Millie's new album is far more uptempo than any album she's ever done. Ironically, the track that most people are picking up on is a ballad!
THE fact that Millie Jackson's new album, "Get It Out Cha System", is going to be her fifth Gold album goes without saying. Hot on the heels of the immaculate "Feelin' Bitchy", it pre-shipped almost as many as "Feelin' Bitchy" sold so that should give you some idea of the growing significance of Ms. Jackson within the industry.
However, "System" does represent a slight change of direction for the ever-lovely Millie. "It's far more uptempo than any album I have ever done," she immediately gets to the heart of the matter.
"You see, everything I have ever done, the people always seem to go for the ballads and so I figured that if I did an album with more uptempo material, then perhaps I could get across to the discos and the millions of people who don't normally buy a Millie Jackson album. And there was also the possibility that an uptempo single - which is something I haven't had in years - would give me a crossover hit.
"The funny thing is that the track that everybody likes best -and that includes me, too! - is a ballad: It's the final cut on side two, "Sweet Music Man". (Editor's note: Millie, you're so right!). It's one of those songs with a story to it that I first heard sung by its writer, Kenny Rogers, on the "Tonight" TV show. And at the time, I kept thinking how I wish I could turn the lyrics round to make it the kind of song a woman could sing. Then last spring I met Kenny in Los Angeles and he said how he had actually written the song for a woman to sing and that if I were to blot out the introduction from his record, it would fit me perfectly.
"It seems that he only added the introduction he did to make it adaptable for a man, anyway!"
The other possible single is surely the Bobby Womack penned "Put Something On It". It's one of the tracks that fits into this album's rapping concept.
"I greatly respect, Bobby as a writer and that's why I always keep an ear out for anything he writes. But the album really isn't as much a concept as some of my others. Sure, there are the segues and the rapping but there is no real story line this time.
"The nearest to a concept is that on side two, she is getting him out of her system all the way through whereas side one is far more general. And "Sweet Music Man" is the part where she finally gets the man right out of her system. I love that song - you know something, at home I listen as much to Country radio as anything else and I find a lot of really great songs there."
One point of contention about the new album is the back side of the sleeve. It shows simply a toilet seat!
"Originally, it was going to be a double sleeve where the toilet seat opened up to show the credits on the inside. But they forgot to photograph the inside of the lid and so when it came for me to OK the sleeve from the proof, I saw that they had simply overlooked it and so I said to leave it like it is and make it a single sleeve. It would have been my first double sleeve so they had better get it right next time!"
Millie's golden past has been centered around concept albums and she, too, feels that this is her most commercial album because of its uptempo nature.
"I always wanted to do the "Caught Op" things but it wasn't until I started producing myself with Brad Shapiro that I had the kind of control to do something like that," Millie says. "But this time, we just happened to have enough strong, uptempo material to do something different because that, too, was something I have wanted to do for quite a while.
"You know, it is very hard to find uptempo songs that also have something to say. Usually, they concentrate on making people dance and nothing else but I have been very fortunate this time."
Millie's involvement in producing has also led to the emergence of the Facts of Life, who have had two hit albums and a string of successful singles on Brad Shapiro's Kayvette Label.
"I also just cut some sides, on Eddie McLoyd (who used to be on Brunswick) and we signed him to Spring," Millie points out. "And, by the way, I just signed a new three years contract with Spring that also has two one-year options so you can discard anything you hear about me moving to any other company."
Millie is presently working on a completely new stage show and it promises to be something special.
"It's almost like a mini-musical that is built around the concept of the album, "Get It Out Cha System"," she explains. "I am also featuring the Moments and a ventriloquist called Starvin' Marvin - he's a black guy with a white dummy. And there are dancers, and background singers and all kinds of stage settings.
"Yes, it is easily the most ambitious thing I have ever done but I feel that now I am ready. The tour opens up on August 11 and it'll go to as many cities that want it and I'll stay on the road as long as I am booked.
"There will also be a trip back to Europe this November but I can't see the budget allowing me to take the whole show over there - though I wish I could!"
Well, that just about brings us up-to-date with Millie…