Sister Love: The Warner Bros. Recordings

Sister Love: The Warner Bros. Recordings

by Lorraine Ellison

Lorraine Ellison is almost a perfect cult soul singer: she was blessed with a unique, powerful voice, she had two stone-cold classics to her name -- 1966's "Stay with Me" and "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)," which was later popularized by Janis Joplin -- which is enough success to get her remembered by aficionados but not enough to make…  See more details below


Lorraine Ellison is almost a perfect cult soul singer: she was blessed with a unique, powerful voice, she had two stone-cold classics to her name -- 1966's "Stay with Me" and "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)," which was later popularized by Janis Joplin -- which is enough success to get her remembered by aficionados but not enough to make her a star. It's also enough to suggest that Ellison deserved to be a star, that she had the talent and the material that deserved a wider audience, but like a lot of artists with a cult following, she's a great talent that may be an acquired taste for most listeners. Rhino Handmade's exhaustive three-disc set Sister Love: The Warner Bros. Recordings -- released in a limited run of 5000 copies in 2006 -- certainly suggests as much. For Ellison devotees, this is pretty much the Holy Grail, since it represents the first time all of her prime material has been released on CD. It has her first three LPs -- the 1966 debut Introducing Miss Lorraine Ellison b/w Heart & Soul and 1969's Stay with Me, both produced by Jerry Ragovoy, and the Ted Templeton-produced 1974 album Lorraine Ellison -- plus various singles and sessions from the early '70s, a bunch of rarities and a whole disc of unreleased demos from 1972. Since the previous CD release of Ellison's work was a single-disc set from Ichiban/Soul Classics in 1995 -- at 23 tracks, it was generous, but it still left a lot of music behind -- this certainly fills the need that devoted Ellison fans have and in some ways exceeds their expectations, since it not only contains the original albums, it also has the outtakes -- the slow-burning "Haven't I Been Good to You," recorded in 1967; the loose, funky, gospel-inflected "Woman, Loose My Man" from 1970; the Al Kooper written and produced "Let Me Love You," a 1970 session which is paired with "Doin' Me Dirty," taken from the same sessions and originally released on the Ichiban disc; "Dear John," recorded at Muscle Shoals in 1970; a version of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" from 1971; and three outtakes from the Templeton album, "When You Count the Ones You Love," "Sister Love," "Sweet Years" -- plus the rarities that showed up on previous comps, plus the disc of stark piano-and-voice demos. Even though it's missing a few sides cut later in the '70s, for all intents and purposes Sister Love is a complete recorded works and it offers plenty for the hardcore to sink their teeth into, both in its sheer size -- three discs and 65 songs is a lot of music -- but also because it touches on plenty of different kinds of soul, such as the dramatic and passionate soul-pop of Ragovoy's 1969 productions, the jazzy readings of standards and pop tunes on her debut, the deep soul from Muscle Shoals, and the intimate originals that comprise the demos. Given that range, it would seem that Ellison's work would not only satisfy her cult, but that its scope, as showcased on Sister Love, would also bring in new fans: the kind of listeners who are serious enough to dig through a three-disc set from a soul singer with only two charting hits. And certainly Sister Love will convert some of the curious, since it does illustrate that she was an artist with a broad range and specific gifts as a writer and a singer. But it also can reveal that Ellison's gifts are indeed quite specific, that her impressive, gospel-raised vocals can sometimes seem shrill, almost histrionic, that her songs are heartfelt and well-written yet not quite compelling, that no matter how passionate her singing -- and there is no question that she's committed on every cut here, throwing herself into her performances -- she sometimes doesn't seem to mesh with the deep grooves of the funk and soul of her '70s recordings. For all the soul she has, she doesn't have much grit, which is why her Ragovoy recordings work better; it's a better match of material, production and singer. But even there, the range can sometimes work against her -- when she does standards, it can seem like supper club, and she can't redeem "If I Had a Hammer" from pure schmaltz -- making her seem not adventurous, but inconsistent. Yet this is a matter of taste: for true believers, the sheer power of Ellison's performances, the intelligence in her writing and cover choices, and the uniqueness of her high, elegant voice blow away any possible inconsistencies in her songs or recordings. For them, Sister Love is undoubtedly essential since it truly showcases her range and accomplishments. But the completeness of the set cuts both ways: by offering everything Ellison did, it satisfies her cult, but all the music also articulates why Lorraine Ellison is a cult artist.

Product Details

Release Date:
Rhino Handmade


Disc 1

  1. I Got My Baby Back
  2. Stay with Me
  3. Heart and Soul
  4. Games That Lovers Play
  5. He's My Guy
  6. What a Difference a Day Makes
  7. A Change Is Gonna Come
  8. If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)
  9. When Love Flies Away
  10. Cry Me a River
  11. What Is a Woman?
  12. That's for Me
  13. My Man's Gone Now
  14. Ain't That Peculiar
  15. I'm Over You
  16. Only Your Love
  17. Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)
  18. I'm Gonna Cry Till My Tears Run Dry
  19. I Want to Be Loved
  20. The Hurt Came Back Again
  21. Stay with Me
  22. You Don't Know Nothing About Love
  23. You're Easy on My Mind
  24. No Matter How It All Turns Out
  25. A Good Love
  26. Heart Be Still

Disc 2

  1. Haven't I Been Good to You
  2. In My Tomorrow
  3. You've Really Got a Hold on Me
  4. Time Is on My Side
  5. Woman, Loose My Man
  6. Let Me Love You
  7. Doin' Me Dirty
  8. He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
  9. Caravan
  10. I'll Be Home
  11. Dear John
  12. You've Got a Friend
  13. Walk Around Heaven
  14. Country Woman's Prayer
  15. Do Better Than You're Doin'
  16. If Only I Could See Him
  17. No Relief
  18. I'll Fly Away
  19. The Road I Took to You
  20. Stormy Weather
  21. Many Rivers to Cross
  22. When You Count the Ones You Love
  23. Sister Love
  24. Sweet Years

Disc 3

  1. True Love
  2. I Need Your Love
  3. Goodbye My Love
  4. How Do You Think I Feel
  5. You Can't Slow Me Down
  6. Why Should We Say Goodbye
  7. Anything You Need
  8. Your Love Will Be Sweeter Someday
  9. I Love You More Today
  10. I Can't Get Along Without You
  11. I Can't Stand to Wait Much Longer
  12. Fools Are the Only Ones Who Have to Cry
  13. Without Your Love
  14. Same Old Thing Called Love
  15. God Can Stop the Rain from Falling

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Lorraine Ellison   Primary Artist
Oliver Nelson   Conductor
Jerry Ragovoy   Conductor
Garry Sherman   Conductor
Mark Wilson Jordan   Vocals

Technical Credits

George Gershwin   Composer
Sam Cooke   Composer
Kooper   Producer,Audio Production
Oliver Nelson   Arranger
Harold Arlen   Composer
Chip Taylor   Composer
Jimmie F. Rodgers   Composer
Charles Calello   Producer
Nick DeCaro   Arranger,Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements
Oscar Hammerstein   Composer
Arthur Hamilton   Composer
Donn Landee   Engineer
Jerry Ragovoy   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Phil Ramone   Engineer
Garry Sherman   Arranger
Richard Tee   Arranger
Ted Templeman   Audio Production
George David Weiss   Composer
Bert de Coteaux   Arranger
David Nathan   Liner Notes
Samuel Bell   Composer
DuBose Heyward   Composer
Lisa Glines   Art Direction
Ted Koehler   Composer
Stephen Paley   Producer
Mark Wilson Jordan   Arranger

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