Nancy Wilson – This Mother’s Daughter – Capitol Records/ Pure Pleasure Records PPAN ST11518 – 180 gram Stereo LP (1976) [6/26/13] ****:
(Nancy Wilson, vocals; Dave Grusin, George Duke – piano, Fender Rhodes; George Duke – Moog; Hugh McCracken, Jeff Miranoy – guitars; Chuck Rainey – bass; Steve Gadd – drums; Oliver Brown – percussion; Blue Mitchell – Flugelhorn)
During her prime recording career in the 1960s and 1970s, Nancy Wilson was one of the most prolific jazz vocalists on Capitol Records, releasing more than twenty-five albums. Her voice blended sophistication along with a sassiness, whether it was singing pop songs of the era or blending jazz with a funk edge. From the latter style came This Mother’s Daughter in 1976. Produced by Eugene McDaniels, and arranged by Hugh McCracken, Dave Grusin and George Duke, the album was recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles. The backing musicians were first call sidemen from LA, so from the get-go, this recording was given a strong jump start.
Pure Pleasure Records, from England, as part of their 180 gram limited edition audiophile re-issue program, has had the esteemed Blue Note engineer, Ron McMaster, remaster the original recording at Capitol Studios. The result is Nancy at her finest on vinyl, singing a mix of contemporary soul with strings and horns.
“From You to Me to You” opens Side 1 with a swirling mix of strings and background vocals surrounding Ms. Wilson as she soars above the mix. Chuck Rainey’s electric bass is unmistakable as his round bottom end keeps the funk quotient high. “Love Has Smiled on Us” is a pretty ballad with the vocal taking center stage with a minimum of strings and background vocals. Piano is the primary instrument backing Nancy as she emotes sweetly. “I Don’t Want a Sometimes Man” has a Motown feel only belied by the strings that Berry Gordy would have left out if he had Diana Ross do this number.
“Tree of Life” is a step up in lyrics with a hopeful theme. Written by producer McDaniels, it was covered as well by Aretha Franklin. A gospel choir adds class and emotion. George Duke’s Moog synthesizer adds spacey effects to “Now” while Steve Gadd makes his presence felt on drums. The title track follows as Wilson preaches to the next generation of women including her daughter, born on July 4, 1975. The theme is helping to prepare our children for the future.
“He Never Had It So Good” brings us back to the eternal man/woman struggle. “When We Were One” has some funky guitar, and a feel that would have been appropriate for a movie theme, complete with some extravagant strings and horns arranged by Dave Grusin and Hugh McCracken. “Stay Tuned” ends our 1970s visit with Nancy Wilson, as its bluesy romp is aided by Blue Mitchell’s righteous Flugelhorn solo. It is perhaps the most straight-ahead jazz tune on the album.
For fans of Ms. Wilson who want to hear her in her prime, backed by a potent crew of musicians, with strings, background vocals, and occasional horns to sweeten the mix—all in audiophile splendor—then this album fits the bill well.
Side 1: From You To Me To You, Love Has Smiled On Us, I Don’t Want a Sometimes Man, Tree of Life, China
Side 2: Now, This Mother’s Daughter, He Never Had It So Good, When We Were One, Stay Tuned