Classics: Sharon Redd – Can You Handle It (Special Remixed Version) (Prelude)
Can you handle It? Listening to Sharon Redd‘s classic, one instantly realizes how she could for its very first notes. Beautifully surrounded by producers Willie Lester and Rodney Brown comin’ up with this stellar Disco/Funk gem. Blending an infectious rhythmic guitar line and jazzy horns over a bumpin’ bassline. With François Kevorkian putting it to the next level remixwise.
Can you handle it? Yes we can, can’t we? Meanwhile, I wouldn’t be surprised hearing this gem happened to be of some inspiration on Janice McClain‘s conception of the quite underrated ‘Giving My Love’. If not on Crazy P‘s ‘Never Gonna Reach Me’ as remixed by Hot Toddy to another extend…
Can you handle it? A quick look at the various facets of Norfolk VA native Sharon Redd‘s career brilliantly shows as to how she could. As a matter of fact, she went a long way. Besides, the CV’s of the members of her family must have somehow been of a help. From her dad who worked at King Records which signed James Brown. To her stepfather who was a member of Benny Goodman‘s band. But also her brother who wrote and produced for Kool & The Gang and later on BMP. Not to mention her sister, Penny(e) Ford, who also had a successful singing career, also remembered as the lead singer of Snap!
Sharon had an operatic training during her childhood. But she initially worked as an actress. Securing the lead role in an Australian production of ‘Hair’. She then starred in her own TV special. Then she came to London to star in an American production of ‘The Wedding of Iphigenia’ in 1974. Then she featured as a guest in the musical ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ 4 years later. Meanwhile, Bette Midler who was lookin’ to replace Merle Miller and Gail Kantor who’d left her to pursue their own interests, auditioned over 70 performers, out of which Redd landed the job, becoming one of Bette‘s Harlettes.
That said, the first traces of Sharon Redd as a recording artist on her own bring us back to 1968. Back then, she’d recorded 4 singles on United Artists. And aside from performing as a Harlette, she provided backing vocals for various artists. From Carol Douglas to D.C. Larue. Not to mention Norman Connors (You’re My Starship’) or Boz Scaggs (‘Jojo’).
By 1979, Redd eventually joined the transient Disco group Soirée along with Luther Vandross and Fonzi Thornton in the backing vocals. And one could hear her too on Front Page‘s ‘Love Insurance’ although she got uncredited for that.
She would get her breakthrough though the year after, when signing a record deal with Prelude. Coming straight to fame with the Willie Lester and Rodney Franklin produced ‘Can You Handle It’. A classic which, along with ‘You Got My Love’, ‘Never Give You Up’, ‘Beat The Street’ and ‘Love How You Feel’, established her as the biggest selling artist on the label. She nevertheless progressively disappeared from the radar, leavin’ Prelude after 3 albums.
British electronic music producers Nick Batt and Neal Slateford, aka DNA eventually gave their rendition of ‘Can You Handle It’ with Redd on vocals back in 1992. Sadly enough, she didn’t get the opportunity to enjoy it, dying of a pneumonia on May 01 at the age of 47 that same year.
More recently, by the end of the Summer of 2018, ‘Try My Love On For Size’, an underrated jewel from her 1980 eponymous album, has resurfaced. This under the form of a brilliant cover version by the likes of British outfit The Shapeshifters.
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