Saturday, May 20, 2017

Music Reviews: Smith Connection - I've Been A Winner

(I've Been A Winner, I've Been A Loser) I've Been In Love
Smith Connection
I was listening to the Invictus box set again and ran across this song which for whatever reason I hadn't paid attention to before. It's funny how that works. You can have something for years and discover new treasures. The Smith Connection was made up of a trio of brothers who hailed from St. Louis, not Detroit. But it's a good thing that they came to the attention of the Detroit based Invictus label owned by famed producers/songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland (HDH). In the early seventies H-D-H were doing their best to compete with their former employer Berry Gordy and his iconic company Motown. This song was very similar to contemporaneous work coming from Philadelphia groups like the Delfonics or Chicago groups like the Chi-lites. But the deep bass and scratch guitar mark it indelibly as a Detroit based production. I like the voices and harmony, which are very masculine albeit in the higher range. The song is not blues, but it is bluesy. There's no guitar or horn solo. All the focus is on the vocals. Michael Smith, who I believe is the lead singer here, later went on to modest acclaim as a songwriter, producer and solo artist with Motown. The plaintive lyrics express sadness, love, maturity, regret and hope all at the same time, which I think is a pretty neat trick. I also enjoy that there's a lot of space in the recording. No one instrument dominates. Nothing is too loud. There's something to be said for the old maxim of keep it simple, stupid.


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