Rita Coolidge

The Lady's Not for Sale/Fall into Spring/It's Only Love

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It its usual elegant manner, Australia’s Raven Records presents three of Rita Coolidge's early recordings in a deluxe package with beautifully remastered sound. The three albums -- The Lady’s Not for Sale, Fall into Spring, and It’s Only Love (on two discs) -- were originally released in 1972, 1974, and 1975, respectively. None of them charted as high as her 1977 breakthrough album Anytime...Anywhere or 1978’s Love Me Again (issued by Raven in a previous two-fer in 2008). They are, arguably, better records artistically. They offer portraits of Coolidge displaying all of her many interpretive gifts as a singer and, more importantly, as a stylist. The Lady’s Not for Sale reached the Top 50 on the Billboard chart, and three singles were chosen: her amazingly brazen interpretation of the standard “Fever” and "Whiskey Whiskey" both made the pop chart, and “My Crew” hit the country Top 50. While “Fever” is the clear standout, there are two other tracks that deserve mention, her stellar, soulful reading of Leonard Cohen's “Bird on a Wire,” which evokes her gospel roots in a sleight-of-hand way, and Bob Dylan's “I’ll Be Your Baby, Tonight,” whose meaning is changed because of her deeper soul phrasing and delivery. The title track written by Kris Kristofferson is a defiant, emotive anthem. Fall into Spring contains amazing readings of “Love Has No Pride" (that’s less immediate but equally as powerful as Bonnie Raitt's version), Bobby Charles “Cowboys and Indians,” a burning reading of Guy Clark's “Desperados Waiting for the Train,” and a little-known but amazing version of Charlie Rich's “I Feel Like Goin’ Home,” that fearlessly brings out the full gospel expression in the tune, long before Rich recorded it himself. The final album in the set is the biggest surprise with the use of Rhodes pianos, and walks a perfect line between soft rock and country throughout. It was the least successful of these albums but nonetheless, like them, is utterly consistent and contains stellar tracks such as Robert E’ Morrison's “Born to Love Me,” “It’s Only Love, ” the funky blues of Kristofferson's “Late Again,” and the jazz standard "Mean to Me." The historical liner essay by Ian McFarlane is, as usual, authoritative and engagingly informative.

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