New Birth

Blind Baby

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Relaunching themselves as New Birth, dropping "The" from their name following a break with their manager, and subsequently transitioning to a new label, the band rebounded with the first of two LPs cut for Buddah in 1975. Hoping to revitalize themselves with the ascendant Nite-Liters contingent coming back to the front of the group, joining new members Ben Boxtel, Roger Voice, and James Hall, the revamp proved right on the mark as the first single from Blind Baby, "Dream Merchant," gave New Birth their first and only number one R&B hit that summer. With sweet melody and subtle arrangements, "Dream Merchant" informs this album, setting the bar that the band would use in crafting a set that remains sleepy and dreamy throughout, with only a couple of exceptions. Both the title track and the closing "Epilogue" utilized sexy spoken word over quiet melody, while "Forever" emerges as another well-constructed ballad. But, as comfortable as New Birth are across these tracks, so are they across more traditional funk numbers, most notably the off-kilter "Blind Man" and brass-heavy "Granddaddy." Blind Baby ultimately marked the end of an era for all prior incarnations of New Birth. "Dream Merchant" marked the pinnacle of their achievement and became the trail marker for their descent. Although the band would continue to record for nearly a half decade more, they wouldn't come so close, or sound so good again.

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