I don’t think there are many female singers whose career started in the 70s that I’d rather listen to than Louise Freeman. Right from her first 45 she displayed such controlled passion in her voice, so much conviction in her phrasing with such a lovely tone that many other singers could only listen and marvel. Since all her recordings were made in Georgia I guess that’s where she came from, but I can’t be sure.
Her first 45s were issued on Shout, and they contained more than a couple of quite exceptional sides. How Can I Forget was a nicely worked melodic country soul ballad, with some really intense vocals, with just a hint of Aretha Franklin in the manner in which Louise attacked the lyric. Even better was the similarly styled Tell Me A Lie one of the very best of the 70s mix of country and soul. Most soul fans will be familiar with Bettye Lavette’s wonderful interpretations for Motown, and the song was aslo covered by Baby Washington for AVI and Jackie Moore for Atlantic (unissued sadly but around on an acetate) but Freeman is in no way embarrassed in this company. Her version is really well delivered, with a top quality sense of dynamics in Louise’s gospel drenched delivery. And of course the song is so good that it just begs for a performance like this. How Could You Run Away, another delicately arranged ballad completes a fine trio of deep soul winners. A special tip of the hat to arranger/producer Archie Jordan.
The producer of Freeman’s second Shout single was Jerry Weaver, a well known and talented songwriter and singer most closely associated with Neil Hemphill’s Sound Of Birmingham set up in Alabama, whose own recordings are well worthwhile investigating. She stayed with Weaver for her only outing on Playboy, both sides of which he wrote, and both of which are right in that deep soul bag that she was so comfortable in. He’s Making Love To You has some tasteful double tracked vocals, on top of a fine southern soul arrangement. But the pick has to be Save Your Love a simply wonderful slice of the deepest soul you could imagine. There’s a lovely blue tinge to the construction of the song, and the meandering tenor sax that accompanies Louise’s sensational vocal is a welcome touch. Sheer class. Nice to see Major Lance get a name check as co-producer.
After that 45 there was a break of more than a decade before “Signed Sealed And Delivered” and “Lonely Christmas” appeared and even though the synths are a bit much for me, Louise’s voice has lost none of its tremendous range and emotional strength. The yuletide number in particular is a high quality effort. With such a long break before these tracks it was a treat to see Freeman’s first, and so far only, CD come out only a couple of years later. And I’m pleased to be able to say that there were several highly rated cuts.
“Listen To My Heart” was produced by the KALA team of Buzz Amato and Jimmy O’Neill in Atlanta, using the usual Ichiban rhythm section from the city. “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” is another highly effective country soul number, and “Love Is Gone” is an uptown ballad of considerable power. But my favourite track is a recut of “Save Your Love” which just fails to capture the magic of the original but is still wonderful.
And since that release nothing further has been heard on record from Louise Freeman. And given the paucity of quality real soul in the world is nothing short of a tragedy.
Tell me a lie / How can I forget ~ SHOUT 303 (1974)
How could you run away / I can do it (if I see it) ~ SHOUT 306 (1974)
He’s making love to you / Save your love ~ PLAYBOY 5815 (1977)
LOUISE FREEMAN & TERRY BLOUNT
Signed sealed delivered I’m yours / Extended play ~ SUN TOWN 714 (1989)
LOUISE FREEMAN feat J J’s CONNECTION
Lonely Christman / Inst ~ GOLD KEY 009 (1989)
Listen to my heart ~ ICHIBAN 1111 (1991)