We're approaching a new millennium and Gladys Knight still remains a hot diva in the realms of Rhythm & Blues. Almost 33 years have passed since her first hit, her own rendition of, "I Heard It Through The Grapevine." Today she still shares her passionate gift with thousands by continuing to churn out her sultry, Motown, rhythm and blues, in the reissued movie soundtrack, and first release on Compact Disc, "Claudine."
In 1974 two kinds of magic merged into one production. Curtis Mayfield, a prolific songwriter and mastermind for the movie soundtrack, "Superfly," as well as the legendary Diva of Soul, Gladys Knight & The Pips, assimilated their talent, creativity, and muses to originate the musical element required for this 20th Century Fox movie.
This dramatic film spotlighted Diahann Carroll (who was nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Actress") and the very gifted James Earl Jones. It was directed by John Berry, and tells a black love story with a rudimentary statement about the importance of family and unity.
Claudine is an unwed mother of six, surviving in the trenches of Harlem. In order to sustain, she finds herself forced to work secretly as a housemaid, because the amount of welfare she receives will not suffice the needs of her large family. However, the income from working is not enough, and forces her to fool the welfare system in order to make ends meet. James Earl Jones plays the role of Claudine's garbage collector, and falls madly in love with her. However, he bails when the relationship gets too serious for him. Claudine's six children end the story with a "happily ever after", by pursuing Jones, confronting him, and then persuading him to return to their mother.
Gladys Knight has been recording top hits for most of her music career. Talented hits such as, "Every Beat Of My Heart," "Letter Full Of Tears," "Giving Up," "Friendship Train," and "If I Were Your Woman." She reached the top of the charts with "Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)." As well as achieved more than three consecutive gold singles with Buddha records. R&B hits such as; "Midnight Train To Georgia," "I've Got To Use My Imagination," and "The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me."
This reissue of the soundtrack on CD was produced by Tom Cartwright, and features soul dripping melodies such as, "Mr. Welfare Man." A determined, soulful aria and one of my favorites on this soundtrack. Also on this CD is, "On and On," which became number two on the R&B charts, and number five on the hot 100's chart, the summer of 1974. I enjoyed track number five as well, "Claudine Theme." It delivers a soul stimulating instrumental, which soothes with a cadence of jazzy blues. Gladys wraps up this soundtrack with her steamy vocal chords belting out the high energy ballad, "Make Yours A Happy Home."
It was a highlight for me to review this CD, and I would recommend it to those who love Gladys Knight & The Pips, or good for the soul rhythm and blues. If you want to order this CD, you can purchase it at Amazon.com, or visit David Nathan's web site (AKA: "British Ambassador Of Soul") at www.davidnathan.com. He is the author of "The Soulful Divas," and his web site will direct you to where you can purchase the Gladys Knight & The Pips soundtrack of "Claudine."
This review is copyright © 1999 by Mia Jennings, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.