Just We Two

Blinky / Edwin Starr

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Just We Two Review

by Lindsay Planer

After establishing himself with the Top Ten soul and pop hit "25 Miles," Edwin Starr teamed up with another burgeoning talent named Blinky (aka Sandra Williams) for a one-off album of duets. The lucrative pairing of vocalists had become something of a hallmark for musicians under the Motown umbrella. While the results may not be on par with that of Marvin Gaye's consistently remarkable work with the likes of Mary Wells, Kim Weston, and Tammi Terrell, a sufficient number of excellent cuts can be heard on 1969's Just We Two. Prior to connecting with Motown, Starr had been signed to the small Ric-Tic imprint -- which was eventually bought out by Berry Gordy -- but not before the artist turned in the sizable "Agent Double-O-Soul" in 1965. Blinky was likewise a new recruit and had been with Motown for under a year, scoring attention with her debut single, "I Wouldn't Change the Man He Is" in 1968. Although the laid-back opener, "You've Made Me So Very Happy," is best remembered for Blood, Sweat & Tears' Top Five reading, it is Motown labelmate Brenda Holloway whose original informs this take, augmented by some cohesive bass from James Jamerson and a soaring Philly soul string score. The frolicking "Oh How Happy" is credited to Starr's real name, Charles Hatcher, making it the sole original composition on the album. The song has a strong gospel feel, undoubtedly aided by Blinky's formative years of singing in her father's church. "I'm Glad You Belong to Me" also stands out for its brooding and funky arrangement as Starr commences with a soul-stirring holler. "We'll Find a Way" is another highlight and an homage to Jimi Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watchtower," as the intro lays down the same scintillating rhythm before Starr and Blinky melt the groove with some of the effort's most inspired banter thus far. "I See a Rainbow" has a bit of Southern soul with a Memphis-style horn section offsetting the pulsating backbeat. Less successful is the remake of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Ooo Baby Baby," ranging from the antiquated sitar to a few seemingly forced exchanges between the two co-leads. In 2004, Just We Two was issued on CD in a limited edition by the Internet-based Hip-O Select label.

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