The Incomparable Sharon Terea Robinson
In 2011, Jazzman Records re-released Sharon Robinson’s 1977 Terea album.
Yes, this is the same Sharon Robinson who sang background for Leonard Cohen since the 1979 Field Commander Cohen tour and has been his songwriting collaborator since 1980.1
As ongoing Cohencentric readers might anticipate, there’s a story behind this album’s production and Sharon Robinson’s participation in the project.
Music & Money
The Making Of Terea by Dennis Dreith is a well-written, thorough account of, well, the making of Terea. The following excerpts cover the most pertinent points but the entire piece is a worthwhile, informative read:
In the fall of 1977 when production began on the Terea Album, Baby Grand Records was in full swing releasing scores of eclectic recordings, all designed primarily for one purpose…not to turn a profit! The premise … had at its foundation a curious loophole in the U.S. tax laws that allowed wealthy investors to realize a tax credit far in excess of their investment. It was really quite simple; an investor would put up a few thousand dollars to cover the production and manufacturing costs. The album would have a minimal number of pressings issued and an accountant would value the recording at 10’s of thousands of dollars above the costs based on what the investor would have realized had the record been a commercial success…
Of course for us, none of that mattered. We were being given money to record pretty much the music we wanted to and in the manner we wanted … All we had to deliver was a credible finished album on time and on budget. We recorded everything from experimental jazz projects, to mainstream rock and pop music, to live-to-2-track jazz recordings, commercial albums of “covers,” and whatever else popped into our minds…
Sometime in 1977, Sharon Robinson, a fine background singer and songwriter who I had worked with briefly a couple of times sent me a demo tape of her a singing a few of her own songs. I loved the tape and played it for Ron and my production partner John Seiter (The Turtles, Spanky and Our Gang) the next morning. Ron loved the demo as well, and later that same week got a green light for the Sharon Robinson project. Because of the tax shelter issues with the label, Sharon was reluctant to use her own name, hence Terea (a name she had used in the past and her middle name I believe)…
It was decided that I would also do the arrangements (although Sharon’s songs were so beautifully constructed that all I had to do was organize them and add a few polishing touches)…
In addition to Sharon’s original material, it was also her idea to record a version of the Jimi Hendrix iconic song “Manic Depression,” which we put together the night before the first session based on a live version Sharon had been performing. The unusual vocal sound on this track was achieved by “double tracking” Sharon’s vocal (i.e. recording her a second time on another track singing the exact part as on the first track), but in this case, recording the second vocal track with her singing up against the grated metal door of the studio’s deserted loading dock. Sharon was not only a good sport to try this technique, but a consummate professional by nailing the double exactly (or maybe she just wanted back in the studio right to get away from whatever “creepy crawlers” had inherited the loading dock).
Jazzman Revives Terea
Jazzman Records, a UK company founded by Gerald Short, came onto the scene in the 1990s as a dealer in rare funk and jazz LPs & 45s. Later, Short used Jazzman to pursue
a mission to re-release the best and most obscure and rare tracks from the late ’60s and early ’70s. The aim was to bring the long forgotten sound that didn’t get any recognition in that time period.2
Two Jazzman releases are of special interest to Sharon Robinson fans:
1. Lemuria3 / Terea – Hunk Of Heaven / Pretty Bird
Issued as a 7″ record in 2005.
Pretty Bird is sung by Terea, who is, of course, Sharon Robinson.
Issued as a CD and limited run of 500 vinyl LPs4 in 2011. A reissue of Terea (Baby Grand – 1977)
- One & Only
- Try Harder
- We Found Love
- Manic Depression
- Morning Laughter
- Pretty Bird
- For Free
- Good Company
From Randall Funk
Most of the the tracks are smooth, soulful funk, but they often verge into some unexpected territory. One of the main highlights, for example, is a funky cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression.”
From Dusty Groove:
Sweet jazzy soul from Terea – a group who never cracked the big time, but who work here with a vibe that’s almost like 70s Rufus at their best! The instrumentation is wonderful – warm, but funky – just the right balance to set the scene perfectly for the lead vocals by Sharon Robinson – a singer who’s really great – as equally top-shelf as the players on the session! The record’s always been billed as a “tax shelter” project that never succeeded because it was doomed from the start – but thankfully that situation’s been remedied by Jazzman’s great reissue of the material – finally bringing this soulful treasure back to light. A record you’d be proud to file next to your copies of the Newban and James Mason albums – with cuts that include “Pretty Bird”, “Morning Laughter”, “For Free”, “Manic Depression”, “One & Only”, and “Try Harder”.
Listen To Terea
Sharon Terea Robinson – Pretty Bird
Clips From Terea
Terea Album Credits
Note: Because Baby Grand sessions were not made in a union framework, the musicians generally used pseudonyms.
Arranged By – Dennis Dreith
Arranged By [Vocal Arrangements] – Terea*
Art Direction – Paul Ross (5)
Artwork By [Liner Art] – Walter Morgan Associates
Artwork By [Packaging] – Divine Inc.
Bass – Jim Schlossberg*
Brass – Doo-Ragg Horns, The
Drums – Enrique Vasques
Engineer [Mastering] – G. Sykes*
Engineer [Recording] – D. Vaught*
Engineer [Remix] – D. Dreith*
Executive Producer – Ronald Fair
Guitar – Dave Guye*
Liner Notes, Other [Licensed By] – Dennis Dreith
Mastered By – Pete “That Alan Sugar Would Still Be Knocking Out His Homemade Amps Down Petticoat Lane If It Weren’t For Me” Graves*
Photography [Cover] – Mikel Covey
Piano – Matt Gregory*
Producer [Original] – Dennis Dreith, John Seiter
Reissue Producer – Gerald Short
Songwriter [Songs By] – J Hendrix* (tracks: 4), J Mitchell* (tracks: 7), S Robinson* (tracks: 1 to 3, 5, 6, 8), T Cahill (tracks: 1, 2)
Credit Due Department: A special thanks goes to Tom Sakic, who alerted me to this album and its origins.
I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Oct 26, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.