Side Effect Side Effect / What You Need

Side Effect are undoubtedly best known for their evergreen version of Ronnie Laws’ "Always There.” At first listen, these two albums sound like everything that started to go wrong with jazz funk by the mid-’70s — impeccable but sweat-less production, with tunes that sound like academic exercises in funk. This was certainly the main criticism that could be levelled against producer Wayne Henderson’s well-known, vapid jazz ensemble, the Crusaders, and is confirmed with liner notes that use as much marketing as musical terminology to describe the band. There’s nothing wrong with Side Effect’s self-titled original album, and though the liner notes name-check P-Funk and the Ohio Players, their debut contains none of the distinctive and sometimes bumpy elements of their contemporaries’ greater artistic achievement. What You Need is a much better effort and the main reason to purchase this disc. "Always There” and their version of "Keep That Same Old Feeling” are the standouts from this album, and throughout, the bebop elements (check out "Honky Tonk Scat”) come to the fore. Lead singer Helen Lowe is a dynamic vocalist who ensures these songs don’t fade into the background. (Fantasy)