The Moments - On Top (LP)
Be With Records presents a reissue of The Moments' On Top, originally issued in 1971 and a perfect example of symphonic soul. Alongside contemporaneous acts from the early 70s -- The Chi-lites, The Stylistics, The Delfonics, The Futures, Blue Magic, and The Main Ingredient -- The Moments exuded all that was compelling about deep, harmony-drenched, string-laden soul. The standout here is "To You with Love", a floating, tender ballad sung by Harry Ray that features the group's patented handclap-tambourine combo, sweetly repetitive strings, serene guitar and gentle piano. It was famously sampled by J Dilla for "Last Donut Of The Night", the gut-wrenching finale to his seminal Donuts (2005). Concentrating solely on its sampled history would do The Moments a huge disservice, but its appearance at the climax of Donuts directed many soul fans to their work. Judged entirely on its merit, it's one of the most heart-breaking songs of any decade and worth the price of admission alone. If that wasn't enough, On Top also spawned two R&B hits: "All I Have" and "Lucky Me", each featuring Billy Brown's ice-melting falsetto. "All I Have" is a sumptuous introduction to the album, with melancholic, understated guitar licks, twinkling keys and heartbeat drums. The triumphant "Lucky Me" is simply gorgeous; all gentle chimes, swirling strings, and falsetto soaring atop proud horns. Also included are "I Can't Help It" and "That's How It Feels." The former features thundering kicks and crashing cymbals underneath flutes and stabbing strings and horns. The yearning vocals embody a Temptations-like delivery at times. "That's How It Feels" sees Brown's voice astride a bed of rhythms on a tune more aptly defined as a love suite than a song. Dripping in breakbeats, piano and strings, Brown describes the devastation of losing the one you love before the track brilliantly switches up with a sweeping string-led chorus and heavenly harmonies. The only genuine up-tempo number is "Sweeter As The Days Go By," led by Brown in his natural, gospel-inspired tenor. A charming but sorrow-filled "I Lost One Bird In The Hand" is an impressive, slow lamenter, with horns and strings dominating the lushly arranged backdrop. Appropriately, things end on a down-lifting note with "Candy Shack." The original analog tapes were remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis, and the memorable cover art was carefully reproduced. Edition of 500. Carefully reproduced original art. Remastered from original tape transfers.