It’s reissue time today: Austin, Texas-born Tom Brock, who went to live in Los Angeles in the first half of the 70s, released just one LP back in 1974, copies of which circle around for 100€ and more, if at all. The album was produced by Barry White and his influence can be heard throughout the record. Mr Bongo, the great London-based label, has recently reissued the album on vinyl.
Even though Barry White co-wrote just two of the tracks here, his typical characteristics are all over this superb, overlooked, almost forgotten album: the lush strings, cute background vocals by The Unlimited Four, urgent bass and drum shuffles, and incessantly midtempo grooves too crucial to ignore. There are some magic Marvin Gaye moments, like on the dramatic soul ballad “There’s Nothing In This World That Can Stop Me From Loving You”, coming across like an uncut gem, with in-your-face production and magnificent vocals by Tom. How did we miss out on this album?
The album opens with a splendid, veritable soul anthem, with gut-wrenching arrangement by Gene Page. “Have A Nice Weekend Baby” is one of those songs you want to get back to over and over again. The mellowness continues with “The Love We Share Is The Greatest Of Them All”, another winner with its sophisticated, relaxed and tender mood. The single off the album, the title track, is the essence of Barry White of the mid 70s. It’s an instantly glorious soul groover, once again with some Marvin Gaye moments thrown in. Pure bliss. Right up there in the same league as Leroy Hutson. Or Leon Ware.
Wah wah guitars, strings, and those glamorous backing vocals give the slightly disco-fied “Naked As The Day I Was Born” its fancy, elaborate feel. “Shake Me, Wake Me” sounds like a Motown offshoot, and the album closer “If We Don’t Make It, Nobody Can” like a Blaxploitation add.
There was some renewed interest in Tom’s work in the early 00s due to some sampling of various hip-hop acts, but he died in his home in Richmond, California, much too soon in 2002, not even 60 years old.