Millie Jackson Exposed – The Multi-Track Sessions Mixed By Steve Levine

‘Millie Jackson Exposed’ is scheduled for release on 29th June 2018 on the prestigious Ace Records label. This album showcases the fabulous songs of Millie Jackson and her talented musicians, mixed once more by Grammy Award winning British record producer Steve Levine to bring them into sharp focus. Buy ‘Millie Jackson Exposed’ at Ace Records

This 24bit, 96kHz super high-res album mix is the result of a discussion between Roger Armstrong of Ace Records and producer Steve Levine. Roger and Steve both met at PPL where they both feature on the board, and discovered their mutual admiration of the stunning sound of Millie Jackson and her talented musicians. They hatched a plan to go over the Millie Jackson multi-track tapes to see if there was something new that could be created from them. The process was detailed; and thus began the transferral of all available analogue tapes to digital, and also the shipment of a significant drive packed with music over to Steve’s Liverpool studio.

Watch Steve Levine discuss how ‘Millie Jackson Exposed’ was developed

After a process of sorting through the material, a potential track listing began to evolve. The repertoire that was chosen included a fine mix of dancers and grooves, always showcasing Millie’s amazing soul vocals. The bedrock of this album is absolutely fantastic – the recordings are such high quality, made in some of the best recording studios around, with some of the most talented musicians of the 70’s – including the Swampers at Muscle Shoals recording studios with David Hood, Roger Hawkins, Barry Beckett and Jimmy Johnson, and also background vocals from the fantastic Brandye and the Moments.

Many a time the tracks were recorded at the iconic Muscle Shoals Studio, which lent the material a super-solid groove, and the sweeteners were added later in New York, Philadelphia, or Detroit, using great arrangers including the legendary Mike Lewis and also David Van DePitte, who was well known for his work at Motown.

With such rich source material, it required a knowledgeable producer/engineer with a sympathetic ear and passion for the music to turn the tracks into something that sounded new and fresh, whilst utilising  the advantages of modern digital technology, allowing for soundstages and editing that wasn’t possible at the time.

With Steve Levine’s producing background encompassing a plethora of genres including pop, rock and soul, and his work on the BBC2 show ‘The Record Producers’, he was the ideal person to helm the multi-track tapes and see where this could lead. Steve’s new mix is a break away from the contemporary mix often heard in the charts (which uses small elements of the original to create a new track and ‘floating’ the vocal on top).

The music you hear on ‘Millie Jackson Exposed’ was performed on the original tracks – indeed it was thought that there is no sense adding anything when the original standard of musicianship was so stellar. Indeed the title ‘Exposed’ was chosen due to the fact that Steve’s mix opens the sound right out, so you can hear the original instrumentation crystal clear. The tracks on ‘Exposed’ are also extended, so this takes advantage of those classic grooves, looping them and adding a new dynamic.

This technique is best heard on ‘I Cry’ – now featuring a dramatic, ethereal intro reminiscent of perhaps Portishead, which has the effect of adding even more drama to a lesser known but superb social commentary song from Millie Jackson.

Listen to the swirling reverb on ‘If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right)’ – this makes even more dramatic what is one of the most conflicted and disturbing lyrics in soul music.

The keyboards that drive ‘My Man, A Sweet Man’ are revisited in a whole new way, as is the subtle dance groove of the steamy Isaac Hayes duet on ‘Sweet Music, Soft Lights And You’. The intention on this album is to respectfully produce alternate versions of the music that were simply not possible at the time, drawing them closer to a more contemporary audio experience for our digital age (with an analogue heart).