By 1978, Natalie Cole had firmly established her place as a new and potent female voice in R&B music. She bested the sometimes jinx of winning the Grammy for Best New Artist by clocking 4 back-to-back Gold and Platinum albums beginning with 1975’s INSEPARABLE. With a voice that could rival Aretha’s best Atlantic days, she was definitely a force to be reckoned with.
And she was not only a studio creation; she delivered in her live performances. Her live album was recorded months apart at Universal Amphitheater and Latin Casino. In a generous hour and a half performance, her prowess on the stage would surely have made her father proud. She seemed to effortlessly blend the gospel fire with more soulful, urbane sounds. Songs like “Thankful”, “I’ve Got Love On My Mind” and “Our Love” were extended to capture an almost church-like fervor. On James Cleveland’s “Something’s Got A Hold On Me”, she glides over an organ and then pummels it into contrition; it makes one want to testify.
The effervescent “Mr. Melody” sounds like it was borne as a blend of a New Orleans and a Brill Building creation. And once again, her scatting must have placed a sweet grin on Nat’s face. For as much as she resisted being associated with her father’s legacy, performances like “Mr. Melody” instantly remind one of her pedigree. She starts out “This Will Be” in a similar manner. Her voice seems tailor-made for these two songs. “Lovers” also fits perfectly with these types of vocal arrangements.
During her formative years, she was in a rock/pop band. To that end, she references those days with a rather eclectic version of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. It is almost as wild as Tina Turner’s take on “The Acid Queen” from “Tommy”. One gets the feeling that the audiences are being introduced to an entirely different experience. She takes on the Garnett Mimms/Janis Joplin blues rocker, “Cry Baby”, with the same rock/gospel fervor.
It is clear that Natalie is in a wonderfully happy space as witnessed by her dedication of “Inseparable” to the 1st Anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Yancy (Natalie Cole and her husband). In 3 minutes, she conveys the joys and bliss of marriage.
This album pre-dated a dark period in Natalie’s personal life. So it is great to capture it in this setting. It would be the end of one era... and she is very much a star throughout the entire recordings.
About the Writer
K. Bonin has worked in the music industry for the last three decades. He describes himself as "a child of Motown and the classic rock era." Having spent the balance of his career at Arista Records, his experience and passion gives him a unique perspective on music and the music industry.