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Doin' It Right

Mike James Kirkland

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Album Review

One year after producing Hang on in There, Mike James Kirkland returned with Doin' It Right, another soul/funk treasure that reveals an obscure artist more than capable of matching the work of his more popular contemporaries. Unfortunately, MCA, Kirkland's record label at the time, failed to get behind the releases and they faded from view. While the singer divided the A- and B-sides of Hang on in There between sobering reality themes and a batch of love songs, Doin' It Right focuses exclusively on the pained trials and tribulations of the heart. Once again, Kirkland's voice is set against a series of sophisticated arrangements that, at their best, avoid dipping into overly sentimental schmaltz. There are a few exceptions. The title track, an unfocused "I want you back" plea that unfolds over eight-plus minutes, begins as an unconvincing, soap-opera style drama. On a version of "O Me, O My (I'm a Fool for You Baby)," Kirkland drifts over a bed of guitar and strings for a series of verses that attempt too forcefully to tug at the heartstrings. More impressive is the singer's take on Carole King's "It's Too Late," a song whose sentiments translate easily into a soul setting. Also of note are the Kirkland originals that open and close the set: Songs like "Got to Do It Right," "Love Insurance," and "The Only Change" find the session players falling back on more reliable funk elements for more impressive results.


Born: Yazoo City, MS

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '70s

Originally from Yazoo City, Mississippi, Mike James Kirkland grew up singing doo wop and gospel. Eventually settling in California, Kirkland and his brother started a record label, Bryan Records, to release the love songs and socially conscious soul music that Kirkland had been writing. The two albums they released — Hang On in There in 1972 and its follow-up, Doin' It Right, both echoed the style and sentiments of other artists determined to comment on social issues relevant to the African-American...
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Doin' It Right, Mike James Kirkland
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