MANSION - Devil Woman (1976) 2017

by Mansion

supported by
nicholas hamnett
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nicholas hamnett With a singer who doesn't always hit the notes, and has pretty average vocal qualities, a band who sound just the right side of enthusiastic teenagers playing their local youth club.There's a power and charm in this music that I find utterly disarming, and so much more soulful than a lot of the highly polished music of today.

It is largely due to that rawness and the basic production qualities employed here that I feel that way.It is the band: the humans and the songs they are singing that shine.

There's an almost plaintive ache to John Ebiong's singing which so many of today's female vocalist especially, try, with quite incredible vertuosity to attain, as they warble, Whitney like, up and down the scales, perfectly hitting every note, with every breath capured then purified to digital perfection, by the millions of dollars of studio time spent on them by savvy label chiefs and their even savvier producers.And there's not even to mention the vile vocoder, which is so omnipresent these days I'm convinced kids think that weird android warble is how a natural human singing voice
sounds.Yet all that does nothing for me.In fact I find it irritating.Like someone took Radio One's entire output, turned it into a silicon breast and forgot to put the skin back on.

Mansion, to be fair, are much better than I may have suggested.And all the looseness in their playing and
the lack of sparkling studio desk-work are just further testament to that.Any imperfections are perfect.
Though we might pass over the startling resemblence of at least one of the tracks to a certain Hanson's "MMM Bop."

The organ playing on this album is so hot I wanted to break out the ice creams put on plastic star glasses and enjoy all that sun!

This was an EMI album originally.But it seems the much admired producer chosen to work with the band knew that "hands-off" was the best approach when looking for that something special.
Things may have been simpler back then in the seventies, but not everything tasted like chicken.

So, before we do finally turn ourselves into cyborgs, let us remember how good the plain old human can be when left alone. We may need a little help from technology from time to time, but if we are worth our salt at all, not an awful lot. Favorite track: The Great Question.
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about

PMG057

℗ 1976 Mansion
℗ + © 2017 Presch Media GmbH

The eastern Nigerian city of Calabar in Cross River State was colloquially known as Canaan City – a place of lush landscapes, alluring women and delicious cooking. When the Biafra War ended it became a land of milk and honey for bands as well, with jumping venues like the Taj Mahal and Luna Nite Club and a label called Clover, set up local entrepreneur Ben Okonkwo, releasing albums by bands like The Doves, The Visitors, Aktion and The Apostles. The youngest band on the Clover roster was Mansion, a teenage highlife group, led by singer and bassist John ‘Holy Mountain’ Ebiong. Okonkwo decked them out in flares, repackaged them as a funk band and put them in the studio with EMI super-producer, Kayode Salami. The result was Devil Woman, an astoundingly assured funk/rock album. The title track revels in a ‘60s psychedelic vibe. ‘The Love Song’ is a direct appeal to teenage hearts. ‘Heaven Here On Earth’ has an irresistible shuffling groove while ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ is what James Brown would have sounded like if he’d been born in the Cross River State. Devil Woman is an album designed to set young hearts aflutter and draw approving nods from seasoned musicians. It succeeds in both. - Peter Moore

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released April 10, 2017

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