Rare Earth

Grand Slam

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Rare Earth plays the Motown covers as they record on that label's Prodigal imprint. What made "Get Ready" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You" so brilliant was their total reinvention by a creative blue-eyed soul band rocking out. Seven to eight years after that success, the group is resorting to walking through versions of "I Wish It Would Rain" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" that sound as if they were recorded on a weekend while the band was performing at a wedding gig. The conclusion of "Grapevine" almost gets it, the fade showing sparks of creativity. This is, after all, the song that Gladys Knight pioneered, which Marvin Gaye sent through the roof, and which got what Rare Earth needed to give it from Creedence Clearwater. The late Jimmy Miller produced a tremendous Vanilla Fudge-like version with ex-members of Elephant's Memory in the early '80s, so the song still had some life; it just proves how pedestrian this once lively bunch of guys got by this point in time. The shift from the earthy machine-like rock band which turned soul tunes into radio-friendly '70s pop to a cover act attempting to be a true soul group is what is going on here. "Stop Her on Sight (S.O.S.)" is the group emulating the Four Tops doing "Ill Turn to Stone," or even the Isley Brothers' "This Old Heart of Mine," while "Mighty Good Love" cops the popular Philly sound with some of the group's earlier trademark riffs thrown in for good measure. "My Eyes Only" is a band trying to borrow the Spinners' vibe on "It's a Shame," while "When a Man Loves a Woman" is just a total embarrassment. John Ryan's production is actually quite sad. While the Four Tops would move on to ABC/Dunhill and Arista but stay true to their mission, Rare Earth takes themselves much too seriously here. The highlight is a Barry Gibb/Albhy Galuten tune, "Save Me, Save Me," which serves as a precursor to the hit later this same year, 1978, on the immediate follow-up, the Band Together album, with the Bee Gees-penned "Warm Ride," which barely bubbled over the Top 40. Nothing on here comes close to the fun of their first five hits. At least Merry Clayton, Venetta Fields, and their friends got some session fees.

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