LP released: Nov 24, 2023

Side A
1. Hot Heels 2:50
2. It's Gospel 2:49
3. Steam Heat 2:59
4. Fly Away 2:45
5. His Name Was 2:35
6. Swing Over 2:18
7. Touch Of Warmth 2:40
Side B
1. Voice Force Nine 2:13
2. Very Fine Fellow 1:58
3. Shades-tones 3:27
4. I'm Feather 2:09
5. Drifting 2:24
6. Take Off 1:58
7. Fly Paradise 2:18

Vocal Shades And Tones is a miraculous leftfield library classic from the genius
mind of celebrated UK composer/singer/vocal arranger Barbara Moore. It's a
heavenly groove-based blend of jazz, Latin, soft-psych, folk-funk and gospel
soul. Recorded for the legendary Music De Wolfe in 1972, it's an audacious
start-to-finish listen, as dizzying as it is dazzling. It's a perfect snapshot
of a musical era, supported by Moore's glorious vocal arrangements. Widely
regarded among collectors, DJs, and lounge/easy-listening acolytes as an
absolute essential it is viewed as the holy grail by many production music
heads, rarely appearing for sale and disappearing in a flash when it does.
Indeed, originals now go for over £300 and it's easy to see why. Just one of the
reasons why this fresh Be With reissue, part of a wider De Wolfe reissue
campaign, is so utterly crucial.
Racing out the gate, the driving "Hot Heels" is a bright, sophisticated scat
groove which sounds Brazilian, richly produced as if coming by the hand of
Arthur Verocai. Yes, *that* good. It's followed by "It's Gospel" which is, er, a
wonderfully slow and deeply soulful gospel treasure. The appropriately monikered
"Steam Heat" is a darker, breathy gem, one for salacious crates and one of the
record's most infamous tracks. "Fly Away" is pastoral West Coast soft rock, very
much in conversation with John Cameron and Keith Mansfield's epochal KPM
recording, Voices In Harmony. "His Name Was" is a stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks
Beach Boys accapella church-organ stunner, whilst "Swing Over" is another
carefree, richly produced sun-dappled smasher. The gentle Bossa and sunshine
soul of the aptly-titled "Touch Of Warmth" closes out a virtually perfect
The B-Side opens with the easy grace and dramatic build of "Voice Force Nine".
The jaunty "Very Fine Fellow" may be the only track to slightly grate so we
advise heading to the slower, moody "Shades-Tones", eminently more compelling
with sparkling, hypnotic piano throughout, underpinning the gorgeous wordless
vocals. Just beautiful. It was sampled by Redman for his Method Man-featuring
"Do What Ya Feel" on the great Muddy Waters. We're back in Brazilian territory
with the cool, uptempo "I'm Feather" before swooning to the warm, relaxed
"Drifting", another total highlight which was famously sampled by Koushik on his
legendary remix of Madvillain's "America's Most Blunted (Doom's Verse)". The
penultimate track, "Take Off" is a bright, organ lounge groove before this
remarkable set is rounded out by the beaty "Fly Paradise". It's so so good, it
sounds like Rotary Connection fronted by The Mamas & the Papas. As noted in a
recent Guardian article on Moore's life, "there is a plushness and electricity
in the tight vocal harmonies that spring out, sung with the precision of
cathedral choristers decades before Auto-Tune." Amen.
In the 1960s, Barbara Moore was a member of Top of the Pops’ resident
vocal-harmony group, The Ladybirds and sang backing vocals for Dusty
Springfield’s TV show. Her own outfit, the Barbara Moore Singers, were regulars
on TOTP, singing with Jimi Hendrix when he performed "Hey Joe" live in Lime
Grove Studios. An important detail for Moore was the shepherd’s pie she bought
Hendrix when she found him alone, looking emaciated, near the BBC canteen. By
1970, she was working as a session singer for De Wolfe and, by 1972, was
composing her own tracks for De Wolfe and working within their tight creative
strictures. Each short track had to evoke an obvious mood and theme, with no
significant key or tempo changes. Her response, this very album, managed to stay
between the lines while cohering as an overarching artistic masterpiece.
The audio for Vocal Shades And Tones has been carefully remastered by Be With
regular Simon Francis, ensuring this release sounds better than ever. Cicely
Balston's expert skills have made sure nothing is lost in the cut whilst the
records have been pressed to the highest possible standard at Record Industry in
Holland. The original, iconic sleeve has been restored here at Be With HQ as the
finishing touch to this long overdue re-issue.