Release Info: SHARON REDD, ULA HEDWIG, CHARLOTTE CROSSLEY / Formerly Of The Harlettes (1978)
This is a solo album by one of the early line-ups of the Harlettes, the tough sassy broads who back the legendary Bette Midler. The girls, Sharon Redd, Ula Hedwig and Charlotte Crossley, were legally prohibited (by Bette) from billing themselves as the Harlettes so they cheekily titled this album Formerly Of The Harlettes. This line-up can be seen backing The Divine Miss M on the 1976 concert aired on HBO (and released on video) as "The Bette Midler Show." Formerly Of The Harlettes was produced by David Rubinson, an excellent sign given his production work with Labelle and The Pointer Sisters (two of my three favorite girl groups). There are some great moments here but the album is bogged down with generic 70s pop-disco like "Put It Where You Want It" and "Cash In." "Roll Me Through The Rushes" is a lovely ballad with nice girl-group harmonies that probably could have been a single but unfortunately for them Chaka Khan's even more dynamic version of the song (with Cissy Houston on backing vocals) appeared the same year. The nearly 10-minute version of Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" is another stunner; although musically it's a departure from the vintage pop/disco pastiche of the rest of the album. "Maiden Voyage" features Hancock on electric piano and has a distinct 70s jazz/soul vibe, with harmonies that proved the girls had cross-genre potential. The standout here is the scintillating cover of the Motown classic "Does Your Mama Know About Me?", a swaying, sad love song with wonderful vocal interplay. The girls were the only incarnation of The Harlettes to record together and Formerly Of The Harlettes was their only commercially released album.
Can't Dance (Dance, Dance, Dance)
Ain't No Man Worth It
Roll Me Through The Rushes
Put It Where You Want It
Does Your Mama Know About Me
Now (Sweet Lover Man)