I basically only know Gladys Knight & the Pips from “Midnight Train to Georgia.” I assume it was their biggest hit. But it turns out I’ve also heard the second track, “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination.” Hence the first two tracks make this album almost feel like a Best Of, because it contains the only two songs of theirs I’ve ever heard.
Weirdly most of the songs are written by Jim Weatherly, a country songwriter, who I assume was discovered by this group through “Midnight Train to Georgia.” I know that many soul labels had in-house songwriting teams, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of this kind of genre cross pollination, where the pseudo in-house songwriter was a recording artist in a different genre. The rest of the album is fleshed out by songs by major songwriters and one original. The song selection is pretty strong and I think I might prefer their cover of “I Can See Clearly Now” to the original.
This is polished soul and this level of polish – not quite Philly Soul or Marvin Gaye slick, but far from gritty Southern Soul – is not normally my thing. But Gladys Knight is such a great singer, and the Pips are so good too, that it overcomes any illwill I have towards the lush, note-perfect arrangements.
Pretty good stuff and highly recommended if you’re a soul fan.
All tracks written by Jim Weatherly, except where noted.
- “Midnight Train to Georgia” 4:38
- “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” Gerry Goffin, Barry Goldberg 3:29
- “Storms of Troubled Times” 3:44
- “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” 3:45
- “Once in a Lifetime Thing” 3:41
- “Where Peaceful Waters Flow” 4:24
- “I Can See Clearly Now” Johnny Nash 4:28
- “Perfect Love” Paul Williams 2:37
- “Window Raisin’ Granny” William Guest, Gladys Knight, Merald Knight, Edward Patten 6:09
- Gladys Knight: vocals, co-producer
- Merald “Bubba” Knight, Jr.: backing vocals, co-producer
- Edward Patten: backing vocals, co-producer
- William Guest: backing vocals, co-producer