ANALOG TO DIGITAL: DUETS, WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?
Edwin Starr and Blinky, Just We Two (1969)
I'd never heard of this album before spotting it at Reckless Records in Chicago but who could resist that cover? This was an album Edwin Starr recorded after "Agent Double-O-Soul" but before "War," working with another new Motown signing, an L.A. preacher's daughter named Blinky. It's a pretty inspired pairing, too. Starr's a belter, and like The Four Tops' Levi Stubbs he pushes the Funk Brothers outside the assembly-line comfort zone. (James Jamerson's bass work is worth the price alone.) Blinky's clearly someone's who grew up listening to gospel and pop and decided she didn't have to choose between them.
Starr would go one to release "War" the next year, one of the few hit songs from the classic Motown era that wears thin over time, especially since he displays a much greater range here than that song's one-note grunting. You won't hear it on too much after "War" either, certainly not on the dreadful disco hit "H.A.P.P.Y. Radio." And Blinky? She apparently kept recording material that never saw the light of day then went on to open for Sammy Davis Jr. before disappearing from the scene. Listening to this it's hard to understand why.
When I started this I decided only to post from albums that aren't available on CD, not realizing that this had come out, in a limited edition, on Hip-O's online-only arm Hip-O select (a.k.a. The site that could eat up the Phipps family fortune if I bought everything from it I liked, like those big Motown singles collections and the James Brown singles series). So, in the interest of fairness, here's a link, and two of the album's best tracks. Dig the way Starr calls Blinky out by name on "I'll Understand." He almost makes the ridiculous name sound sexy.