Gladys Knight & the Pips

Midnight Train to Georgia: The Best of Gladys Knight and the Pips

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While the folks at Music Club do a relatively fine job in terms of their presentation and sound on their budget-priced compilations, they can sometimes be a bit boastful to the consumer who trusts record companies to simply offer what they say they do on the cover. This is a case in point here. First off, there isn't really a weak spot on either of these two discs; Gladys Knight can sing the street signs on the highway and it will still be drenched in soul, elegance, and emotional truth. Period. All of the music here is solid, beautifully performed. That said, there are so many things missing the truth needs to be told: these are Gladys Knight's finest moments after leaving Motown for Buddha in 1973. None of the Motown recordings are here. This set starts with 1973's Imagination album with the hit "Midnight Train to Georgia" -- meaning that the heavy-duty "Neither One of Us" from her final Motown recording of the same name is not here; neither is her stellar version of Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through the Grapevine" or nearly a dozen other Motown singles. OK, that's taken care of, but let's get to what is here: the music included is incredible proof that Knight was able -- unlike so many of her peers -- to sit right in the heart of the disco era and remain thoroughly herself. Check her reading of Nick Ashford's and Valerie Simpson's "I Will Fight" and "Taste of Bitter Love," or Larry Henley's "Hero (Wind Beneath My Wings)," or the hard funky soul of Eugene McDaniel's "Money," Curtis Mayfield's "Make Yours a Happy Song," or the last thing here, Bunny Sigler's stirring ballad "Till I See You Again." Every bit of it is killer, so deeply moving it's a wonder that she's not on the charts in the 21st century. This is worth the modest price tag for its sheer quality in presentation and sound. You can always snag a single-disc Motown compilation and complete the singles collection. If you are at all taken with Gladys Knight, this is a stellar purchase.

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