The group Milt Matthews Inc was signed to Ember in 1971 for one album For The People (NR 5056), which had been released in the USA on the Catalyst label. The album was an era piece that sought to span musical genres and appeal to both soul and rock fans, with powerful vocals in the Otis Redding mould and a lead guitarist who had obviously studied Jimi Hendrix. It was produced in New York by Beau Ray Fleming with the strings overdubs arranged by Bert “Super Charts” DeCoteaux. Milt sang lead vocals, played rhythm guitar and wrote the original songs.
The remainder of this interracial band comprised his brother Carl Matthews on bass, Norman Harrison on electric piano, piano and organ, Randall Burney on lead guitar and drummer Tommy Byrd. The opening track is an extended workout on B.B. King’s 1970 hit ‘The Thrill Has Gone’ with a menacing string arrangement provided by DeCoteaux, who had also embellished B.B.’s version. The bluesy ‘Can’t See Myself Doing You Wrong’ is the first of Milt’s compositions and features strong backing vocals, possibly by the Sweet Inspirations. Artists in the seventies frequently included a Beatles cover on their albums, Milt’s choice was to apply some funk to ‘Hard Day’s Night’ supported by outstanding fuzz guitar from Randall. ‘Oh Lord (You Gotta Help Me)’, another Matthews song, is a fine pleading soul ballad with tasteful strings and girl group sweetening. ‘Runaway People’ had been an R&B charter for Dyke & The Blazers the year before and Milt adds some screams that Dyke would have been proud of. Probably Milt’s best love song, ‘That’s The Way I Feel (Like A Burning Fire)’ also has the benefit of Burney’s scorching fuzz interjections. A plea for peace and love, ‘Disaster Area’ was much in the psychedelic soul style of the Dennis Edwards-led Temptations at the time.
The closing selection is a sympathetic cover of ‘Presence Of The Lord’, Eric Clapton’s song from his tenure in the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith. Ember opted for striking new black and white artwork and a gatefold sleeve when they released the album and Fantastic Voyage has lovingly reproduced that presentation for CD reissue. The child-like cartoon cover of the American version will be displayed in the booklet, along with new sleeve notes.
- The Thrill Is Gone (Milt Matthews Inc)
- Can't See Myself Doing You Wrong (Milt Matthews Inc)
- Hard Day's Night (Milt Matthews Inc)
- Oh Lord (You Gotta Help Me) (Milt Matthews Inc)
- Runaway People (Milt Matthews Inc)
- That's The Way I Feel (Like A Burning Fire) (Milt Matthews Inc)
- Disaster Area (Milt Matthews Inc)
- Presence Of The Lord (Milt Matthews Inc)