ALBUM OF THE MONTH
FIVE REASONS TO LISTEN:
- First album by one of Motown’s most celebrated songwriters/producers, featuring material mostly composed with husband Nick Ashford.
- Vocal style mirroring Diana Ross, with “penetratingly soulful slurring of melodic lines,” according to The New York Times.
- “Can’t It Wait Until Tomorrow” and “Now That There’s You,” songs first heard on Diana Ross’ solo debut LP in 1970.
- “Love Woke Me Up This Morning,” previously recorded by Brenda Holloway and Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell.
- Valerie’s gospel music roots, with Grammy-nominated “There Is A God” written by Andrew Cooper, whom she called “a gentleman from our church.”
FOUR FAST FACTS
- Original release date: May 1971.
- Top 30 on the Billboard R&B album charts.
- Liner notes by Diana Ross: “The only word for this album is fantastic!”
- LP cover name-checks all the musicians – one of the first Motown releases to do this, at the same time as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.
FULL TRACK LISTING:
- Some of the album was recorded in 1969, the year before Val (and Nick) set to work on the all-important debut solo album by Diana Ross. The ex-Supreme recorded “Can’t It Wait Until Tomorrow” and “Now That There’s You” for Diana Ross, released in June 1970. Eleven months later, Valerie’s own versions appeared on Exposed, and “Can’t It Wait Until Tomorrow” was also issued as a 45 in July 1971.
- About Diana’s endorsement of Exposed, Valerie told music writer Charles Waring, “When in doubt, get a famous name. She did it because we had a relationship and Motown figured that if you put a famous name on there saying something, it would help.”
- Among those identified as playing on Exposed were Motown musicians James Jamerson (bass); Uriel Jones and Andrew Smith (drums); Dennis Coffey, Robert White and Joe Messina (guitars); Johnny Griffith and Leonard Caston (electric piano); Jack Ashford and Jack Brokensha (percussion). Val played piano herself, and the album arranger was Paul Riser.
- Background voices are those of Val, Nick and their pre-Motown writing partner, Joshie (Jo) Armstead. The trio had previously written songs cut by the Apollas, Maxine Brown, Chuck Jackson, Mitty Collier and Ray Charles, among others. Ray’s 1966 hit, “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” drew Motown’s attention to their work.
- “There Is A God” was recorded in 2002 by The Detroit Experiment, a jazz/electronic collaboration featuring such Motor City musicians as trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, who had also been a Motown session player, and violinist Regina Carter.
- The final track on Exposed is Valerie’s version of the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out,” which had also attracted Stevie Wonder’s attention the previous year for his Signed Sealed & Delivered album. “I loved this song,” explained Valerie, “but certainly didn’t want to do it the way it had been done.”
“Being at Motown was just the best time ever, really. It’s just a shame that a place like that doesn’t exist today. It was competitive and it was fun: it was just the best learning and growing experience” – Valerie Simpson, in the liner notes of the 2015 reissue of Exposed by Caroline/Soul Music.
“When I first saw [Val and Nick], they both seemed warm and quiet. While that held true, I later found out Valerie was a pint-sized ball of dynamite, especially when working in the studio” – Berry Gordy, in To Be Loved, his autobiography.
VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE TRACK ON THE ALBUM:
Producers: Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.
Songwriters: Nickolas Ashford, Andrew Cooper, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Valerie Simpson.
Pre-makes: “Love Woke Me Up This Morning” (Brenda Holloway, 1967, unissued until 2005; Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, 1969), “Can’t It Wait Until Tomorrow” (Diana Ross, 1970), “Now That There’s You” (Diana Ross, 1970).
Re-makes: “I Just Wanna Be There” (Ed Robinson, 1971), “There Is A God” (Thelma Houston, 1972; The Detroit Collective, 2002), “Love Woke Me Up This Morning” (The Temptations, 1972; Walter Jackson, 1976), “Can’t It Wait Until Tomorrow” (Peaches & Herb, 1973).