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
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.