Finders Keepers/Where Is Your Woman Tonight

The Soul Children

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Finders Keepers/Where Is Your Woman Tonight Review

by Mark Deming

Memphis-based vocal group the Soul Children were just beginning to enjoy commercial success as their single "The Sweeter He Is" hit the Top 40 when bankruptcy put Stax Records out of business in 1974. Selbra Bennett, not confident about the group's future, soon left the Soul Children, but remaining members John Colbert (aka J. Blackfoot), Anita Louis, and Norman West bounced back as a trio and cut a pair of albums for Epic Records, both of which are included in full on this two-fer CD from RPM's Shout Records imprint. Disco and funk were the orders of the day in 1976 when Finders Keepers was recorded, and the passion and grit of Southern soul didn't always mesh well with the new dance-oriented R&B sounds, but the Soul Children managed to find a way to bring the two sides together harmoniously on their first Epic album. Cut in Detroit with producer Don Davis, Finders Keepers has been polished to a high gloss, but the songs are dominated by the themes of busted romance and forbidden love that have always been a central part of Southern soul, and Davis finds plenty of room for Colbert, Louis, and West to stretch out vocally and bring these tales of joy and pain to vivid life. (The title cut shows they knew how to work with a potent dance groove, too.) Released in 1977, Where Is Your Woman Tonight reunited the Soul Children with producer and songwriter David Porter, a key member of the Stax Records family, and while the album was still designed to fill the dancefloor, the grooves are dirtier, the slow numbers boast a bit more churchy power, and the Soul Children respond well to the more comfortable surroundings. With Porter, Bettye Crutcher, and Marvell Thomas all contributing to the songwriting, Where Is Your Woman Tonight was practically made to order for the Soul Children's vocal talents, and they're in excellent form here. The album also spawned the group's biggest hit single, and "Where Is Your Woman Tonight" was an excellent update of the Stax style, complete with a long spoken passage laying down the law on cheating. If these two albums are a bit smooth and late in the day for fans of classic Southern soul, the Soul Children prove they were one act who kept the style alive in their music no matter what their producers and arrangers surrounded them with, and this will be a boon to fans who have been searching for these long lost LPs. The remastering is good and Clive Richardson's liner notes are the work of a true fan; Shout is to be commended for going the extra mile and giving this release the care it deserves.

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