It’s ironic this album is seen as one of Chaka Khan’s more jazzy albums as it is way, way funkier than most artists could ever hope to be.
This is the latest in a long line of fantastic reissues by BBR of lost soul /funk classics, and this is an album that really stands the test of time – not just because Khan has such a sensational voice but producer Arif Mardin is also at the top of his game.
Kham opens with a funked up version of We Can Work It Out, which is how the Beatles might have sounded if they were born in Detroit rather than Liverpool. Great fun, but feels a bit pointless.
The title track really sets the tone as Khan’s band of smoking hot superstar players lay down a punchy groove and she really, really lets rip, so let’s have less of this is a jazz album nonsense. Not surprisingly this track was a number one hit on the R and B chart.
That said lord knows how the upbeat I Know You, I Live You didn’t chart as it is a mini masterpiece, but it was a hit in what in those days were still known as discotheques. As a truly great vocalist Khan can take it up and down and Any Old Sunday is a lovely downbeat ballad.
People tend to forget Khan was also a gifted songwriter and her adaption of Dizzy Gillespie’s classic Night in Tunisia as And the Melody Lingers On is really well judged avoiding being too mawkish. Instead it is a genuinely moving tribute to the jazz pioneers that paved the way for Khan, featuring a synth solo from Herbie Hancock, and a Charlie Parker sax solo lifted from his own 1946 version of the song.
You may also recognise the instrumental solo in Fate, which closes the album, as it was sampled in Stardust’s smash dance hit Music Sounds Better With You.
If you want a measure of how good this forgotten classic is then check out extra tracks Lover’s Touch and Only Once which ended up as B-sides. Most bands would release those tracks as A-sides which is measure of just how on it Khan, Mardin and the band were at this time. Essential listening for all soul fans.