Della Reese – Compared To What

Della Reese – Compared To What from the AVCO Embassy 45

Well here we are midweek, and back to the business of some record reviews. Thanks for the great responses and comments from the last mix with Devil Dick. I also have a bit of a good news. I got an e mail from Gary Van Scyoc, the bassist and vocalist from the Dynatones. He’s going to add on some stuff that I wrote about in my Dynatones review. He said he wants the real story of the band to get out. We’re going to do an interview, as well as get a few photos of the band that will be a second part to “The Fife Piper” review I did a few weeks ago. It should be very exciting. Also, out own Connie T. Empress of the 45 Sessions will be on the Dave the Spazz show on WFMU this Thursday, Novemember 15th from 8pm to 11pm. Please tune in (you can listen online), I’m sure there will be some AP 45 Sessions banter going around, along with some great music as well. Show her some support and listen in!

This next side definitely excites me for a couple of reasons. It excited me so much that I rushed it to the top of the que, it was just that good. One, it’s a version of a favorite song of mine, and two, it was a cheap find. I did, however, have to stand in freezing temperatures to get it (while another dealer hit the pile before me, buying about 30+ records he’s probably gonna sell back to me), but that’s the thrill of the chase. Freezing temps, blazing heat, dusty spaces, that all goes with the territory. The things we all do for records. I’ll do whatever it takes to uncover these records. Let’s jump into “Compared to What” by Della Reese on the AVCO/Embassy Label.

Deloreese Patircia Early aka Della Reese was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1931. Heavily involved in the church and Gospel music, she was noticed by Gospel great Mahalia Jackson, and was recruited by the singer to be a part of her ensemble. She stayed for three years with the band age 13 and later went on to form her own group, “The Meditation Singers”. Her father became seriously ill, and her mother passed, so that forced Della to provide for the family. She worked odd jobs before getting into a talent contest that woul be her calling. Winning said talent contest at The Flame Show Bar eight weeks in a row helped her get noticed even more, and in 1953 moved to New York City. She signed a contract with Jubilee Records (where she scored the million seller hit “And That Reminds Me”), and was on her way. Along that way she would record for RCA, and release a cross section of different genres of music, from Jazz to Standards, to Blues, Gospel, Contemporary Pop and the like. She would go on to perform in Las Vegas and also tour the country extensively, adding to her popularity. Reese would also be involved in a new thing called television, making appearances on many talk shows (even hosting her own called Della). Her television resume is quite long, and the natural progression towards movies was evident. Remember the scene in Harlem Nights when she whoops up on Eddie Murphy? It doesn’t stop there either. She’s an author of children’s books, and put out her autobiography as well. Honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Reese is a true pioneer of all her crafts.

“Compared To What” is from the 1970 record Black Is Beautiful. An upbeat piece of Funky Soul, here is a great example of the adaptation of older artists to the times. Her take on this protest song is really great, and although more upbeat than the popular versions, is still a great side. She ran out of the gate with this thing, and did it in her own way, to the sound of the times. The most famous version ( and my favorite) of this song (written by Gene Daniels) was by Eddie Harris and Les McCann from their Swiss Movement Lp. If you don’t own it, I say please go out and get a copy. Della is spot on in her version too, and if you do see this, by all means pick the 45 up, especially if it is 25 cents. I’ll be back on Friday with more goodness from the crates here at FleaMarket Funk. Keep Diggin!!

5 responses to “Della Reese – Compared To What

  1. Yeah, I LOVE Della’s version. She’s so sassy when she hit’s the title line. I’ve got the “Black Is Beautiful” LP, but the 45 has been a bit elusive. It’s certainly amazing how your perception of an artist can change with one record. I would have never thought of buying a Della record. I first heard it when PJ dropped it on Galactic Fractures and that was it. Those days seem like a lifetime ago as the mad pimping that goes on in the world of blogging of ALL kinds of artists has been something quite special for me. Thanks so much Pres as this spot has certainly been a major part of keeping my eyes and ears open for new sounds. Dig IT!

    Peace and SOUL,

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