Mind & Matter

1514 Oliver Avenue (Basement)

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Released by Numero prior to the more comprehensive various-artists package Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound, 1514 Oliver Avenue (Basement) documents 1977 home-recording sessions by Mind & Matter. Led by teenaged songwriter, arranger, and keyboardist James "Jimmy Jam" Harris -- just before he moved on to Flyte Tyme, and then the Time, and then the production of dozens of hits with partner Terry Lewis -- the band was fronted by a quartet of vocalists backed by seven instrumentalists, three of whom played keyboards. Heavily inspired by Philly soul -- not just artists on Philadelphia International, but vocal groups like Blue Magic as well -- the band rolls through an album's worth of material that is solid at best and charmingly raw and over-ambitious at worst. Harris' funky Clavinet is prominent, but the bountiful group harmonies are central, designed for wooing women on songs like "No One Can Do It to Me Baby," "My Love Is Like a Fire," and "When You're Touching Me." Somewhere between Harris' stated influences and keyboard-heavy low-budget soul made by, say, Ronnie McNeir and Patrick Adams, this is a delight for anyone with a serious interest in underground soul and Harris' incredible career. Jon Kirby's typically in-depth notes are printed on the back side of a gig-poster replication.

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