Side Effect

What You Need

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Side Effect reached its creative peak with the Wayne Henderson-produced What You Need, which was the group's second album as well as its best one. This time, the songs weren't simply decent -- they were excellent, and Side Effect had a gem of a female vocalist to help bring them to life. The quartet's new female singer was Helen Lowe, who had replaced Sylvia Nabors. While Nabors was competent, the brassy, big-voiced Lowe was a treasure -- and she shows herself to be major asset on the hit "S.O.S." and a remake of Ronnie Laws' "Always There," which was originally a soul-jazz instrumental in 1975 but becomes a gutsy vocal tune thanks to added lyrics by Paul Allen. Equally strong are the funky "Honky Tonk Scat," the mournful ballad "Changes," and a cover of the Crusaders' "Keep That Same Old Feeling." Regrettably, What You Need was Lowe's only album with Side Effect, and it's equally regrettable that she didn't go on to become huge as a solo artist.