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Album Review

Following up the creative — if not commercial — peak of Mellow Dreamin' and the departure of Kenneth Chaney as the band's full-time keyboardist, Young-Holt Unlimited took another detour. Born Again is a perfect reflection of its time — which does not mean it sounds dated. This is early 1971 in the aftermath of the summers of love and hate, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and the height of the Vietnam War. Young-Holt Unlimited wanted to lay out a music that brought people together at a very tense juncture and offer a more spiritual vibe form which to groove according to Brother Isaac "Redd" Holt's liner notes. Kenneth Chaney was in the process of leaving the group, with Bobby Lyle moving in to replace him. Chaney appears on three tracks, and Marylean Holt appears on one. The set opens with swinging version of "I'll Be There." The groove is up-tempo, slippery and almost gospel in intent with Lyle on B3 playing counterpoint to Young's eight-string "lead" bass; it's breathtaking. Likewise, an extended version of George Harrison's "Something," with Eldee playing both electric and upright is a blissed-out mind-bender. Other covers, Such as "We've Only Just Begun," and Bread's "Make It With You," sound like paeans to reconciliation and brotherhood as much as they do love songs. The tempos are breezy, the textural production elements — by the murky and mysterious Saturday Night Music Inc. brain trust — swirl and shimmer through the mixes. There is great contrast on Holt's elegy "Blood in the Streets," with its muted, funereal drumbeat, an emotive yet street savvy string arrangement by Richard Evans and a haunted backing chorus. Still, the sweet groove is here, too in Marylean Holt's simmering "Luv Bug," Evans' funky to the hilt "Hot Pants," and Young's finger poppin' booty shaker "Wah Wah Man." If Young and Holt wanted to put something across that offered people an opportunity to agree on something, that something was groove, and a spiritual groove to boot. It's positive, mood altering, thought-provoking and butt-shaking. Born Again is a winner on all counts.

Biography

Formed: 1966 in Chicago, IL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Bassist Eldee Young and drummer Isaac "Red" Holt attended the American Conversatory of Music in Chicago together, and played together in a dance orchestra called the Cleffs, where they met pianist Ramsey Lewis and formed a popular jazz trio in 1956. After a decade as Lewis' rhythm section, Young and Holt split to form their own act in the wake of the trio's breakout pop hit "The 'In' Crowd." Hiring pianist Hysear Don Walker and christening themselves the Young-Holt Trio, they scored a quick Top 20...
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Born Again, Young-Holt Unlimited
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