2023 reissue, 140g vinyl
Like the winged half-man/half-bull that dominates its outrageous cover, Cleveland Eaton's Half And Half is a mutant bass-heavy monster that absolutely slays. Incredible jazz-funk from 1973, it's been largely overlooked for decades, and unfairly so. This is just sensational music - a crate digger's delight. It's super funky throughout, with lots of layers, jazz breaks for days, dripping with style and gritty class. This is the first reissue of what has been a hard to find record for many years; it's long overdue. Joyous music for mind, soul and body.
Cleveland Eaton was a revered bassist who played an active role in the backing of Count Basie, the Donald Byrd Quintet, The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Terry Callier and Minnie Riperton; amongst many, many others. Half And Half was the first album released under his own name, initially released as a private press record on his - awkwardly named - Cle An Thair Records. It was then picked up by Gamble & Huff for Gamble Records. Varied, string-adorned and with stupid funky grooves, it's just exceptionally good.
Whilst Half And Half is treasured for its famously brilliant interpretations of gold funk-soul standards, Eaton proves an imaginative composer in his own right. Indeed, the album opens with a striking original; the earthy, laconic jazz-guitar-funk fusion of "Keep It Funky". Cleveland and co. do exactly that. Up next is a properly moving cover of Aretha Franklin's eternal "Day Dreaming". The flute and guitar combo truly achieve celestial greatness here. "Here Comes Funky Lou" rides a bassline from the Gods and a driving soul-jazz groove allows the track to go off in all sorts of directions. Serene guitar soul of the breezy variety one moment, crazy hectic violin-driven wig outs the next, courtesy of Ed Green who played with Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane.
His blistering two track salvo of Stylistics covers to close out this A-Side of A-Sides will leave your jaw dropped, and they're likely the reason you're here for this. And why not? "Betcha By Golly Wow", which uses a bed of acidy synths and harmonica to create a unique atmosphere, is on some next level business. Melancholic, wistful, beautiful. "People Make the World Go Round" is so good, dripping in wonderful horns and ace percussive breaks, it could even be regarded as the definitive version. Seriously!