Since hearing the incredible title track of this compilation some years ago, Gloria Ann Taylor has been one of those artists we were desperate to find more material from, but it remained elusive. The 12″ version of Love is a Hurtin’ Thing is an epic blend of psychedelic guitars, huge sounding strings and gospel-inspired soulful vocals that combines all the best elements of early 70s music and turns them into way more than the sum of their parts. Trying to track down more led only to poor quality YouTube versions of a couple of other singles, which of course added to the mystique; another single, Deep Inside You allegedly became one of the rarest and most expensive disco 12″s ever sold on Discogs.
Now though, Ubiquity Records‘ Luv N’Haight imprint have released this compilation, and it doesn’t disappoint. Love is a Hurtin’ Thing is assembled from singles released on Taylor’s own label Selector Sounds, formed with her then husband, and producer Walter Whisenhunt.
In short, this record is absolutely wonderful and is available to download on iTunes here.
And now to the sleeve notes by Ubiquity’s Andrew Jervis:
Soul singer Gloria Ann Taylor has no rags to riches tale to tell. Her story is one of personal sacrifice, failed relationships, and missed opportunity. She was leading a hard knock life before being swept-up by the flash and promise of a marriage and business partnership with a successful record producer. She would be nominated for a Grammy, rub shoulders with James Brown and Bootsy Collins, and turn heads from Motown. But in the end she rejected professional singing, the music business, and the lifestyle that came with it. Thankfully for music lovers, before Gloria closed the doors on her singing career, she left us with some amazing soul songs. Deeply shaded by gospel roots, her haunting sound clearly comes from the gut. Gloria did not fake the funk.
Gloria was a partial owner of the Selector Sounds label, along with her husband/producer Walter Whisenhunt (previously a right-hand man to James Brown), and her brother Leonard. They released five Gloria Taylor singles between 1971 and 1977. They also released the three-song Deep Inside You EP, under the name Gloria Ann Taylor and Walter Whisenhunt’s Orchestra. In the studio Whisenhunt would work up a unique musical brew that mixed northern soul with exotic percussion and fuzzy psychedelic guitars. He moved Gloria through a range of tempos and stylings from ballads to disco. Her gritty vocal performance was set to orchestral arrangements creating a juxtaposition of grandeur and solace. The pinnacle of their collaborations has to be the jaw-droppingly epic EP version of “Love Is a Hurting Thing”; a chugging, string-laden disco track, that sounds like proto-Theo Parrish.