Everybody Needs Love
Little Village Foundation
Sacramento’s Marcel Smith began singing in church and studied the music of gospel quartets: the Mighty Clouds of Joy, the Blind Boys, the Soul Stirrers, and the Dixie Hummingbirds. At the age of fifteen he was heard by gospel veteran Willie Washington who invited Smith to join his quartet the WD Gospel Singers. Smith soon found himself singing alongside the genre’s greatest artists and thus began to perfect his craft.
Smith recorded with the Soul Prophets in 1993, and with the WD Gospel Singers in 1994, but twenty-five years later, this is Smith’s solo debut. Vocally Smith is a cross between Sam Cooke and Wilson Pickett. Produced by Kid Andersen and Rick Estrin, the guitarist/vocalist is accompanied by an ensemble including guitarists Andersen and Stevie Gurr; LVF founder and keyboardist Jim Pugh; bassists Quantae Johnson, Endre Tarczy, and Robby Yamilov; and drummer Alex Pettersen. Backing vocalists include The Sons of The Soul Revivers, and Lisa Leuschner Andersen. Horn players include John Halbleib, trumpet; and saxophonists Jack Sanford and Nancy Wright. Special guests include the late gracious vocalist Wee Willie Walker; and Estrin, harmonica.
The twelve tracks are an eclectic collection of selected covers from gospel, soul, and pop. The title track, “Everybody Needs Love”, written by Ed Holland and Norman Whitfield was first recorded by the Temptations in 1965. “What A Friend (We Have In Jesus)”, “Pressing On” and “This Little Light Of Mine” are gospel standards the later featuring Estrin on harmonica. Three songs come from the Cooke songbook: “Keep Movin’ On” a vocal duet with special guest Walker; “Hold Me” featuring a ska beat and the horns; and “That’s Heaven To Me”.
Both 1972’s “Harry Hippie” and 1975’s “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way” are from Bobby Womack who early in his career was Cooke’s guitarist. “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” was a huge 1969 hit single for the Hollies and Smith adds a fine narrative. My favorite is “Poor Man’s Struggle”. Smith closes with Nat King Cole’s “Looking Back”.
Smith is a fabulous vocalist with great clarity and dramatic expression. Pugh’s Little Village Foundation is a non-profit label that seeks out artists that otherwise would not be heard in the hope that they might fulfill their dreams and further their careers. Look for Smith to do just that as he has begun working with the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra. Mission accomplished. Thank you Marcel Smith for your god given talent, and to everyone involved in this production.