Sandra Rhodes

Where's Your Love Been

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Sandra Rhodes was a country girl who landed in Memphis rather than Nashville, which means she ended up singing a lot more than just country music. Rhodes, along with her sister Donna Rhodes and husband Charlie Chalmers, did session work with some of the biggest names in both soul and country music, from Conway Twitty to Al Green, and as a singer and songwriter she walked a tightrope between the two sides of Southern music through the '60s and '70s (which were never as different as people liked to believe). Rhodes' love of both country and soul is evident on her first and only solo album to date, 1973's Where's Your Love Been, which was cut at the Sam Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis; while this music is clearly informed by country music, with pedal steel guitar, lonesome harmonicas, and massed vocal choruses playing into the arrangements, there's a deeply soulful note in Rhodes' vocals and melodies that suggests the average C&W radio station wasn't going to play this stuff, no matter how much "No Such Thing as Love" and "No One Else Could Love You More" sound like great country singles. And when Rhodes felt like showing off her soulful side, she did it right; "The Best Thing You Ever Had" and the title track cut a top-notch groove, suggesting classic Hi Records sides, and the gospel feel that permeates "Never Grow Old" is clearly not of the bluegrass variety. If Rhodes didn't easily fall into a generic category, this record sounds like Memphis through and through, with its easy fusion of styles and potent yet comfortable grooves delivered by a crack session band. Where's Your Love Been isn't quite a lost classic, but it shows Sandra Rhodes was a gifted vocalist who could have had a great solo career with better breaks and a more supportive label, and it's a pure product of a city where soul comes as easily as breathing. [In 2014, Omnivore Records gave Where's Your Love Been an expanded and remastered reissue, with seven excellent outtakes from the original sessions included as bonus tracks, and fine liner notes from Bill Dahl. Fans of country-soul will clearly enjoy this set, and it's a splendid tribute to an overlooked talent.]

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