Demon has acquired all 12 albums that the Average White Band released between 1973 and 1982, and the first half of its reissue programme consists of two double-disc sets, each containing three original albums and bonus tracks. The Average White Band’s Caledonian take on soul and funk was both audacious and authentic with, for example, the blue-eyed soulfulness of If I Ever Lose This Heaven and fat funk of Cut The Cake and Pick Up The Pieces winning them a massive audience Stateside as well as here. Both of these sets contain much material of merit.
Record Collector, September 09
“A dozen albums over four double discs”
As the Philadelphia International stable of acts brought lush orchestral soul to the higher reaches of the pop charts in the early 70s, it was perhaps surprising that a gutsier take on the form was being peddled by a group of Caucasian Caledonians. AWB were a potent melting pot of styles, equally adept at throwing the jazz shapes of Quincy Jones or Lalo Schifrin, and aping the urban strut of Isaac Hayes.
The first of these reissues tells a story in itself: 1973’s Show Your Hand was a critical hit, its funk undertones drawing comparisons with Ohio Players, but sales were negligible. MCA rejected its follow-up, How Sweet Can You Get? (belatedly earning a release in 2003), and the band moved to Atlantic, where producer Arif Mardin helped them develop a more disciplined and commercial sound.
Mardin stayed at the desk for further albums, with 1978’s Warmer Communications arguably the pick of the bunch. It’s a master class in sophisticated soul that stands head-and-shoulders above the glut of the era’s cookie-cutter disco offerings, topped off with a bold cover of James Taylor’s Daddy's All Gone.
Mojo, August 09
All AWB LPs on four 2-CD sets. Volume One has their classic ‘White Album’, the Scots soul band’s years of live toil bearing fruit with Arif Mardin.