Some of legendary singer Roberta Flack’s most popular albums include her debut First Take and later Killing Me Softly, gospel-leaning soul albums with immortal ballads like “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and the latter album’s famously Fugees-covered title track. But my favorite is the under-appreciated Feel Like Makin’ Love, a lush and sensual foray into the Adult Contemporary sound that defined many hits of the mid-70s.
Musically, Feel Like Makin’ Love is more Carole King than Nina Simone, its breezy title track earning a #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 as well as three Grammy noms including Song of the Year. Younger heads like myself may also recognize it from D’Angelo’s cover version on his mid-career masterwork Voodoo.
The vibe here is resolutely mellow and sexy, with a much larger band than previous Flack recordings, including but not limited to jazz legends Bob James (keyboards), Idris Muhammad and Alphonse Mouzon (drums), and Joe Farrell (oboe). Though quite accessible, the record is expertly arranged and performed, with an early highlight in “I Can See the Sun in Late December”.
“I Can See the Sun” was penned by Stevie Wonder, who was at a career peak around this time. It shows: the nearly 13-minute epic feels less than half that length, with Flack carrying the soaring melody and the band filling out the sound like sunlight shining into the forest of the album cover. It’s a wonderful song on an album full of them.
Feel Like Makin’ Love‘s recording process took over a year and was reportedly fraught with production disputes, leading to delays in its release and an emotionally distressed Roberta Flack. But you wouldn’t know that upon hearing it. The final product is an outstanding collection of smooth soul, ideal for summer days and nights.
Click here to listen on Spotify.