The sisters are not going for that no more
‘Cause we realize two things
That you aren’t doing anything for us
We can better do by ourselves
So from now on, we gonna use
What we got to get what we want
So, you’d better think, think
Now’s the time when we have
That’s the thing I never will forget
When I heard the latest news about the unfolding Harvey Weinstein scandal the lyrics to this song came to mind. So I thought it would be an appropriate time to feature this funky record from 1972.
Gloria Laverne Collins was born in Texas in 1948. She began her singing career in her teens with the Charles Pike Singer and recorded her first single, “Unlucky in Love,” at the age of 14. Her break came when, after seeing James Brown perform, she decided to send her demo tape to him. Brown heard something he liked and asked Collins to join the James Brown Revue.
It wasn’t quite that easy though, and Collins had to spend a couple of years on the bench before being called into the Revue. While she waiting, Brown took her into the studio and she recorded five songs. Two of them, “Wheels of Life” and “Just Won’t Do Right,” were released as a single on Brown’s People Records label. Shortly thereafter she was handed the lead singing spot in the Revue where Brown dubbed her the “Female Preacher” in deference to her gospel-based singing style.
Despite the fact that Brown was not particularly well known as an enlightened male, he wrote and produced “Think” for Collins, and his J.B.’s provided the backing track. With its spare drumbeat and sometimes random background vocal interjections, it’s easy to imagine that the entire track was recorded live in the studio with little or no overdubbing. However it was recorded, it worked out well, with the record reaching to the Top 10 in 1972.
“Think (About It)” became the title track for Collins’ first album, released by Polydor, which included four other Brown-written songs. But first and foremost, Collins was a salaried member of the James Brown Revue and as such saw very little of the profits from her hit record. She contributed songs to blaxploitation films like Black Caesar, and Slaughter’s Big Rip Off, and there was a much-loved duet with Brown called “What My Baby Needs Now is a Little More Loving.”
Collins recorded one more album for Polydor before leaving the Revue in 1976. She moved to L.A. and got a clerical job at the Record Plant recording studio. She didn’t stop singing though, providing background vocals for artists like Dionne Warwick, Al Green, and Rod Stewart.
Funk had a comeback in the mid-’80s and Collins decided to try to be a part of it. She released a new dance single called “Shout,” and her two Polydor albums were reissued, bringing her to the attention of a new generation of listeners. Even more attention was paid when Rob Base & DJ Ezy-Rock sampled her “Think” vocal for their 1989 smash “It Takes Two.”
Fame arrived again for Collins in 1998 when Polydor released an album called James Brown’s Funky Divas which included 11 Collins songs. In 2005 she toured Europe where she was treated like a star by audiences. Sadly, Collins suffered a seizure brought on by choking on a piece of food. She died on March 13, 2005, at the age of 56.
Yes, “Think (About It)” was a hit in 1972 but the record became even more popular in later years for the samples it spawned. In fact, it became one of the most heavily sampled of all of Brown’s records, and that’s saying something. In addition to Rob Base & DJ Ezy-Rock, those who used one of the record’s five breaks on their own records included Roxanne Shante, De La Soul, Kid Rock, Janet Jackson, Snoop Dogg, TLC, and Fergie. The feminist anthem disguised as a funk record lives on in all of these recordings.