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Rotary Connection: Songs

Album Notes

The daring covers returned for Songs. In fact, the record is nothing but covers, including drastic re-castings of three songs from Cream's Disraeli Gears. So the creative well was surely drying up for Rotary Connection, right? Wrong. Despite the complete absence of original material, this is a proper Rotary Connection album as much as any other. Their version of Otis Redding's "Respect," like many of their covers, is rendered nearly unrecognizable; slowed to a crawl and stripped of its punctuative chorus of "R-E-S-P-E-C-T/I know what it means to me," Charles Stepney's string arrangement is a subdued but effective smear and Minnie Riperton and Sidney Barnes trade lines, emote in tandem, and twist around each other like they've never done before or since. The song has never sounded more steamy. The slightly eerie tone of the strings that encased "Respect" pop up again for "We're Going Wrong," one of the three Cream covers. The foreboding feel is carried forth with wordless co-ed background vocals that combine with escalating strings. But what really puts a cap on it is the moment when Riperton's voice shoots into a pitch that no theremin can approximate. It's moments like this one that make wading through the group's lapses (a dull, bungled look at "I've Got My Mojo Working," for instance) so worth it. As for those who view the group as blasphemers? Let them cringe. ~ Andy Kellman



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