Album of the Day: Robert Cotter, “Missing You”
By Ashawnta Jackson · April 06, 2021 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP

Robert Cotter’s 1976 album, Missing You was meant to be lost forever. It was first released on Roulette imprint Tiger Lily; 10 years later, label head Morris Levy would be facing extortion charges. It’s a complicated story of mobsters and money, and as Richard Carlin explains in his book about Levy, music was an afterthought in Tiger Lily’s business model: “The idea was to press a minimum number of records, leave them in the warehouse […] destroy them as dead inventory, [and] take a tax write off.” It was never meant to be heard.

When it was released, Missing You didn’t sell—that was the plan. But a reissue by WEWANTSOUNDS provides a chance to hear it again, revealing both a missed opportunity and glimpse of what was to come. Cotter is joined on a few tracks by his bandmates from the Big Apple Band—Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards, Tony Thompson, and Robert Sabino—who would go on as Chic, which makes this lost record also something of an origin story.

It’s got all the right elements—intertwining disco, R&B, funk, and jazz. Cotter shows his church roots on songs like “Three Wise Men” and the psych-soul “Come on With It.” And it’s not at all a surprise that his song “Saturday” would go on to be a hit for Norma Jean Wright in 1978. In a 2008 interview (reproduced in the liner notes) with journalist and Chic biographer Daryl Easlea, Rodgers talks about Cotter’s range on “Saturday”: “He could just nail that stuff.” Both true of the song, and the album overall; when he’s on, he’s on. Missing You was never meant to be, but now is as good a time as any for a second chance for this piece of history.

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