Lena Horne

Soul

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The use of the title Soul, which, the liner notes pointed out, had "recently become one of the most frequently-used nouns and adjectives in the world of popular music," suggested that Lena Horne might be belting out emotionally in the Motown style of the Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas on her third United Artists Records LP. That wasn't the case, of course, but the title did mean to alert potential customers that Horne would be tackling contemporary material in contemporary arrangements. With Ray Ellis at the podium and a 48-year-old singer steeped in Hollywood and nightclub traditions at the microphone, however, things could only get so trendy. Nevertheless, Horne dutifully tried on newly written material such as "Wonder What I'm Gonna Do," which put her in Dionne Warwick/Dusty Springfield territory, and "Love Bug," a peppy Don Covay-written attempt at the pop and R&B charts (both songs were issued on a single that had no commercial impact). And she cut such 1965 hits as "What the World Needs Now Is Love," "Unchained Melody," and "A Taste of Honey" in her own style. Perhaps most curiously to future ears, she led things off with Ellis and Al Stillman's "I Got a Worried Man," an adaptation of the folk song "A Worried Man" with a riff that sounded a lot like the theme from the TV series Hawaii Five-O -- except that Mort Stevens' theme music wouldn't have its first broadcast for another two years! Though Horne handled all this material with her usual fervor, much of it was not suited to her and none of it really had much hope of making a commercial impact. After a Christmas collection closed out her United Artists contract later in 1966, she didn't record again for three years.

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