Want To Be Free

Deniece Williams is one of those people who has a knack for finding opportunities and making the most of them. She managed to meet Stevie Wonder backstage at a concert and ended up with an audition and a paying gig in the group Wonderlove. A couple years later, she met Maurice White, then at the peak of his powers in the band Earth, Wind & Fire. With his help — and instrumentation from other players in Earth, Wind & Fire — Williams recorded her debut album, This Is Niecy.  It’s immaculately produced late-70s funk, with every flicker of guitar, twirl of electric keyboard, and muted horn toot sounding perfectly clear. Once the lead single, “Free,” gets going, Williams keeps working to get airborne as the thick pound of the rhythm section (maybe D’Angelo built around that heavy, bass-laden plod when he recorded “Feel Like Makin’ Love“?) tries to bring things back down to earth. Love the vibraphone action.

 

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