Ecstasy, Passion & Pain

Ecstasy, Passion & Pain

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Ecstasy, Passion & Pain is a more fitting description of lead singer Barbara Roy's voice than the group as a whole. Roy's tough, gritty vocals might seem better suited to the earthy recordings of labels such as Stax or Hi, but she fits right in with Bobby Martin's Philly soul settings on the R&B hits "Ask Me," "I Wouldn't Give You Up," and "Good Things Don't Last Forever," the last of which was co-written by Bunny Sigler and Norman Harris. The input of such Philly soul veterans elevates the best of Roy's compositions to the level of second-tier Gamble & Huff imitations, although those legendary producers never worked with a talent like Roy when they applied their Midas touch to female groups like the Three Degrees and the Jones Girls. Unfortunately, Martin's orchestrated impersonations are not as successful on the group's ballads, partly because Roy's commanding presence is less effective on slower, more restrained material. Ironically, the most enjoyable song, the swirling "I'll Do Anything for You," was relegated to the B-side of a later single, although it could easily become a hit for any shrewd girl group who rediscovers it. The CD reissue includes the group's later singles "One Beautiful Day" and "Touch and Go," thus helping to counter the inconsistency of the original debut release. Despite admirable contributions from other group members and outside sources, Roy is definitely the main reason to check out Ecstasy, Passion & Pain, which remains the best documentation of her abilities as a singer and songwriter.

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