Donnie Elbert

R&B Maverick

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"Maverick" isn't a word often used to describe the ineffably sweet master falsetto Donnie Elbert, but his records certainly belonged to a category of artist rarely found, even in soul circles. The Sequel disc R&B Maverick collects over two dozen of Elbert's '70s sides for the All Platinum label, with which he hit the R&B charts fairly regularly from 1970 to 1977. Elbert's two big hits, both of which reached the pop Top 40, were covers of Motown chestnuts; the first a strolling version of the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go," and the second a driving mid-tempo run through the Four Tops' "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)." (Unfortunately, though, "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" was recorded during a brief interlude at Avco and isn't available here). Elbert was hardly an oldies act, even during the '70s; he wrote much of his own material, and the tracks on R&B Maverick rank among his best: "Can't Get Over Losing You," his moderate hit from 1970, plus "If I Can't Have You," and "Will You Ever Be Mine." Two discs of Donnie Elbert may be too much for the casual listener, but Sequel also bulked up what would've been a short two-disc program with three interesting additions: Lonnie Youngblood's "Reaching for a Dream," Shirley and Company's "Cry Cry Cry," and "Mr. Peanut Goes to Washington," an amusing update of the hilarious '50s chestnut "Peanut" delivered by the original's lead vocalist, Little Joe Cook.

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