CANDI STATON: CANDI (1974)
1) Here I Am Again; 2) Your Opening Night; 3) A Little Taste Of Love; 4) Going Through The Motions; 5) Stop And Smell The Roses; 6) We Can Work It Out; 7) As Long As He Takes Care Of Home; 8) But I Do; 9) Can't Stop Being Your Fool; 10) Clean Up America; 11) Six Nights And A Day.
For this album, Staton switched to Warner Bros., yet the recording sessions were still held at Muscle Shoals, so, technically, very little has changed, except for a divorce with Carter, meaning that the man was also removed from her professional life as well. (She did not repeat the mistake of mixing personal and professional, but allegedly she did marry an even bigger bastard in 1974, a promoter by the name of Jimmy James, who would torture her for about three years). Substantially, though, Candi continues a gradual slide into the realms of smooth soulful pleasantness, where everything sounds just about equally neat, tasteful, and interchangeable.
The only in-yer-face standout on the album is ʽClean Up Americaʼ, a lone statement of demand for social justice that is so thoroughly ambiguous in its demands, I'm frankly surprised why it forgot to be used in Trump's presidential campaign ("we gotta pitch in, and clean up America!" just sounds like such a perfectly Trump-ready slogan, and delivered by a black woman, no less) — sure it's a far less familiar song than ʽYou Can't Always Get What You Wantʼ or ʽRockin' In The Free Worldʼ, but with such a passionate, anthemic hook it would have caught on in no time. In the context of Candi, however, its major problem is that it stands alone — and gives the impression of a last minute addition, to inject some social value, because Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder are doing it and if you, a female Afro-American performer, are not doing it, then you are compromising The Cause. Please be reasonable about it and observe the correct quotas, though. You are expected to deliver 1 song about social injustice and 11 songs about personal relationships — that's the expected female quota.
Speaking of personal relationships, I find it funny that (a) there is a song here called ʽWe Can Work It Outʼ, a lush piano ballad with string and brass support that has nothing to do with the Beatles' song of the same name; (b) the very next song, ʽAs Long As He Takes Care Of Homeʼ, is driven by a looping riff that is very similar, though not exactly coinciding, with the riff of ʽDay Tripperʼ — which, as we know, was the B-side to the original ʽWe Can Work It Outʼ! Coincidence, or a subtle joke on the part of the producers, with no deep meaning behind it whatsoever? Oh well, at least this gives us something to write about, because other than that, Candi stimulates no individualistic emotional reaction whatsoever. A few decent ballads, a few soft funk-rockers, well played and convincingly sung, but nothing new, and for each song you can find a sharper equivalent elsewhere.
For instance, ʽSix Nights And A Dayʼ, lifts the funky riff directly from ʽSuperstitionʼ, but the song does not even begin to approach the tension level achieved by little Stevie — remember, kids, it's not all about just the melody, it's largely about killer performance, and here, I am sorry to say, the musicians rallied behind Candi consistently let her down even when compared to the raw-gritty sound of her first record, let alone contemporary standards of some of the bigger names in the R&B industry. But on the positive side, there are some energetic numbers with cool syncopated guitars and brawny brass — which is a good thing to have in an era when even some of the bigger names in R&B (like Aretha Franklin) were beginning to drown in soft-rock mushiness and schlocky sentimentalism. So, by the average standards of 1974, Candi is doing quite fine, even as she finds herself ʽGoing Through The Motionsʼ.