Search - Blackbyrds :: Action / Better Days

Action / Better Days
Action / Better Days
Genres: Jazz, Pop, R&B
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1

1994 Ace Records release out of the U.K


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CD Details

All Artists: Blackbyrds
Title: Action / Better Days
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Beat Goes Public Bgp
Release Date: 2/1/1995
Album Type: Import
Genres: Jazz, Pop, R&B
Styles: Easy Listening, Funk, Soul
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 029667279024


Album Description
1994 Ace Records release out of the U.K

CD Reviews

Fly, Blackbyrds, Fly
Olukayode Balogun | Leeds, England | 06/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was in a specialist record store in Essex with my brother last summer and I noticed he got really excited when he saw a copy of The Blackbyrds' "Better Days" on CD and without any hesitation whatsoever, paid an eyebrow-raising price for it. I remembered the group from back in the day of course and the cover of the album looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn't for the life of me remember any of their songs. I knew the album had to be something special though because although I'd never admit it to him, my brother's knowledge of music is much more extensive than mine is. He has good taste in music too but he gives jazz a wide berth so I feel I have the edge on that score.

So obviously I didn't breathe a word. I made a mental note of the album though and eventually came across this, which seemed like the proverbial gift horse, as it's two albums on the one CD. Not only does it have the album my brother snapped up, it's got another one as a bonus.

The first album ("Action" from 1977) is actually very good. Nice and easy soul songs, some funky, some of them veering delightfully into rare groove territory, drifted out of the speakers one after the other and by the time it came to a close, I was already very glad that I'd got the CD. I didn't hear anything familiar and didn't hear anything that made me jump out of my seat, except for the shimmery, jazz-tinged "Mysterious Vibes" and the instrumental "Something Special" but it didn't matter. The overall quality (and enjoyment factor) of the music is just that good (and just that high). The ballad "Soft And Easy" is also notable but only on account of the fact that it gets very saucy towards the end, à la Donna Summer in her early days of songs like "Love To Love You Baby" and "Could It Be Magic".

The second album ("Better Days" from 1980) initially had me wondering. The first couple of songs came on and though they were well produced, well played and so forth, I began to wonder what my brother had been so excited about. Then "Without Your Love" came on and I got it. This tune was a staple of the school dance floors back in the day, alongside other tunes like Delegation's "Darling, I Think About You" and Shalamar's "Make That Move". That tune alone is worth the price of the CD and would be guaranteed to go down a storm at a party if I were still DJ-ing.

But there are a couple of other good tunes here as well. "Love Don't Strike Twice" and "Don't Know What To Say" particularly stand out.

All in all, this is a great collection of 17 soulful, funky and totally summery songs. Little wonder really, as they were all produced by George Duke. I've researched the group now and have learned that The Blackbyrds were indeed huge back in the early 80s. They are Kevin Toney on keyboards, Keith Killgo on drums, Joe Hall on bass, Orville Saunders on guitar and Stephen Johnson on saxophone. The albums feature people like Ernie Watts on tenor and soprano sax, Ray Parker, Jr on guitar, the legendary Donald Byrd on trumpet and the equally legendary Jerry Hey on trumpet and horn arrangements. Fans of what we Brits call rare groove will love this, as will fans of bands like Maze, Earth, Wind & Fire or even Cameo or Brass Construction. This is quality music. Soul with a funky edge. Well worth checking out."