Picking Up The Pieces: Average White Band: Shine (RCA)

TWO OR THREE years ago, if the Average White Band had said, “Let’s go round again”, the vast majority of Britain’s record-buying public would have told them where to get off.

Singles-wise, they were hardly going round at all, but last year’s Feel No Fret album put their .45s back on their feet, with ‘Walk On By’ and ‘When Will You Be Mine’ providing somewhat unexpected success.

Now things have really taken off, with ‘Let’s Go Round Again’ their biggest single since ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ first introduced that slinky, dark-tanned white soul music. And it must be good, if only because it means that people will thus take more notice of their album.

Shine is worthy of that attention; it’s their usual blend of funky, soulful, and the two together. I thought that this time I could detect the odd Earth, Wind and Fire style horn, and felt vindicated to discover that the album is produced by David Foster, who has indeed worked with EW&F recently. His idea perhaps, that the Seawind Horns should embellish ‘Shine’itself and ‘Help Is On The Way’.

Of the other upbeat tunes, ‘Catch Me (Before I Have To Testify)’ has a twangy, Parliament/Isley Brothers style about it; ‘Into The Night’ is mainly an instrumental in the AWB tradition; and ‘Whatcha Gonna Do For Me’ has a particularly American flavour to it. They’ve always been well-loved for the blue eyed ballads, though, and ‘For You, For Love’ and ‘If Love Only Lasts For One Night’ (with Alan Gorrie in control) are good enough to be among their best, if not quite up to the mark of ‘Too Late To Cry’ from Feel No Fret. They’ll remember 1980 as their upswing year — too right they’re shining.

© Paul SextonRecord Mirror, 31 May 1980

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