Gladys Knight & the Pips

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Imagination Review

by Bruce Eder

The first album cut by Gladys Knight & the Pips for Buddah Records was a watershed in their history. Co-produced by the group and Tony Camillo, Imagination embodied all of what Gladys Knight & the Pips had learned in their previous six years at Motown, watching the way their records were made, combined with the maturity of the sound that they'd achieved in that time, and virtually complete freedom to choose their repertory -- a factor that they were mature and sophisticated to exploit to the fullest. The result was four hit songs, including the chart-topping "Midnight Train to Georgia" (originally written as "Midnight Plane to Houston") and one of the biggest selling albums in their history -- Imagination was sophisticated soul at its best, Knight belting out numbers with great forcefulness and passion while the group provided delicate backup. Among the surprising non-hits is the radiantly sung "Perfect Love" and a beautiful harmonized cover of "I Can See Clearly Now," featuring the Pips singing lead. Reissued on CD by BMG Special Products in 1997 with full annotation, and worth tracking down in any format.

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