The Manhattans

There's No Me Without You/That's How Much I Love

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Combining the Manhattans' first two Columbia albums onto one CD, this disc documents the group's transition to a very Philadelphia-influenced brand of sweet harmony soul, albeit with a bit of funk (and some anachronistic earlier sides from their DeLuxe years thrown in to fill out That's How Much I Love You). There's No Me Without You, their first album to be recorded with new lead singer Gerald Alston, was keynoted by the title track, a number three R&B smash ballad. Like the whole LP, it was very much in the lush Philadelphia style, cut in the city of brotherly love with Bobby Martin and Teddy Randazzo splitting the production and arranging. It's mid-level Philly soul, well done but not as groundbreaking as the best classic recordings in the style. Sometimes, in fact, it's rather derivative, not only of other Philly vocal groups, but also (on "Soul Train") of the Temptations in their funk period. In contrast, That's How Much I Love You was a somewhat poorly conceived affair, combining one LP side of new recordings and a second LP side comprised wholly of released and unissued tracks they'd cut for DeLuxe before signing with Columbia. As those Deluxe tracks were several years old (some perhaps having been recorded even four or five years earlier), the record spanned too wide of a time frame to qualify as a wholly new (or wholly realized) effort. Certainly it's not as consistent, either in style or quality, as their debut. It was decent (though not brilliant) period early- to mid-'70s soul, however, including the Top Ten R&B (and pop Top Forty) hit "Don't Take Your Love," as well as the much smaller chart single "Summertime in the City." The latter song was certainly again reminiscent of the early-'70s Temptations' funk, while the former was very much a lush Philly soul-style ballad. The Philly soul path, in both its ballad and funk modes, was also followed by some other of the "new" tracks, such as "Save Our Goodbyes" and the title song. While the older selections on side two have a less Philly-fied vibe, really they don't sound that out of place; "Blackbird" is much in line with the O'Jays' early-'70s recordings and both "Strange Old World" and "Nursery Rhymes" yet again recall the funked-out Temptations, though the covers of "Fever" and "A Change Is Gonna Come" were a little more old-school.

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