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Soul - Released January 1, 1969 | Cadet Records

Marlena Shaw's penchant for stylistic variety is certainly evident on this, her sophomore release. Cut for the Cadet label in 1969, Spice of Life ranges from soul and proto-funk to jazz and MOR-hued material. Shaw shines throughout, showing her power on politically charged, Aretha-styled cuts like "Woman of the Ghetto" and "Liberation Conversation," while also delivering supple interpretations of such traditional jazz fare as "Go Away Little Boy" (shades of Nancy Wilson). And with a gutsy take on "Stormy Monday," it's clear Shaw doesn't shrink from the blues either. Across this sound spectrum, arrangers Richard Evans and Charles Stepney envelope Shaw in unobtrusive yet exciting pop-soul environs, throwing kalimba runs (a few years before Earth, Wind & Fire picked up on the instrument), psych guitar accents, and bongo-fueled organ riffs into the mix. Their widescreen touch is particularly well essayed on strings-and-brass standouts like the Bacharach-inspired Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil composition "Looking Through the Eyes of Love" and Ashford & Simpson's "California Soul" (a classic reading heavily favored by the crate-digging set). A perfect way to get familiar with Shaw's impressive early work. © Stephen Cook /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1974 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2010 | Capitol Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1973 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1974 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1972 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1976 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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R&B - Released February 1, 1977 | Columbia - Legacy

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R&B - Released June 4, 1979 | Columbia - Legacy

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R&B - Released April 6, 1999 | Columbia - Legacy

Marlena Shaw is one of Columbia's best signings, as she came to the label after the classic 1975 LP Who Is This Bitch, Anyway? In short order, Shaw continued to do great work, with a new accent on disco and less jazz-accented R&B. While quite a few compilations get tracks from before or after the artist's tenure there, this concentrates on three late-'70s titles, Sweet Beginnings, Acting Up, and Take a Bite. The tracks from Sweet Beginnings remain the best. Urbane, perfectly sung tracks like "Sweet Beginnings," "Yu-Ma/Go Away Little Boy," and the brassy "I Think I'll Tell Him" provide high points few singers are ever able to accomplish. Later songs "I'm Back for More," "Moonrise," and "The Rhythm of Love" pale in comparison to the work from Sweet Beginnings. If anything, Go Away Little Boy: The Sass and Soul of Marlena Shaw shows how daring Shaw is. Shaw paired herself with producers and arrangers including Bobby Bryant, Meco Monardo, and Harold Wheeler. While the results could have been disastrous, Shaw came out unscathed. The uncut and sensual disco of "Love Dancin'" to the playful "No One Yet" prove that it was a great move, as Shaw's voice again is vibrant and sensual. This 1999 set was the first time that Shaw's knowing, great, and dancy disco cover of "Touch Me in the Morning" made it to CD. Despite the great artist it spotlights, this set does miss Shaw essentials like "Don't Ask Me to Stay Until Tomorrow," "Johnny," and "Look at Me, Look at You." Even without some songs, this does capture Marlena Shaw's edge. © Jason Elias /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1973 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

This Blue Note CD reissue is a rarity in its own way for it features the R&Bish singer Marlena Shaw in a more spontaneous setting than usual with a trio led by pianist George Gaffney at the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival. It is not too surprising that Shaw found her greatest successes in pop/soul music for the stylized way that she bends nearly every note and overplays the lyrics (not much subtlety here) fits that idiom quite well. She does her best on Annie Ross's "Twisted" but sounds much more comfortable shouting out over r&b vamps, making this recording of limited interest from the jazz standpoint. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released January 3, 1978 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Concord Records

Marlena Shaw's recording career has been rather spotty, with the soulful singer often recording inferior and forgettable pop tunes. Fortunately, her Concord releases (of which this CD was her second) have been on a higher level. For this date, Shaw is accompanied by pianist Dave Hazeltine, either Earl May or Terry Miller on bass, and drummer Jerry Jones; the first three numbers add the always welcome tenor of Stanley Turrentine. Not all of the material is equally memorable ("Where Do You Start?" did not need to be recorded again), but there are enough highlights to make this a worthy acquisition, including "Your Mind Is on Vacation," "How Deep Is the Ocean?," the 1920s chestnut "Handy Man," "'Round Midnight," and "My Old Flame." © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1967 | GRP

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Soul - Released January 1, 1973 | Blue Note

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1976 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1974 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

A record as fierce and blunt as its title portends, Who Is This Bitch, Anyway? vaults Marlena Shaw into a brave new world of feminism and funk, updating the sophisticated soul-jazz approach of her previous records to explore a fast-changing musical, political, and sexual landscape. Opening with "You, Me and Ethel," a hilarious satire of the singles bar culture, the album dissects modern romance with uncommon insight and candor, addressing lust ("Feel Like Makin' Love") and loss ("You Been Away Too Long") without pulling any punches. The music is similarly direct and progressive, running the gamut from luminous soul to scorching funk grooves. Not only Shaw's best-selling Blue Note release, Who Is This Bitch, Anyway? represents her creative apex as well. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1973 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

3 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t sees Shaw put her inimitable stamp on pop-soul, show tunes and torch songs." © TiVo
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House - Released August 25, 2017 | Pets Recordings

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R&B - Released September 28, 1988 | Polydor