Mates’ Crates: Millie Jackson – We Got To Hit It Off

Mates’ Crates, a series headed up by our friend Andrei Sandu, dives into the tales behind records and digs deeper into our connections to music. A funk soul classic this time, with Millie Jackson’s “We Got To Hit It Off”.

Label: Spring | Year: 1979 | Discogs: Millie Jackson – A Moment’s Pleasure

If you’ve been to a nightclub playing house music at some point in the last decade, you’ll have heard Millie Jackson, even if you don’t know it. Tom Trago’s “Use Me Again” took the 2010s by storm, partly because it is a really well made house record, but mostly down to Jackson’s diva vocal.

Whereas I only (finally) got my hands on Jackson’s version of “We Got To Hit It Off” a few weeks ago, I’ve owned Benny Latimore’s for ages. It’s on the same album as “Out To Get ‘Cha”, one of my favourite funk tracks ever. I was surprised that Latimore’s was the original, and that he wrote it.

For me, Jackson’s energy and empowerment is unmatched.  It was produced by Brad Shapiro, who had actually worked with Latimore in the 1960s, on his “Girl I Got News For You“, before moving to Spring Records in NYC. Shapiro also produced Wilson Pickett’s Loft classic “Don’t Knock My Love”.

When picking between “We Got To Hit It Off” and Gene Dunlap’s “Party In Me” to write about for this column, I was surprised to discover that backing vocals on both records (otherwise completely unrelated in my mind) were performed by soul trio Brandye.

Born in Georgia, Millie Jackson moved to New York after the death of her mother. She began performing in NYC’s clubs in the mid-sixties, where her conversations with the audience (which Jackson later attributed to nerves) became a key part of her stage act.

Owing to the spoken word sections in many of her songs, some have called Jackson the mother of hip-hop. Building on her love of poetry, Jackson began writing promo-rap R&B in the early seventies, most notably “A Child Of God” and her raunchy 1974 album “Caught Up“.

In 2001, returned from a long hiatus to release “Not For Church Folk”, capturing the sound of contemporary early 2000s R&B. Her daughter Keisha is also a singer, who has performed backing vocals for the likes of Whitney Houston, Erykah Badu and OutKast.