Rich Man’s Woman is the first album by Elkie Brooks.
Brooks’ first solo album was released in 1975 in a blaze of publicity and a promotional week at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. Recorded as a rock album in the vein of her work with Vinegar Joe, A&M Records were unhappy with the direction and decided to tone the album down, producing unsatisfactory results and an album in which Brooks lost faith. The picture sleeve featuring a semi-naked Brooks caused outrage at the time and remains controversial.
Despite an initial marketing campaign, both A&M and Elkie decided to stop promoting the work and to focus on her follow-up album, Two Days Away. (by wikipedia)
For more years than it would be polite to recall, Elkie Brooks has been too much of an underground heroine among students of lady rock singers. Now, at long last, she has delivered the album which can shoot her to international acclaim, and establish her, finally, as perhaps the finest rock singer Britain has produced.
Long before Vinegar Joe, itself a fine band, Elkie paid her dues as a jazz singer in various bands, and now the years of experience, together with her unique power, reaches fruition with a simply stunning album.
But power, so often the only asset of lady rockers, is not played up by Elkie to the detriment of her intrinsic bluesy feeling. She has always displayed taste, even as a bawdy rocker, and taste is the hallmark of this immaculately-produced album.
To make it, Elkie went to Los Angeles and received accompaniment from some inspired musicians, and some immensely careful production by Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise, who have been closely connected with Gladys Knight’s records. The result: nine tracks without one duff moment.
The opener, “Where Do We Go From Here (Rich Man’s Woman)”, is one of five written by Elkie – another aspect of her progression – and gets the album off to a startling momentum. It’s a rock track with fine control, and never goes over the top, which could easily have happened; it also has a fine hook-line.
“Roll Me Over” is an example of Elkie’s jazz leanings, and “One Step On The Ladder” is a bright commentary on what is happening to her at this moment. “Try A Little Loving” shows her tender songwriting capabilities, as well as her imaginative sense of delivery.
But “Jigsaw Baby” is the absolute high spot on this album. The aforementioned Brooks-written songs come nowhere near this gem – a richly-experienced piece, again autobiographical, with a delightful melody line. Her singing is superb here, and contains the sort of inflections that could only come from an artist grounded in jazz, because the pace of the song is so hard to control.
Alternate front + back cover
Leo Sayer’s “Tomorrow” gets a vital new treatment, and she has a stab at “He’s A Rebel” – an unfortunate choice, but we’ll let that one pass. The vocal backings are excellent, and include Clydie King and Venetta Fields plus Jim Gilstrap.
The track record of female rock singers through the years has been fairly bleak, but this goes a long way to redress the balance. It will stand as one of the finest albums of the year. Patriotism, I know, is the last refuge of the scoundrel, but this time, go and buy British.
At least it was made in the States. Seriously – an exceptional album, (Melody Maker, November 1975 )
And “Where Do We Go From Here (Rich Man’s Woman) ” is one of the best songs Elkie Brooks ever recorded !
Elkie Brooks (vocals)
Steve Burgh (guitar)
Bruce Foster (keyboards)
David Kemper (drums)
Dennis Kovarik (bass)
Ben Benay (guitar)
Max Bennett (bass)
Mike Boddicker (synthesizer)
Alan Estes (percussion)
Gene Estes (percussion)
John Guerin (drums)
David Paich (keyboards)
Nino Tempo (saxophone)
Stan Farber – Venetta Fields – Gerry Garrett – Jim Gilstrap – Ron Hicklin – Clydie King – Gene Marford – Verlene Rogers – Jenny Whitman
01. Where Do We Go From Here (Rich Man’s Woman) (Brooks) 3.45
02. Take Cover (Brown/Lloyd) 3.03
03. Jigsaw Baby (Brooks/Foster) 5.18
04. Roll Me Over (Brooks) 3.02
05. He’s A Rebel (Pitney) 2.55
06. One Step On The Ladder (Brooks) 5.24
07. Rock And Roll Circus (Segarini) 4.21
08. Try A Little Love (Brooks) 3.54
09. Tomorrow (Courtney/Sayer) 3.59