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Reaching Out

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Album Review

Freda Payne was a onetime flagship of Invictus, the label established by Motown mutineers Holland-Dozier-Holland. Though she only made three albums with the former Detroit hit machine, it was through the first two singles both artist and label became instantly known. Parting with Motown proved the right decision for HDH in their search for more creative recognition. Through Payne's "Unhooked Generation" and " "Band of Gold" they nurtured a newfound soul style. Combining the infectious rhythmic base of their earlier efforts with the Supremes and the Four Tops, HDH ventured into a more funk-oriented approach, with a little less emphasis on the familiar orchestration.

Payne's debut album may have been a standout. By the time Reaching Out was released, Holland-Dozier-Holland seemed to have focused their attention elsewhere. They only took writing credits for three compositions, leaving the bulk to Smith and co-producer Dunbar and some ill-advised cover versions. A little less attention to the packaging would have been at its place; not even a bikini-clad Payne can make up for a tragic misstep like treating listeners to her version of "If You Go Away." Her voice remains sensual throughout the album; however, it never comes close to the spine tickling capacities of the debut. Also, Reaching Out is heavily in need of more playful album tracks like "The Easiest Way to Fall" or "Love on Borrowed Time" from her debut album. Only in one instance does Payne revitalize the memory of earlier hits: the darkly grooving "Mother Misery's Favourite Child" reflects the way she had with domestic drama. Though it can't be all blamed on Payne; if only HDH and Dunbar had supplied her with some of the quality stuff they took to the Honey Cone.


Born: 19 September 1942 in Detroit, MI

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The multi-talented Freda Payne is best known for her singing career, yet she has also performed in musicals and acted in movies over the years, and was briefly the host of her own TV talk show. Born Freda Charcilia Payne on September 19, 1942, in Detroit, Michigan, Payne developed an appreciation of music at an early age (due to such sultry jazz singers as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday). Payne's own musical career blossomed soon after, as she began early singing radio commercial...
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Reaching Out, Freda Payne
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