The Blackbyrds

LoveByrds: Soft & Easy

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Released at the same time as Happy Music: The Best of the Blackbyrds, LoveByrds: Soft & Easy takes an alternate route through the Blackbyrds' discography, stepping away from the clubs and picnics and into dimly lit dining and living rooms. Though the disc does have the makings of an alternate Blackbyrds history, it does contain a couple upbeat numbers and chart hits, such as "Life Styles," "Time Is Movin'" (which reached number 15 on the Black Singles chart in 1977), and "Soft and Easy" (which hit number 20 the following year). A significant percentage of the material qualifies as easy listening soul and proto-smooth jazz, and though it's certainly mood music, it's highly developed mood music that is too dynamic and engaging merely to fade into the background. An extra piece or two from their soundtrack to Cornbread, Earl and Me (like "Mother/Son Talk") would have been a nice touch, but this set puts a unique spin on the Blackbyrds' history that is far more than adequate.

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