Review Summary: Mama, they call her bad girl - but mama, they don't call this anything at all and that just ain't right.
In the years leading up to his recording of Time And Place
, Musicor released several singles performed by Lee Moses between 1965 and 1967, such as My Adorable One
, Reach Out, I’ll Be There
and Bad Girl
. None of them received the recognition they deserved and thus, the singles were a commercial failure. This didn’t put Lee off and he ended up recording his debut album, Time And Place
. It was an example of the best the soul genre had to offer but the album took the same route as the singles preceding it; being completely underappreciated it and being labelled a commercial failure. The gifted musician continued performing locally in his hometown of Atlanta but after the let down that were his singles and album collectively, he never recorded again.
Nearly forty years after its release and a decade after Lee died, Time And Place
was reissued in 2007, pretty much becoming an anthology for all of Lee’s recordings. Placed alongside the original nine tracks from the 1971 album were all of the singles the soul singer recorded from 1965 to 1970. The hope was that Lee would finally be given the praise and mainstream acceptance he deserved... what actually happened was just a repeat of his album release: it sunk under the radar, only to be dragged into people’s consciousness when someone stumbled across it and began radically preaching about its greatness.
The first half of the anthology is made up completely of the 1965 to 1970 singles and it’s probably the strongest section of the album, opening with an emotional ballad, My Adorable One
. The third and fourth tracks are instrumentals of The Four Tops’ Reach Out I’ll Be There
and The Beatle’s Day Tripper
and both of them showcase Lee’s talent with the guitar.
The peak of the album comes next with a song spliced into two parts. Whether that was because of recording limitations or they just wanted two sides of the vinyl to be used for the single release, I don’t know. What I do know is Bad Girl (Parts 1 & 2)
could be the greatest song ever composed. The drums are easy and chilled; the guitar tone is the most relaxing you’ll ever hear and even better than that, it sounds damn great! Lee eventually starts singing about the love of his life that broke his heart – and he’s singing from his broken heart. You only realise that you may have stumbled upon the epitome of soul music when the chorus begins and Lee’s voice is surrounded by a blare of beautifully arranged trumpets and a group of female backing vocals. The lyrics are something else as well. It’s just one of those songs everybody has to like because it’s pretty much perfect.
Another of the album’s highlights pops up with If Loving You Is A Crime (I’ll Always Be Guilty)
, with Lee likening his unrequited love to being on trial in court and admitting he’s guilty, hoping the jury will let him go for the sake of true love. Most tracks on the album have great groovy bass guitar on them but it’s this song that its most prominent, apart from Bad Girl
and California Dreaming
Next up, you have two different versions of Time And Place
, a single version released to promote the album and an album version... that appeared on the 1971 version. They are pretty much the same funky, easy listening song but the guitar tones on both are a little bit different, as well as the drumming section. Similar to Bad Girl
, it has a perfectly timed trumpet section.
The other album highlights are mostly covers of famous songs that once again, showcase how much of a magician Lee Moses is when he’s handed a guitar. His vocals on California Dreaming
and Hey Joe
make you wonder if you’re sure they’re cover songs: he invests so much emotion in his performance he makes the songs his own. Another great track off the album is Every Boy And Girl
, which begins with a choir singing the song title and Lee comes in singing solo. This stands alongside Bad Girl
as seeming completely timeless. It’s a treasure you can lose yourself in. Speaking of Bad Girl
, the album actually ends with She’s A Bad Girl
, a shorter reworking of the two part single listeners were treated to back in 1967. This reworking loses the original’s beautiful electric guitar work but replaces it with the most addictive bass line you’ve ever heard. Not as good as the single but still worthy of a listen.
Sometimes bad things happen and things don’t go the way they should. Lee’s recording career might have been a flop but I urge you, if you walk away from anything today, walk away having listen to Time And Place
. If you Google it, you’re going to encounter the phrase, ‘lost soul treasure,’ a lot of the time and you’re going to encounter it for a reason. Don’t do yourself the disservice of not listening to this album – if you love music, you’ll find something to love on this. And if my review hasn’t convinced you that you will, then I implore you to just Youtube Bad Girl (Parts 1 & 2)
. It’s one of those songs everyone should hear.