In 1970, Motown and its Gordy and Tamla subsidiaries issued a couple dozen albums, Psychedelic Shack, ABC, Diana Ross, and Signed, Sealed and Delivered among them. Shelved that year was Sunny and Warm, intended as the first solo LP credited to Blinky, an Oakland native who had signed to the parent label after performing and recording with Andraé Crouch's Cogics and cutting solo gospel material (under birth name Sondra Williams) for Vee-Jay and Atlantic. Movements toward Sunny and Warm began with the 1968 release of "I Wouldn't Change the Man He Is," written and produced by Ashford & Simpson. The ballad was effective in demonstrating the might and range of Blinky's church-bred voice -- more grit than glamour, closer to Martha Reeves than to Diana Ross -- but it was second-tier by Ashford & Simpson's standard, with lyrics that seemed excessively tolerant voiced by a singer who sounded anything other than meek. It did not chart. A duets album with Edwin Starr, Just We Two, fared no better the next year, presaging the cancellation of Sunny and Warm. Almost 50 years later, the entirety of that LP is presented for the first time on this two-disc compilation from the dutiful Real Gone Music. "This Man of Mine," a more suitable number written and produced by Clay McMurray, surfaced as a B-side in 1973 (scheduled to be on one of two other[!] abandoned Blinky LPs), and some other cuts, such as the most potent version of Jimmy Webb's sorrowful "This Time Last Summer," were included on volumes of Cellarful of Motown and The Complete Motown Singles. These and the previously unreleased recordings -- including a durable if unnecessary roll through Fontella Bass' Chess hit "Rescue Me," one of the slower and more belting takes of "For Once in My Life," and the charming "Is There a Place (In His Heart for Me)," subsequently waxed by the Supremes and Gladys Knight & the Pips -- amount to a decent full-length any smaller label would have been proud to circulate. The remainder of the first disc contains the rest of Blinky's 1972 and 1973 sides for Motown and MoWest and her contributions to Lady Sings the Blues and other contemporaneous Motown compilations. The second disc is filled to capacity with newly released, mostly rawer efforts with a little studio chatter. There's minimal overlap with the tracks heard on the two-part Motown Unreleased 1968. Motown fanatics should be delighted to hear Blinky renderings of material that went to the singer's various labelmates, interspersed with covers of songs written and/or popularized by the Yardbirds, Rolling Stones, Beatles, and James Taylor. No doubt a major undertaking, the set finally presents a clear picture of Blinky's underrepresented work from 1968-1973, just before she achieved musical immortality with the theme for Good Times.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2