Gladys Knight & The Pips, A Little Knight Music, Soul S6-744, 1975
Despite the clever title, the “new” Gladys Knight & The Pips album that hit the stores in the spring of 1975 was anything but new. The group, tired of the lack of interest the company was showing in their career, left in 1971 for more creative freedom and a better royalties arrangement. It was a really smart move, with sales doubling and Grammy after Grammy, they were the best selling artists of 1974.
One of the issues many Motown artists had with the company came form the fact that their contracts called for all recording costs to come out of a groups Royalties. Since it didn’t cost them anything, Motown kept the studios open around the clock and artists would be told to record as many songs as possible, whether or not they had any merit, let alone a chance to be released. But the time GK&TP left, they had a massive back catalogue of unreleased songs that Motown controlled. This album was actually the third post departure release the company issued. One big tip off that these are old recordings are the three cover songs (including a really bizarre version of The Beatles’ Come Together) were all hits in 1969. A better one is that while Motown controlled the music, they didn’t control the group’s image, and putting out an album in 1975 with the group dressed in the far out fashions of the late 60s would immediately send it to the bargain rack. So Motown came up with a logo design for the group that makes the Pips look like a minstrel act and “Gladys” look like Diana Ross from Lady Sings The Blues. I’m sure that went over really well with the real Gladys, perhaps original owner “Bob” didn’t mind…
Unfortunately, while I checked to see the record in the jacket was the one that was supposed to in there, I didn’t pull it out all the way to see the burn/warp mark on it. It renders the first song on both sides unplayable. Luckily though, the rest of the album, including the wonderful Pip-centric version of Sugar Sugar, plays fine.
This was the last of the Pips albums to come out on Motown’s Soul label. Actually, it was the last Soul album to hit the charts. There were seven more releases, mostly by Jr. Walker & The All Stars, before the label ended in 1978. So, in that regard, this is a pretty interesting record to find. I’ll keep looking for a better one.
Cost: $2, $472 Remaining