[Review] Joan Armatrading: Show Some Emotion (1977)

Another brilliant album that shows a ton of emotion.

Kronomyth 4.0: Willow won’t you be my baby?

This is an even better showcase for her multi-faceted musical talents than her last album, and that album was stunning. Again produced by Glyn Johns but now featuring a wider cast of characters, Show Some Emotion includes two of her best songs, “Show Some Emotion” and “Willow,” and strong material from end to end that tries out a variety of styles. At this stage, the comparison to other artists is meaningless as Joan Armatrading has entered an incomparable state. There isn’t another artist who moves so gracefully and confidently between ballads, rockers, reggae and blues, or would lead an album off with a vulnerable song like “Woncha Come On Home” and then sucker punch you with “Show Some Emotion.”

Her last album was a leap forward in terms of musicality, yet Show Some Emotion feels even more saturated in sound. Much of the credit goes to Glyn Johns, who assembled a stellar backing band for Joan that re-used a few familiar parts (Jerry Donahue, Brian Rogers) and added Georgie Fame, Bryan Garofalo, David Kemper and others to the mix. Given the right musical accompaniment, Joan’s compositions soar.

Although I did say that comparisons no longer applied, the presence of Georgie Fame did get me thinking about Van Morrison and the great musical support he’s had over the years. Like Van, Joan needs to make an emotional connection for her music to truly work, and that can sometimes be daunting given the complexity of her music. In the right hands, it runs like a graceful tiger. Even when Joan slows down on this record, the stride is perfectly paced, the steps perfectly placed, and happy are the hunted.

Original elpee version

A1. Woncha Come On Home (2:39)
A2. Show Some Emotion (3:25)
A3. Warm Love (3:02)
A4. Never Is Too Late (4:25)
A5. Peace In Mind (3:20)
B1. Opportunity (3:22)
B2. Mama Mercy (2:48)
B3. Get In The Sun (3:20)
B4. Willow (4:54)
B5. Kissin’ And A Huggin’ (4:42)

All selections written by Joan Armatrading.

The Players

Joan Armatrading (vocals, acoustic guitar, thumb piano, acoustic piano, lead acoustic guitar), Jerry Donahue (electric guitar, lead acoustic guitar, slide guitar), Georgie Fame (Rhodes), Bryan Garofalo (bass), David Kemper (drums) with Pete Clarke (backing vocals), Mel Collins (saxophone), Tim Hinkley (organ, piano), Kenney Jones (drums), Dave Markee (bass), Rabbitt (organ), Brian Rogers (string arrangements, conductor), Joe Scott (backing vocals), Henry Spinetti (drums). Produced and engineered by Glyn Johns.

The Pictures

Sleeve photography by David Montgomery. Design by Nick Marshall.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track in October 1977 in the UK and the Netherlands (A&M, AMLH/CAM 68433), the US and Canada (A&M, SP/CS/8T 4663), Australia (A&M, L36300) and Yugoslavia (RTB, LP5728) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #6 on the UK charts and #52 on the US charts.

  1. Re-packaged with My, Myself, I on 2-for-1 cassette in 1982 in the UK (A&M, CAM CR010).
  2. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in 1984 in the US (A&M, SP/CS 3273).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (A&M, CD 3273).
  4. Re-released on remastered compact disc in Germany (A&M, 394633) and on January 25, 2005 in the US (A&M, 213273).

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