If you don’t mind, I would like to begin this week’s exploration of classic soul music with a bit of self-promotion in the hope that you will find it useful. Did you know that I maintain a Soul Serenade playlist on both Spotify and Rdio? The lists contain not only nearly every song that I’ve written about in this space, but some extra songs as well. If I do say so myself, they make for great party music. Since there are well over 100 songs on each list, you can just hit play and relax for the rest of the night. Please subscribe to one or both. Thanks.

For those of you who are up on the newer social media technology, there is also a Soul Serenade board on Pinterest. That’s where I put the photos that are associated with each week’s column. I’m even giving consideration to creating a Facebook page for Soul Serenade. More on that when I end the procrastination and actually do it. Commercial over.

This week’s selection is another one of those songs that I am surprised didn’t make the column sooner because it’s one of my favorites. “If I Ever Lose This Heaven” appeared on the third Average White Band album, Cut the Cake in 1975. It was also released as a single, and while it wasn’t as successful as some of the other AWB singles, it did manage to reach #39 on the US pop chart, and #25 on the R&B chart.

“If I Ever Lose This Heaven” is a cover of a song written by Leon Ware and Pam Sawyer. The song first appeared on the 1974 Quincy Jones album Body Heat. The single, which featured Ware, along with Al Jarreau and Minnie Riperton, wasn’t a pop hit, but did reach #71 on the R&B chart. The Jones original has a nice slinky groove, but the AWB cover really ratchets up the funk intensity.

Cut the Cake was a difficult album to make for AWB. They were still mourning the loss of drummer Robbie McIntosh who had died of a heroin overdose the previous year. It got to the point that producer Arif Mardin considered pulling the plug on the whole thing. Fortunately everyone soldiered on, and the result was an album that topped the R&B chart, and made it to #4 on the pop chart. AWB has made many more albums over the years, but they never again attained that lofty height.

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