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Doris Duke: Legend in Her Own Time

Album Notes

Doris Duke is said to have had a combative business relationship with Jerry Williams (aka Swamp Dogg), who was her producer and manager for a few years in the late '60s and early '70s, but there's no arguing that they worked beautifully together in the studio, and her second album with Williams at the controls, A Legend in Her Own Time, is an overlooked triumph of deep Southern soul. "If She's Your Wife (Who Am I)" is a more than worthy companion piece to her hit "To the Other Woman," with Duke's rich, passionate vocal bringing the tale of star-crossed love to vivid life, and while Duke was far from the first person to record "Since I Fell for You," "Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You," or "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," she makes each of these chestnuts her own with performances that are thoughtful and fully committed. Williams created superb musical backdrops for Duke's vocals on this album, dominated by a tight, forceful rhythm section, superb horn arrangements, and a dollop of tastefully executed strings when they're needed, and he wrote several of the better songs on this set, including "I'd Do It All Over You" and "If She's Your Wife." Soul mavens regard Duke's first collaboration with Swamp Dogg, I'm a Loser, as her masterpiece, but if this album isn't quite as strong, A Legend in Her Own Time is still a powerful and deeply rewarding work from a neglected heroine of R&B, and on the basis of these songs Duke more than lives up to the titular billing. ~ Mark Deming


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