Tasha Thomas possessed one of the finest voices in soul music. No surprise, then, that she became an in-demand session musician, working with everyone from Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder, and Louis Armstrong to Leslie West, Slade, and Kiss. Her first mainstream recognition came from her appearance as Auntie Em in the Broadway production of The Wiz. For someone as in-demand as she was, it wasn’t until the end of the decade that she stepped out as a solo artist, releasing her debut album, Midnight Rendezvous, in 1979.
Like many albums of the era, the record blended disco rhythms with more traditional, reserved R&B and pop stylings. The vinyl album format helped to organize the record: side one contained three disco numbers, while the rest of the album contained more refined fare. Though the power of that creative technique is lost when translated to CD, this expanded two-disc reissue doesn’t suffer too much from it. Two of those three songs, “Street Fever” and “Shoot Me (With Your Love),” would be minor chart hits, as well as playlist favorites in discos around the country, as would “Hot Buttered Boogie,” and the title track, an epic, relentless groove, also found its way into the heart of DJ’s across the land. (This reissue contains a second disc of remixes and single edits, and while the twelve inch version of “Shoot Me (With Your Love)” bests the album version, one might find this disc hit or miss in the necessity department.)
The rest of Midnight Rendezvous is equally gorgeous; the light and airy pop of “ You Put The Music In Me,” the loving romance of “You’re The One I Love (From Day To Day),” and the dark balladry of album-closing “Drinking Again” show Thomas’ versatile range, and that in spite of the disco nature of the first side of the album, a long promising career as a pop and soul singer was not out of the question.
Sadly, the world would be robbed of her voice a mere four years later, when she succumbed to cancer in 1984. That she left behind only one album of material is tragic, but the contents of Midnight Rendezvous are so delightful, the rare treat of her voice removes all tears with its good-time, feel-good (and occasionally bad) groove.
Midnight Rendezvous is available now via Soul Music Records
Categories: Album Reviews