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Gloria Scott

What Am I Gonna Do

(Reel Music; US: 16 Jun 2009; UK: 16 Jun 2009)

Looking directly at the camera, her longing registers. Her eyes, brushed with blue, define the album title. What is she going to do? Love is so elusive that all she can do is rest her love-weary head between her hands. Who is this Juliet without a Romeo; a woman who seems robbed of love—again? Her name, written in wing-tipped font, is Gloria Scott, and she just happens to be the voice behind one of the greatest “lost” soul records of all time.


Produced by Barry White, What Am I Gonna Do (1974) was Scott’s first and only full-length studio release. The San Francisco-based singer imbued the songs White selected for the album with a convincing blend of heart, soul and hope. “(A Case of) Too Much Love Makin’” is emblematic of Scott’s predicament across the album’s eight original tracks: She’s in love, giving every bit of herself, but it’s unrequited. White dresses Scott’s love jones in his classic Love Unlimited style with help from Tom Brock and Gene Page. Sadness never sounded this good.


With first-rate production, it’s a small mystery why the album had limited commercial appeal upon its release in 1974 by Casablanca Records. Lushly orchestrated by White and sung with conviction by Scott, the quality was on par with any album in the marketplace at the time. Some 35 years later, the album is finally getting the love it deserves through a stunning re-issue by Reel Music. (Bill Lacey and Ellen Fitton merit major kudos for a re-mastered sound that should be the gold standard for any catalog re-release.) A. Scott Galloway’s thorough liner notes also include new insights from Gloria Scott about the recording of the album, adding more dimensions to the listening experience.


What are you gonna do? Buy this album.

Rating:

Christian John Wikane is a NYC-based journalist and music essayist. He's a Contributing Editor for PopMatters, where he's interviewed artists ranging from Paul McCartney to Janelle Monae. For the past three years, he's penned liner notes for more than 100 CD re-issues by legends of R&B, rock, pop, dance, and jazz. Since 2008, he's produced and hosted Three of Hearts: A Benefit for The Family Center at Joe's Pub. He is the author of the five-part oral history Casablanca Records: Play It Again (PopMatters, 2009). Follow him on Twitter @CJWikaneNYC. 


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