Randy Crawford Secret Combination Review

Released 1981.  

BBC Review

A delightful time-capsule, perfect for sunny Sunday mornings.

Daryl Easlea 2009

It is little wonder that Secret Combination remains Randy Crawford's most successful album in the UK. It is a superb collection of well-chosen material, expertly played by the cream of L.A session players and sung with great conviction.

Macon, Georgia-born Crawford had first risen to prominence in the UK as the featured vocalist on the Crusaders' Street Life in 1979, and enjoyed her first solo hit the following year with One Day I'll Fly Away. Secret Combination, released in May 1981, was the album that capitalised on this success.

Although Crawford had previously been an earthy jazz singer, Secret Combination barely breaks a sweat. Produced by Tommy LiPuma (the man responsible for turning George Benson from a jazzer into a commercial superstar) and it is consistently pleasant, radio-friendly pop-soul.

What bite there is can be found on lead single You Might Need Somebody, a Hollywood-softened dirty blues and the album's closer, Trade Winds. Crawford imbues everything with a honeyed experience – none more so than on the title track where her quiet steadfastness retains the love of the song’s hero.

Secret Combination’s covers excel: Crawford's version of Tony Joe White's A Rainy Night In Georgia may lack the despair of Brook Benton's famous reading, but sweetens the longing. That's How Heartaches Are Made (made famous by 'Baby' Washington/the Marvelettes) makes the song's desperation almost playful.

In 1981, Secret Combination seemed to be everywhere. It spent 60 weeks on the UK charts and reached No. 2. And in 1982, she won the Best Female Artist award at the Brits on the strength of this record. It remains a delightful time-capsule, perfect for sunny Sunday mornings.

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