THE NEW BIRTH
1975 Buddha Records (BDS 5636)
Blind Baby 4:30
Dream Merchant 4:20
I Remember Well 5:21
Blind Man 4:45
Why Did I 4:30
Produced for Basement Productions, Inc.
Recorded at Sunwest Recording Studios, Hollywood.
Mixed at Wally Heider Studios, California.
Austin Lander – Baritone Saxophone, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Robin Russell – Drums, Percussion
Charlie Hearndon – Guitar
Leroy Taylor – Guitar
Carl McDaniel – Guitar, Backing Vocals
James Baker – Keyboards, Trombone, Piano, Tuba, Clavinet, Timbales, Percussion
Alan Frey – Percussion, Congas, Vocals
Tony Churchill – Tenor Saxophone, Vibraphone, Backing Vocals
Robert Jackson – Trumpet, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Londie Wiggins – Vocals, Percussion
Leslie Wilson – Vocals, Percussion, Mandolin
Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
Artwork at 600 dpi (for hi-res), downsampled to 300 dpi for Redbook
This is The New Birth’s first album after leaving RCA, made for Buddha Records, and it’s probably my favorite record by the group. The tunes are strung together like a concept album; it’s not really a concept record but it does have a Mellotron on it. “Blind Baby” is graced with great original songwriting that had come a long way
since their first early 70s efforts, all played and sung with chops and
passion and captured brilliantly by the wizards at Wally Heider Studio. The tunes span from gritty funk, to sweaty soul jazz, to sweet soul
balladry. “Dream Merchant” was the hit off the record but there isn’t a
bad song on it. The firecracking “Grandaddy” was featured on Flabbergasted Freeform Radio No.3. The New Birth had a sickly huge twelve-person lineup at this point, expanded with members of The Nite-Liters, and they never sounded better. One secret weapon among many was lovely vocalist and Louisville native Londie
Wiggins, who occasionally hits high notes in whistle-register Minnie Ripperton territory. She carries the lead on “Forever” and “Why Did I.”
Her intonation isn’t always spot on but, you know, they didn’t have
Autotune in 1975 to make everyone sound as equally “perfect” and bland
as everyone else. The New Birth made quite a few records and I’m sure other people have their own particular favorites, but for me this one is the cream of the crop.
From top left to bottom right: Londie Wiggins, Carl McDaniel, Alan Frey, James Baker, Robin Russell, Leroy Taylor, Robert Jackson, Tony Churchill (who is a Pisces), Leslie Wilson, Melvin Wilson, Austin Lander, Charlie Hearndon