Released in 1969 The Real Barbara McNair was the second and final album Motown released on Barbara McNair. McNair was one of the most versatile female singers of that era, able to move with ease from fully-orchestrated showtunes to supper-club torch songs and then to Motown. Despite the exceptional quality of the product, Motown was unable to turn McNair into a hitmaker. My guess is that McNair's bourgeois, uptown image was a turn-off to 60s audiences who hungered for more earthy divas like Aretha, Gladys or the three girls from Detroit's Brewster projects. As per usual, McNair is in fine vocal form on The Real Barbara McNair. She proves that she can ride a groove with the very best on a stunning version of Smokey Robinson's "If You Can Want" which is just as good as the original. Displaying a facility for interpreting Smokey Robinson tunes, McNair puts a sultry spin on "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game", originally recorded by the Marvelettes; it's a great song that benefits from the more sparse arrangement and mature vocal. One of my personal favorites is the high-pitched "You Could Never Love Him (Like I Love Him)"; on top of incredibly square, Patti Page-esque backing vocals, McNair (over-)emotes like a woman possessed. McNair also turns in classy performances of Motown classics like "I Hear A Symphony" and "When I'm Gone". The driving, rhythmic arrangement of "What Now My Love" is not an ideal showcase for either song or singer. Overall, this was an outstanding, well-produced set.
Side 1 Where Would I Be Without You You Could Never Love Him (Like I Love Him) Who Invented Heartache The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' Forget You Ever Met Me Baby
Side 2 I Hear A Symphony When I'm Gone What Now My Love It Happens Every Time Just One Drop (From A Broken Heart) If You Can Want