SANDY BARBER-THE BEST IS YET TO COME.
SANDY BARBER-THE BEST IS YET TO COME.
When I was reviewing Al Kent’s Disco Love Volume 2, one of my favorite tracks from the compilation was Sandy Barber’s I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own). This made me think that it was time to review Sandy Barber’s The Best Is Yet To Come, which was rereleased in February 2012 by BBE Music, with five new tracks plus two remixes of Sandy’s brilliant I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own). Originally, The Best Is Yet To Come was released in 1977, on Olde Worlde Records. After being unavailable for thirty-five years, thankfully, BBE Music have decided it’s time for everyone to either discover or rediscover Sandy Barber’s combination of soulful and funky music. However, before I tell you about Sandy’s debut album The Best Is Yet To Come, I’ll briefly tell you about her career.
Born in in New York, Sandy Barber’s love of music developed from an early age. By the time she was a teenager, Sandy entered the Apollo Theatre in Harlem’s Talent Night, ending up second. This lead to Chris Curry arranging an audition with David Jordan, who was working under the pseudonym Rare Pleasure. Sandy’s voice was perfectly suited to a song the group were working on Let Me Down Easy. Released on Cheri Records, the song became a huge hit in clubs. Having recorded with Rare Pleasure, Sandy decided that she’d prefer to pursue a solo career. It was the fate intervened, and Sandy met a writer and producer Clyde Otis, who also owned a label.
Having heard Sandy sing, Clyde immediately signed Sandy to his label. Then recording would start for her debut solo album The Best Is Yet To Come. With numerous contacts in the music industry, Clyde used these contacts to help with recording of The Best Is Yet To Come at New York’s Mediasound Studios. Nat Adderley Jr. and David Wofford arranged the songs, while Tasha Thomas arranged the vocals and sung backing vocals. Clyde Otis produced the eight tracks on what would become The Best Is Yet To Come. With The Best Is Yet To Come recorded, it was set for release in 1977.
On the release of Sandy Barber’s debut album The Best Is Yet To Come, sadly, the album wasn’t a commercial success. After this, Sandy recorded under another pseudonym, Blue Moderne, who’d record for Atlantic Records and the Roll label. Later, Sandy would become Sandy B, recording on tracks for King Street Records, Nervous and the Vinylmania label. In 1993, Feel Like Singing gave Sandy a huge hit, reaching number one in the US Dance Charts. Then in 1997, Make the World Go Round on Champion Records, was named record of the year, quite an honour given the competition she was up against. Now thirty-five years after the release of The Best Is Yet To Come, Sandy Barber continues to perform, singing around the New York area. However, the album that started Sandy Barber’s career was The Best Is Yet To Come, which I’ll now tell you about.
The Best Is Yet To Come opens with Look Out Sky, driven along by hissing hi-hats and bass before the rhythm kick in, driving the track along. Sandy’s vocal is powerful and blessed with a soulful sound. Lush strings cascade in the background, while backing vocalists punctuate the arrangement and the rhythm section sprinkle some funk. By now, the track has taken on an uplifting and anthemic sound, that’s totally irresistible. With its combination of strings, jazz tinged guitar, pounding beat and impassioned backing vocalists accompanying Sandy, this is a joyous, uplifting track with a real feel-good sound. What a scintillating way to open The Best Is Yet To Come.
I’ve Got Something Good (Come And Get It) has a slightly different sound, with the bouncy rhythm section, blazing horns and flourishes of keyboards combining with Sandy’s sassy introduction. From there, Sandy decides to up the ante. Her vocal becomes confident, before her voice grows in power, taking on a self assured style. Meanwhile, the horns are punchy, while the backing vocalists take their lead from Sandy, their voices transformed into an impassioned, but controlled roar. Quickly, this stomping track makes its way to disco heaven 127, the perfect tempo for a disco track, while Sandy Barber takes on the role of diva on this stomping timeless track.
After the previous stomper of a track, Sandy slows things down, delivering a beautiful ballad The First Time. This proves that she’s as comfortable with ballads as the quicker, uptempo tracks. There’s a sense of poignancy and sadness as Sandy delivers the lyrics. Her voice changes from a softer, to a much more powerful impassioned style. Accompanying her is a fantastic arrangement from Nat Adderley Jr. Sad strings, piano and subtle horns accompany Sandy, who sounds not unlike Marlena Shaw. Later, the arrangement takes on a dramatic style, with the drums, strings and horns responsible for this, and perfect for Sandy’s delivery. As the track ends, you realize the versatility and talent of Sandy, on a track that combines poignancy, joy and beauty seamlessly.
Don’t You Worry Baby (The Best Is Yet To Come) sees the tempo rise as the track gradually reveals itself. It’s a combination of the rhythm section, hissing hi-hats, stabs of keyboards and percussion. Add to this gently rasping horns and the soulful, beautiful backing vocalists. When Sandy’s vocal enters, it’s confident as the tempo quickens, reaching 130 beats per minute. Mixing power, confidence and a sprinkling of drama, Sandy’s vocal gives way to soaring saxophone solo, as this disco track reveals its subtleties and charms. By the midsection, it’s all change with graceful, gliding strings entering, accompanied by another sultry saxophone solo. Then Sandy starts a short vamp, before she and her backing vocalist, accompanied by blazing horns, percussion, strings and the rhythm section drive the song to its brilliant ending.
I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping On My Own is one of the highlights of The Best Is Yet To Come. The track was co-written by Clyde Otis, Natt Adderley and Jay Hoggard, while Jay Hoggard produced the track. What makes the track is Sandy’s glorious, defiant vocal. It’s powerful and soulful, as the arrangement reveals flourishes of keyboards, funky rhythm section, rasping horns and percussion. Later the lushest of strings that float above the arrangement, while punchy, rasping horns punctuate the track. From there, the arrangement grows, getting even better, revealing its beauty and drama. By now, you realize that this is one of the true highlights of The Best Is Yet To Come, while demonstrating just how talented a vocalist Sandy Barber really is.
Wonder Woman brings back memories of Linda Carter twirling round and round in her role as female superhero. Here, Sandy funks up the theme to the television show. While the rhythm section provide a funk laden backdrop, punchy, blazing horns enter. Meanwhile, Sandy delivers the vocal with a combination of power and passion, while her band sprinkle funk and then backing vocalists add some soul to this funky cover version of the theme to Wonder Woman.
Can’t You Just See Me sees Sandy combine soul and gospel against a horn drenched backdrop. Sandy’s vocal is powerful and impassioned, tinged with a gospel style. Her backing vocalists deliver their lyrics in a similar gospel infused style, while the rhythm section is punchy and dramatic, while horns blaze and a piano is central to the song’s success. It helps drive the track along, while guitars and percussion augment its sound. While the horns and backing vocalists play important parts in the track, it’s Sandy Barber that steals the show with her impassioned and powerful combination of soul and gospel.
Closing the original version of The Best Is Yet To Come is Stay Here With Me, another beautiful ballad. This is a mid-tempo track, opening with drums rolling dramatically, accompanied by equally dramatic strings and piano, which give way to Sandy’s vocal. Straight away, you can hear another self-assured vocal from Sandy is about to unfold. She combines emotion and frustration, delivering the lyrics in a heartfelt style, while the piano and lush cascading strings are key to the arrangement’s sound and success. While Sandy’s vocal is powerful and impassioned, it’s also beautiful, like the arrangement. When they’re taken together, the result is not only a beautiful, emotive track, but one of the highlights of The Best Is Yet To Come is Stay Here With Me and the perfect way to close the album.
Truly, Sandy Barber’s debut solo album The Best Is Yet To Come is a real hidden gem of an album, that should’ve been a much bigger commercial success on its release in 1977. Thankfully, BBE Music have rereleased The Best Is Yet To Come, along with five bonus tracks which were meant to be on the follow-up album. As if that’s not enough, there are also two remixes of I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own). Both are stunning, giving a new twist on Sandy’s classic. One is by Al Kent and the other is by John Morales. However, although I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own) is the best known track on The Best Is Yet To Come, and is a true classic, there’s much more to the album than this. With the uptempo tracks like Look Out Sky, I’ve Got Something Good (Come And Get It), Don’t You Worry Baby (The Best Is Yet To Come) and the gospel tinged Can’t You Just See, these five tracks are irresistible. The two ballads The First Time and Stay Here With Me, which closes The Best Is Yet To Come two beautiful, heartfelt tracks. These two tracks demonstrate Sandy Barber’s versatility as a vocalist, with her as comfortable singing slow tracks as the quicker, uptempo tracks. With this mixture of styles of music, The Best Is Yet To Come is an album that all lovers of soul, funk and disco will adore. The rerelease of The Best Is Yet To Come by BBE Music gives everyone to rediscover this hidden gem of album, thirty-five years after it was originally released. Standout Tracks: Look Out Sky, The First Time, I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own) and Can’t You Just See Me.
SANDY BARBER-THE BEST IS YET TO COME.