JACKIE MOORE-WITH YOUR LOVE.

JACKIE MOORE-WITH YOUR LOVE.

It was during the recording sessions for Jackie Moore’s 1973 album Sweet Charlie Babe that Jackie first met Philly guitarist and producer Bobby Eli. In 1973, Bobby was a member of M.F.S.B., Philadelphia International Records’ legendary house band. Two years later, after a dispute over money, Bobby Eli and other members of M.F.S.B. Bobby Eli left Philadelphia International Records in 1975, The Salsoul Orchestra. This saw Bobby Eli become a member of two of the greatest house-bands in musical history. By 1978, when Jackie Moore signed to Columbia, Bobby Eli had forged a successful career as a producer. Among the groups Bobby had produced were Blue Magic, Major Harris and Brenda and The Tabulations. So, it was no surprise that Jackie specified that Bobby Eli produced her Columbia debut, I’m On My Way. While I’m On My Way reached number forty-five in the US R&B Charts in 1979, it featured This Time Baby, which gave Jackie Moore a number one single in the Club Play Charts. Since then, This Time Baby has become a stonewall disco classic, and become synonymous with Jackie Moore. A year later, in 1980, Jackie Moore would release her second album for Columbia, With Your Love. Again, Bobby Eli produced the album, but since I’m On My Way was released, the musical landscape had changed drastically. Disco was no longer as popular. Suddenly, disco sucked and disco artists were something of a hot potato. How would this affect Jackie Moore’s fourth album and second album for Columbia With Your Love?

For Jackie’s post-disco album, eight tracks were chosen. Producer Bobby Eli cowrote four of the tracks, three with Jeffrey Prusan. Bobby also cowrote Love Won’t Let Me Wait with Vinnie Barrett, which saw Jackie sing a duet with Winifred “Blue” Lovett of The Manhattans. Of the other tracks, Holland, Dozier, Holland cowrote Helpless, William Neal and Diane Bernstein penned Just To Be With You (I Would Be In Heaven) and Brad Shapiro and Wilson Pickett Jr. contributed Don’t Know My Love. These tracks would be recorded at the Sigma Sound Studios in New York and Philadelphia, along with some of Philly’s most talented musicians.

Joining Jackie Moore and producer Bobby Eli were some of Philly’s greatest musicians. This includes guitarists Dennis Harris, T.J. Tindall, drummer Keith Benson and bassist Jimmy Williams. Then there was Lenny Pakula and Cotton Kent on keyboards, percussionist Larry Washington and Don Renaldo and The Philadelphia Horns and Strings. Adding backing vocals were the legendary Sweethearts of Sigma, Barbara Ingram, Evette Benton and Carla Benson.These musicians and backing vocalists recorded the eight tracks at Sigma Sound Studios in New York and Philadelphia. Once the eight tracks that comprise With Your Love were recorded, the album was released in 1980.

On the release of Jackie Moore’s second album for Columbia, With Your Love in 1980, the album failed to match the success of I’m On My Way. Nor did the singles match the success of This Time Baby. Sadly, this lead to Jackie Moore being dropped by Columbia. This wasn’t unusual for the time. Whereas previously, labels would’ve given an artist another chance to redeem themselves, not now, not since disco’s demise. Similarly, soul and funk wass decreasing popularity, labels were dropping disco, soul and funk artists whose music wasn’t selling in the same quantities as before. Jackie Moore sadly, was a victim of the times. However, if With Your Love had been released a couple of years earlier, would it have been a commercial success? That’s what I’ll tell, after I’ve told you about the music on With Your Love.

Opening With Your Love is Helpless penned by Holland, Dozier and Holland. It’s an uptempo dance track that literally bursts into life. The rhythm section, guitars and percussion drive the arrangement along, while Don Renaldo and The Philadelphia Horns and Strings are at the heart of the track’s sound. Jackie’s vocal is a mixture of power and emotion, while the Sweethearts of Sigma accompany her. Strings sweep and swirl, while horns rasp as Jackie’s vocal is soulful, reminiscent of a late sixties, early seventies sound. Key to the track’s sound and success is the interplay between Jackie and the soaring, Sweethearts of Sigma. Holland, Dozier and Holland’s name is written all over this hook-laden track, while Bobby Eli’s production is a mixture of emotion and drama.

As Just To Be With You (I Would Be In Heaven) begins, straight away, Jackie has your attention. Her powerful, voice soars high above Bobby Eli’s arrangement, while tight dramatic and soulful Sweethearts of Sigma augment her vocal. The punchy, funky rhythm section, keyboards, lush cascading strings and bursts of blazing horns accompany Jackie as she delivers an impassioned, diva-seque vocal. She strides through the track, delivering one of her best vocals on With Your Love, with the Sweethearts of Sigma playing an important part in the track’s sound. Bobby Eli’s multi-talented band also play a crucial part in the track’s success, especially Don Renaldo and The Philadelphia Horns and Strings, plus the rhythm section of drummer Keith Benson, Jimmy Williams and Dennis Harris provide the track’s heartbeat. Their contribution plus Jackie Moore’s diva-esque performance make this one of the album’s highlights. 

On Love Won’t Let Me Wait, Winifred “Blue” Lovett The Manhattans’ join Jackie on a track written by Bobbie Eli and Vinnie Barrett. Woodwind, Larry Washington’s percussion, Lenny Pakula’s keyboards and sensual saxophone solo gives way to Winifred’s deep, sultry vocal. Then Jackie’s heartfelt, needy vocal enters with the Sweethearts of Sigma reflecting the heartache and desire in her vocal. Meanwhile, Bobby Eli’s arrangement perfectly compliments Jackie’s vocal. He keeps the tempo slow, combining lush strings, keyboards, a thoughtful rhythm section and the Sweethearts of Sigma. His coup de grace is a beautiful saxophone solo that adds to the emotion, beauty and heartache of the track.

Walk Away From Love is the first of a trio of tracks which Bobby Eli and Jeffrey Prusan cowrote. It’s another uptempo dance track, which occasionally sounds like a close relation of This Time Baby. After that, you’re swept away above lush sweeping, swirling strings, while a pounding rhythm section and rasping horns combine with Jackie’s sassy, confident vocal. The Sweethearts of Sigma add some of their best harmonies. They’re tight, punchy and soar above the arrangement, in time with the strings. Jackie and the whole band seem to raise their game and this results in a glorious sounding track, one that if it had been released a couple of years earlier, would’ve filled many a dance-floor.

Take A Stand is another of the Bobby Eli and Jeffrey Prusan penned tracks. Jimmy Williams funky bass opens the track, before a myriad of cascading strings, funky rhythm section and growling horns combine with Jackie’s powerful, feisty vocal. The Sweethearts of Sigma tight harmonies sweep in, while the pounding rhythm section provides the track’s funky heartbeat. As Jackie’s vocal is carried along amidst the strings, backing vocals and rasping horns, she delivers a powerful, swaggering vocal that’s brimming with confidence. Bobby Eli’s arrangement sees him fuse Philly Soul with elements of disco and funk, and in doing so, provide the perfect backdrop for Jackie Moore’s swaggering vocal.

The tempo drops on the title-track With Your Love, the last of the trio of Bobby Eli and Jeffrey Prusan compositions. It allows Jackie to return to her soulful roots, and demonstrate just how good she is at delivering a ballads. With a piano, slow rhythm section, weeping guitars and the Sweethearts of Sigma accompanying Jackie’s tender, heartfelt vocal. Her vocal is full of regret and resignation, while strings flourishes of harp add to the emotion and bursts of electric guitars add drama. While this is quite different to the other tracks on With Your Love, it demonstrates another side of Jackie Moore, where she breathes life meaning and emotion into a track.

Don’t Knock My Love sees a return to the uptempo style of music that prevalent on the first six tracks. Bobby Eli’s band kick loose. The rhythm section and guitars drive the track along, while Don Renaldo and The Philadelphia Horns and Strings, and Larry Washington’s percussion combine. Strings dance, quivering and shimmering, while horns rasp and blaze. Jackie struts her way through the track, like a disc diva, while the Sweethearts of Sigma surpass themselves. Their harmonies are tight, dramatic and punch, soaring soulfully above the arrangement, the perfect accompaniment for Jackie. Sometimes, they almost steal the show, as horns rasp and strings swirl. So good is this track, that it’s almost worth buying With Your Love to hear it. It would’ve been the perfect track to close the album. After all, it’s better to leave an audience wanting more?

Closing With Your Love is a medley of two tracks You Needed Me and  I Honestly Love You. After the last blistering track, this descent into AOR is somewhat unexpected. However, with the rhythm section playing slowly, while lush strings and gospel tinged backing vocals from the Sweethearts of Sigma Jackie delivers a heartfelt vocal full of emotion and sincerity. As the track progresses, Bobby Eli builds the drama. He uses the rhythm section, weeping guitars, lush strings and keyboards to do so. Jackie puts her heart and soul into the track, delivering it with a mixture of power, emotion and drama, ably assisted by the Sweethearts of Sigma. This results in a quite beautiful and emotional way to end With Your Love.

Jackie Moore’s second and final album for Columbia With Your Love is one of these albums that had the misfortune to be released at the wrong time. Released in 1980, a year after the Disco Sucks backlash, With Your Love was released to an apathetic audience for disco, soul and funk albums. That meant that this hidden gem of an album failed to find the audience it deserved. While her previous album, 1979s  I’m On My Way had been a commercial success reaching number forty-five in the US R&B Charts in 1979, and featured This Time Baby, which gave Jackie Moore a number one single in the Club Play Charts, With Your Love failed commercially. Given the quality of Bobby Eli’s production, plus the performance from his multi-talented band and legendary backing vocalists the Sweethearts of Sigma, With Your Love deserved to be a commercial success. Sadly, all too often, quality music isn’t a commercial success, for many different reasons.  After this, Jackie Moore was dropped by Columbia, and since then has continued to perform regularly. In the thirty-two years since With Your Love’s release, its charms, subtleties and hook-laden sound has gradually found a wider audience.

For anyone whose looking to discover With Your Love, a word of warning. With Your Love is available on CD, but the sound quality isn’t the best. Listen carefully, and you can hear crackle and hiss on several tracks. This makes me surmise that rather than the original master tapes being used, this CD was mastered from vinyl. So, if like me you’re something of an audiophile, this CD isn’t for you. Best just look out for a good quality vinyl copy. All too often, I’m coming across reissue record companies who aren’t using the original master tapes. This was a practice I thought was gradually disappearing. Sadly, this isn’t the case. So, for anyone wanting to hear Jackie Moore’s second and final album for Columbia, take my advice, and look out for a good quality vinyl copy of I’m On My Way. Then you can revel in the Philly drenched sound of Jackie Moore on the eight tracks of With Your Love. Standout Tracks: As Just To Be With You (I Would Be In Heaven), Walk Away From Love, Take A Stand and Don’t Knock My Love.

JACKIE MOORE-WITH YOUR LOVE.

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