Consumer Guide Album
Billy Paul: 360 Degrees of Billy Paul [Philadelphia International, 1973]
At his worst, Paul is black naturalness at its most mannered--florid, hyped up, homiletic, sort of a Les McCann of small-time jazz singers. But Gamble and Huff have been making great music out of middlebrow jazz for years, and when they give Paul a good song--several of the black-consciousness riffs, which G&H seem to turn out as if they were so many follow-ups to "Tighten Up," are better than "Me and Mrs. Jones"--his overstatement is no more offensive than Ray Charles's. On stupid, unrealistic songs (e.g., "I'm Just a Prisoner") he sounds stupid and unrealistic, which figures.