got wind that Fayette was looking for a new deal. The label snatched her from under the noses of EMI, who likewise were interested in securing her services. Alan’s friend, Geoff Morrow, already was a fan of The Three Degrees. So when he heard that Fayette was keen on getting back into showbiz, he flew to the States to persuade her to sign with Chopper. One of her requests was that the label should demonstrate she was a serious artist and consequently release an album straight away, without any single releases first. In a way, it proved to be her undoing. Although the album was acclaimed by music press and Three Degrees fans alike, Fayette was not able to be in the UK to promote the album. Without any pre-singles hype either, it didn’t do well enough commercially to consider a second album.
Once again, Fayette Pinkney returned to work in other sectors, in particular civic roles such as counsellor, and occasional vocal coach. She also sang with the church group The Intermezzo Choir Ministry. Sadly, she passed away in 2009 after a sudden illness, aged only 61.
The majority of songs were written by Chris Arnold
and Geoff Morrow
, while co-producer of the album was legendary band leader and arranger Keith Mansfield
(he was responsible for the hit arrangements on songs like ‘Everlasting Love’ by Steve Ellis
As you might expect, nothing overtly dramatic or hip-gyrating groovy is to be found amongst the album’s ten tracks. Not a lot of R&B influences either. It’s all very soul orientated, with some disco beats running through and plenty of horn arrangements.
‘Light In The Window’ has a smooth and danceable beat to it, the light here being Fayette’s impeccable voice.
‘Tearaway’ is brilliant on the lyrics front, almost tongue-in-cheek lines reveal of Fayette’s unruly childhood and adolescence (fictional or not): “When I was a little girl my mum said to me ‘Why can’t you be more content like little girls should be?’ / When I was a teen I started breaking every rule / I was useless in the house and impossible in school…”
One can’t help but loving it!
A great mellower is ‘Sympathy’ with its gospel and soul tinges - it’s one of those compositions you’d imagine Whitney Houston would have turned into charts gold. Fayette does it brilliantly mind you.
‘Give Me The Love’ is Three Degrees performed solo, while the short and soulful ballad ‘The Other Side Of Me’ melts like chocolate. No horns or such like, only Fayette’s voice and keyboards at the forefront.
Slightly more disco-orientated is ‘Half A Love’ – nothing spectacular here, and although well performed it never drifts away from its ‘middle of the road’ composition.
‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ has West End musical potential (no, I didn’t say Lloyd Webber). It’s a love song in case you haven’t guessed it yet. A little to soppy for my liking, and the lyrics match the mood… but what a voice! ‘Mind What You’re Doing To My Heart’ remains firmly in the same realm, though the overall arrangement is more upbeat and disco-soul.
Final tracks ‘Show Me The Way’ once again sees La Pinkney back in playful Philly-sound mood, but it’s ‘Mine Is Not To Reason Why’ that closes the album in wonderful chill-out mode. Nothing is overblown here, and horn arrangements kept to minimal.
All of the songs are rather short I should perhaps warn you; nonetheless, this is a fantastic re-release of a rare album, and a must for fans of that genre.
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