Honey Cone

Take Me with You

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Freda Payne's "Band of Gold" provided Holland-Dozier-Holland with their first Top Three pop chart hit. With her Women's Love Rights album Laura Lee could be credited with drawing up the blueprint for a more outspoken stance in female soul. It was stablemates Honey Cone, however, who combined these features most uniquely in their career's signature song "Want Ads." A close relative to Lee's own "Wanted: Lover, No Experience Necessary," it resulted from the need the producers felt to remodel the trio after Take Me with You had failed to chart. Something was definitely at stake here, as Honey Cone's debut was the first proper album release for the recently installed Hot Wax, the same way their brilliant but marginally successful "While You're out Looking for Sugar" had been the imprint's first single. Whether or not Holland-Dozier-Holland had actually written the material themselves, legal issues with Berry Gordy didn't stop them from playing a major part in shaping the band's feisty, energetic and assured image. With Diana Ross about to embark on a solo career, the genuine Honey Cone creatively surpassed the rise of the Supremes Mach II beforehand. True, the similar sound of a consecutive single byMotown ("Girls It Ain't Easy") and this albums' title track might have fueled the suspicion of filling a temporary void. The inclusion of hippie anthem "Aquarius" hints at a different intention, considering the presence of some outstanding album tracks. Allowing for socially conscious topics to enter the lyrics, Honey Cone furiously attack the hypocrisy of churchgoers in "Sunday Morning People." Elsewhere, the priceless "Are You Man Enough, Are You Strong Enough?" addresses the dilemma of raising another man's child far more effectively than the Four Tops' "Barbara's Boy." Musically, these songs are closely related to the psychedelic soul Norman Whitfield used to wrap social issues with for the Temptations. Either for commercial or artistic reasons, nearly half of Take Me with You would be repeated for Honey Cone's follow-up album Sweet Replies. The socially engaged songs would feel more at home in the company of the forthright, vaguely feminist "Want Ads." Unfortunately, time would rapidly run out for Hot Wax and recognition only came indirectly through the 1990s emergence of En Vogue and Destiny's Child. As these independent women became widely known as "sisters doing it for themselves," flag-bearers Honey Cone were left to resign in the "where are they now" files.

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