That’s right, yo – Della Reese. I think I can honestly say that I’ve managed to stumble around this planet for 50 years without ever hearing Della Reese. And I must say, never thought for a minute I was missing anything. And maybe I wasn’t, but this 1973 rarity on manager Lee Magid’s LMI Records is, at the least, pretty damn interesting.
Recorded over three sessions in October of 1972 at TTG Studios in Hollywood, Reese takes on a number of songs that would be familiar to many, reworking the arrangements on pretty much all of ’em. And I don’t think this was a case of Reese taking direction from anyone, as she alone is credited with “Production Concept” while Magid is credited as “Production Supervisor”. Nor were these sessions what I would call intimate – six guitarists, a few bass players, a few drummers and more than thirty credited horn and string session folks. Yowsa.
The songs? Okay, how about James Taylor’s “Fire & Rain”? Or a re-vamped Dylan song in “Lay Baby Lay”? Uh, a mash-up of “Never Can Say Goodbye” and Let’s Stay Together”? (Magid worked as an A&R guy for Al Green way back in the day). Throw in a couple of Bill Wither’s covers and a smattering of other well-chosen covers and you have, well, a record that I would have never expected to be credited to Della Reese.
I don’t think this has ever seen a CD release, but I couldn’t swear to it. And the vinyl is certainly scarce; can’t imagine this was a very large pressing. And it ain’t on iTunes or Spotify. The only non-lp place to find any music – YouTube. With some stereo hum in the background. Or is that foreground?
$50 and available over there, and over there.