Picks and Pans Review: Visions
Gladys Knight & the Pips
Knight's talents were scouted early when at age 7 she won $2,000 on Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour for her dazzling rendition of the Nat King Cole hit Too Young. Now 39, Knight is still an impressive gospel-tinged soul stylist who can glide joyously through her tunes, aided by her faithful Pips. (The same three Pips have been with her since the group was formed in 1958.) Knight never makes a really bad record, but this collection seems a bit diffused, if not confused. There are no fewer than five studio-production teams credited for the 10 songs, which gives the LP a scattershot sound, as if Knight & Co. couldn't decide what they wanted to do. There's a stab at party funk (Oh La De Da), a couple of urgently plaintive tearjerkers (Hero, Heaven Sent) and some unalloyed boogie tunes. While these are executed competently, Knight's marvelous and emotion-packed voice deserves better than this project, which demonstrates anything but what the title suggests.
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