Chairmen of the Board


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-72)

- Eddie Custis -- vocals

- Norman General Johnson (RIP 2010) -- vocals

- Harrison Kennedy -- vocals 

- Danny Wood -- vocals

 

  line up 2 (1972-73)

- Norman General Johnson (RIP 2010 -- vocals 

- Harrison Kennedy -- vocals 

- Danny Wood -- vocals 

 

  line up 3 (1973-76)

- Norman General Johnson (RIP 2010 -- vocals 

- Danny Wood -- vocals 

 

  line up 4 (1979-present)

- Norman General Johnson (RIP 2010 -- vocals 

NEW - Ken Knox -- vocals

- Danny Wood -- vocals 

 

- backing musicians

- Jim Brock -- percussion

- James Hogan -- lead guitar

- Jimmy Johnson -- drums

- Warren Moise -- keyboards, backing vocals

- Jack Myers -- bass, backing vocals

 

 

 

 

 

- Lee Andrew and the Hearts (Harrison Kennedy)

- The Famous Hearts) (Eddie Custis)

- The 5 Hearts (Eddie Custis)

- General Johnson (solo efforts)

- Harrison Kennedy (solo efforts)

- The Showmen (General Johnson and Danny Woods)

- Stone Soul Children  (Harrison Kennedy)

- The Superiors (Eddie Custis)

- Danny Wood (solo efforts)

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Chairmen of the Board

Company: Invictus

Catalog: ST-7300

Year: 1970

Country/State: US / Canada

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: Canadian pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5149

Price: $30.00

 

The Detroit-based The Chairmen of the Board had their shot at fame, wracking up several massive early-1970s soul and pop hits.  Unfortunately that fame was rather short-lived - roughly a three year period and they were relegated to the oldies play list.  Shame, since General Norman Johnson and company were massively talented and deserved of a much more lasting footnote in musical history.

 

The brainchild of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland's newly formed Invictus label, the original idea behind The Chairmen of the Board (Invictus was initially going to call the group The Gentlemen), was to put together a Four Tops-styled outfit.  With Invictus holding tryouts for the group, the concept morphed into one where each member would serve as a solo act and also as a member of the group.  The first member selected was General Johnson, who had a lengthy musical track record that stretched back to the early-1960s when he was the founding member of the Norfolk, Virginia-based The Showmen.  Recording for a number of labels, The Showmen were a popular regional act, but never broke through nationally, leading Johnson to strike out in pursuit of a solo career.  Iromically, Johnson had already been signed to Invictus as a songwriter and there were apparently some tentative plans for a solo record.  Those were dropped in favor of The Chairmen of the Board project.  Also selected were former-Lee Andrews & the Hearts singer Eddie Custis, ex-Stone Soul Children vocalist Harrison Kennedy, and former Showmen singer Danny Wood.

 

Back row left to right:  Johnson - Harrison

Front row left to right:  Wood - Custis

 

In spite of a truly hideous album cover, were it not for a couple of poorly chosen MOR pop covers (found on side two), this could have been an all-time classic album.  As it 1970's cleverly titled "The Chairmen of the Board" was still pretty impressive.  Blessed with a first-rate writer in Johnson and four first-rate singers, the collection was extremely varied serving as a showcase for each member's distinctive musical strengths.  Propelled by his instantly identifiable, nasally voice, Johnson was the most prominent of the four.  He was also the voice behind the group's biggest hits including the unforgettable 'Give Me Just a Little More Time' and the equally appealing follow-up hit 'You've Got Me Dangling On a String'.  While Curtis had the most mainstream and commercial voice, he was also stuck handling the album's most pedestrian songs including the lame 'My Way'.  Exemplified by their Beatles and Traffic covers, Kennedy served in the role of the group's rocker.  That left Wood to underscore the group's R&B credentials on tracks like 'Since the Days of Pigtails & Fairytales' and 'I'll Come Crawling'.  Commercially the album was a goldmine, spinning off a pair of top-10 pop hits via:

 

- 'Give Me Just a Little More Time' b/w 'Since the Days of Pigtails (& Fairytales)' (Invictus catalog number IS-9074)

- '(You've Got Me Dangling) On a String' b/w 'I'll Come Crawling' (Invictus catalog number IS-9078)

 

It also served as a nice source of material for outside artists, with Clarence Carter enjoying his biggest hit with a cover of Johnson's 'Patches'.

   

"The Chairmen of the Board" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Give Me Just a Little More Time   (Ronald Dunbar - E Wayne) - 2:38

2.) Come Together   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:50

3.) Bless You   (Ronald Dunbar - Norman Johnson) - 2:49

4.) Patches   (Ronald Dunbar - Norman Johnson) - 3:31

5.) Since the Days of Pigtails (and Fairytales)   (Ronald Dunbar - E Wayne) - 2:41

6.) I'll Come Crawling   (Ronald Dunbar - E Wayne) - 2:38

 

(side 2)
1.) You've Got Me Dangling On a String   (Ronald Dunbar - E Wayne) - 3:00

2.) Bravo, Hooray   (Norman Johnson) - 3:12

3.) Didn't We   (Jimmy Webb) - 2:41

4.) Feelin' Alright?   (Dave Mason) - 3:40

5.) My Way   (Revaux - Francois - Paul Anka) - 3:57

6.) Tricked & Trapped   (Ronald Dunbar - E Wayne) - 3:20

 

 

03/2013 SRB

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  In Session

Company: Invictus

Catalog: SKAO-7304

Year: 1970

Country/State: US / Canada

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 3

Catalog ID: 5160

Price: $20.00

Cost: $66.00

 

Their sophomore release, 1971's "In Session" found Eddie Custis, General Johnson, Harrison Kennedy, and Danny Wood working with Raynard Miner, Greg Perry and William Weatherspoon in the production chair.  While the results were somewhat uneven and patchy, about half of the collection was impressive and enjoyable and with two or three minor changes this could have been another Holland-Dozier-Holland soul classic.  Those changes would have been quite modest - basically ditching 'Twelfth of Never', 'Patches', and  their cover of Simon and Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'' since neither track fit with the rest of the group's patented mix of soul and pop influences.  C'est la vie.  So what's here?  As lead singers Curtis Johnson, Kennedy and Wood remained a triple threat ... Hard to pick a favorite since each had distinctive strengths and weaknesses.  As an example, Johnson's voice was instantly recognizable, but some folks may not have been thrilled when he kicked into that weird 'almost strangled' falsetto.  The biggest surprises here were Danny Wood's stinging vocals on 'Pay To the Piper' and the fact Johnson wrote 'Patches' (which Clarence Carter promptly appropriated for a massive hit).  I always assumed that Carter had written it himself.  Personal favorite, the proto-punk 'Children of Today'.  Think I'm kidding?  Check it out.  This is what The Clash always dreamed of achieving !!!

 

 

"In Session" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Chairmen of the Board   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier) - 3:34

Showcasing Harrison Kennedy handling lead vocals, the leadoff track was an atypical R&B-flavored number highlighted by some tasty fuzz guitar and an insidiously catchy refrain.  One of the first songs I ever heard with a lyric that included the phrase 'sex appeal' ...   rating: *** stars

2.) Everything's Tuesday   (Ron Dunbar - E. Wayne - D. Dumas) - 2:48

General Johnson had an instantly recognizable voice and he was in prime form on the bouncy 'Everything's Tuesday'.  A far more typical Invuctus composition, this song had one of those killer melodies that seemed to effortlessly flow out of the Invictus creative machine - bubblegum soul ?  One of the album's most commercial offerings, it was easy to see why the track was tapped as the lead off single.   rating: **** stars  

3.) Pay To the Piper   (Greg Perry - General Johnson - Ron Dunbar - Angelo Bond) - 3:05

Danny Wood's voice was shriller and more fragile than his cohorts, but the driving 'Pay To the Piper' was a perfect fit for his vocal strengths.  Co-written by Johnson, this was another highly commercial composition that provided the group with a pop and R&B hit.   rating: **** stars

4.) Twelfth of Never   (Paul Francis Webster - Jerry Livingston) - 3:13

The first disappointment, there simply wasn't much that could be done to salvage a sappy ballad like 'Twelfth of Never'.  I imagine none of them wanted to get stuck with this loser ...    Yech !!!   rating: * star 

5.) All We Need Is Understanding   (Ron Dunbar - E. Wayne) - 2:55

Opening up with some roller skating rink organ, 'All We Need Is Understanding' found Johnson singing the album's uplifting 'save the world' ballad.  Hokey beyond all description, but still enjoyable.    rating: **** stars

6.) Patches   (General Johnson - Ron Dunbar) - 3:22

Maybe because Clarence Carter's version is such a high standard, their cover of  'Patches' just didn't make the cut.  Actually the biggest problem was that Johnson's waivery voice simply wasn't up to the task in this case.  You could literally hear him struggling to get through the song.  Not a pleasant experience.   rating; * star

 

(side 2)
1.) It was Almost Something   (William Weatherspoon - Raynard Miner) - 2:41

Side two started with another lost General Johnson classic in the form of 'It was Almost Something'.  Yeah, this one borrowed a little bit from the earlier 'Give Me Just a Little More Time' but that didn't detract from it's pleasures.  Very commercial and would have made a good choice for a single.   rating; **** stars

2.) Bridge Over Troubled Water   (Paul Simon) - 5:19

Pity Custis for getting stuck handling the schmalzy cover of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'.  Geez, it almost sounded like he was trying to make it sound operatic.  Bad, bad, bad ...  rating: * star

3.) Hanging On To a Memory   (Ron Dunbar - E. Wayne - D. Dumas) - 4:13

With Woods handling lead, 'Hanging On To a Memory' was the album's funkiest number and lost treasure.  Packed with some great fuzz guitar and cheesy synthesizers, this one was simply great - imagine something Norman Whitfield might have done with prime career Temptations ...   rating: **** stars

4.) I Can't Find Myself   (General Johnson - Greg Perry - Ron Dunbar) - 2:33

Every time I hear the guitar pattern on  I Can't Find Myself' it reminds me of Ray Parker Jr's 'Ghostbusters'.  Add another one to the commercial could've been a hit column  rating: **** stars

5.) When Will She Tell Me She Needs Me   (General Johnson - Greg Perry - Ron Dunbar) - 3:06

'When Will She Tell Me She Needs Me' was a perfect example of why I'm such a big General Johnson fan - I can't think of another singer who can squeeze out the same feelings of anguish and hurt out of a song ...  his voice is simply unlike anyone else's.    And what was with the gasping on this pop gem?    rating: **** stars

6.) Children of Today   (William Weatherspoon) - 3:17

As mentioned above, 'Children of Today' was unlike anything else on the album.  Complete with jailhouse harmonica and strained, choking vocal, this one literally had a proto-punk feel to it ...  sounds weird, but you just had to hear it to believe it.    rating: **** stars

 

Elsewhere, the Invictus writing staff provided another collection of highly commercial tracks, with the album spinning off four singles:

 

 

- 1970's 'Everything's Tuesday' b/w 'Patches' (Invictus catalog number IS-9079)

- 1970's 'Pay To the Piper' b/w 'Bless You' (Invictus catalog number IS-9081)

- 1971's 'When Will She Tell Me She Needs Me' b/w 'Chairmen of the Board' (Invictus catalog number IS-9086)

- 1971's 'Hanging On To a Memory' b/w 'Tricked and Trapped' (Invictus catalog number IS-9089)

 

So close to perfection ... but even with three crappy songs, the rest of the album was well worth owning.

 

 

 

03/2013 SR

 

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Bittersweet

Company: Invictus

Catalog: ST-9801

Year: 1972

Country/State: US / Canada

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6010

Price: $25.00

 

Eddie Custis was the odd man out on the first two Chairmen of the Board album.  It wasn't that Custis lacked talent, rather his middle-of-the-road pop tendencies seemed ill suited to the group's overall sound and audience.  That disconnect combined with Custis' increasing erratic behavior probably explain why he was gone by the time the group released their third studio set.  

 

Harrison - Johnson - Wood

 

Co-produced by General Johnson and Greg Perry, 1972's "Bittersweet" found The Chairmen of the Board paired down to a trio consisting of  Johnson, Harrison Kennedy, and Danny Wood.  In spite of the personnel downsizing, the overall sound wasn't drastically different from their earlier catalog. Yeah, Custis' MOR ballads were absent, but it seems doubtful that anyone really noticed, or cared.  That left chief songwriter Johnson to focus his attention on a mixture of social and political commentary ('Men Are Getting Scarce'), 'Patches'-styled country-soul ('Elmo James'), and more commercially oriented soul ('').  The results were still entertaining, but on a song-for-song basis the collection wasn't quite as likeable as the first two.  Part of it was clearly tied to the group's interest in becoming 'serious' musicians willing to stake out their positions on social and political ills, but in doing so, this time around Johnson didn't churn out as many of his patented incideously memorable pop-soul masterpieces. 

 

"Bittersweet" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Men Are Getting Scarce   (General Johnson - Greg Perry) - 5:21

Opening up with a nifty staccato segment and an anti-war vamp (that hasn't aged all that well), 'Men Are Getting Scarce' actually sounded like something an acid soaked Eric Burden and the late inning Animals might have recorded.  The song was quite interesting, but an off choice for the album's lead off single.   rating: *** stars

2.) So Glad You're Mine   (General Johnson - Greg Perry) - 4:19

An atmospheric mid-tempo rocker, 'So Glad You're Mine' was a weird tune.  Musically it sounded like two separate ideas that had been haphazardly stitched together - the chorus exhibited a catchy hook that was typical for Invictus products, but the rest of the song had a darker, more serious feel.  Interesting, though again not particularly commercial.   rating: *** stars

3.) Working On a Building of Love   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) - 3:55

Exhibiting an almost Gospel-like intensity, 'Working On a Building of Love' was the first truly commercial offering.  Sporting an up-tempo, breezy melody that immediately crept into your head, it was easy to see why this one was tapped as the second single.   rating: **** stars

4.) I'm a Sign of the Changing Times   (General Johnson - Greg Perry) - 5:42

Opening up with some nice fuzz guitar and a growling Kennedy vocal (he really did growl on this one), 'I'm a Sign of the Changing Times' offered up another stab at non-too-subtle social commentary.  Wrapped in a Sly and the Family Stone-styled slab of funk, lyrically this one was actually pretty funny ("hair, hair - I love hair, I hate bald, but I ain't scared ... ").   One of the standout performances.  rating: **** stars

5.) Elmo James   (General Johnson - Greg Perry) - 4:18

Maybe I'm being overly cynical, but to my ears 'Elmo James' sounded like Johnson was reaching back into the 'Patches' songbook.  True, it wasn't a direct clone of the former (something the Holland-Dozier-Holland team had turned into an art form), but the overall feel and subject matter was certainly similar.  Mind you, that didn't detract from the song's pleasures.   rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) I'm On the Way To a Better Place   (General Johnson - Greg Perry) - 4:04

Johnson's quivery voice has always fascinated me  and it was seldom as interesting as on side two's 'I'm On the Way To a Better Place'.  In fact, it actually sounded like it had been subjected to some sort of production effects.  Musically and lyrically the song featured a distinctive gospel feel complete with references to Jesus Christ.  Definitely different, but the song's secular orientation certainly limited it's commercial potential.   rating: **** stars  

2.) Bittersweet   (General Johnson - Greg Perry) - 5:08

Tapped as the album's third single, the title track ballad was okay, if nothing special and the unexpected switch to a big band jazzy segment simply left you wondering what the hell was going on.  Certainly wouldn't have been my choice for a single.   rating: ** stars   

3.} Saginaw County Line   (General Johnson - Greg Perry) - 4:09

'Saginaw County Line' found Johnson returning to his 'Patches' style country-soul singer/storyteller well.  While I liked the harpsichord accompaniment, the rest of the song didn't do a great deal for me.  It really sounded like a retread.    rating: ** stars 

4.) Weary Traveler   (General Johnson) - 5:12

A straightforward and completely pedestrian blues number, 'Weary Traveler' sounded totally out of place on this album.  I guess it was nice to know they could pull off something like this, but it wasn't particularly original, or enjoyable.  (I think Kennedy was handling lead on this one.)    rating: ** stars 

 

Invictus released a series of three singles off the album:

 

- 1972's 'Working On a Building of Love' b/w 'Try On My Love for Size' (Invictus catalog number IS 9099)

- 1972's 'Men are Getting Scarce' b/w 'Bravo, Horoay' (Invictus catalog number IS 9103)

- 1972's 'Bittersweet' b/w 'Elmo James'  (Invictus catalog number IS 9105)

 

Probably the least impressive of their four albums for Invictus, this one just lacked the commercial tinge of their earlier releases.

 

 

 

03/2013 SRB

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Skin I'm In

Company: Invictus

Catalog: KZ 32526

Year: 1974

Country/State: US / Canada

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 6135

Price: $50.00

 

The fourth and largely unknown Chairmen of the Board LP ...   1974's "Skin I'm In" is one of those album's that was obscure when released and today is all but unknown.  This is nothing more than speculation on my part, but a couple of factors seem to have conspired to relegate it to obscurity.  By 1974 the Invictus label was all but dead which meant the album was released with minimal label support.  Adding to the problem, unhappy with the results, lead singer General Johnson essentially walked away from the album, refusing to support it in any shape or form.  

 

Produced by Jeffrey Bowen, "Skin I'm In" was a radical departure from the group's first three studio sets.  Musically the collection found the trio all but abandoning the patented commercial blend of soul and pop moves which had made them early-1970s radio staples.  Under Bowen's hand, this time around the trio were framed with a much tougher funk attack that sounded like it had borrowed significant inspiration from the Normal Whitfield school of psychedelic soul, with more than a touch of George Clinton and the Funkadelic/Parliament nation thrown in for good measure.  The funny thing about the album is that while he was pictured on the back cover and was credited with writing, or co-writing most of the material, lead singer General Johnson was all but invisible on the collection. That left Harrison Kennedy and Danny Wood to handle most of the lead vocals.  Both were capable singers, but up to this point Johnson had been the heart and soul of the group, so his absence was quite apparent.

 

 

"Skin I'm In" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Everybody Party All Night   (General Johnson - Jeffrey Bowen) - 4:00

'Everybody Party All Night' was a hard-edged funk number with a great pounding beat and some nifty lead guitar.  Yeah, the lyrics were pretty lame, but this was easily the toughest hitting single the Chairmen of the Board ever released.  Always loved the cheesy synthesizer solo ...  rating: **** stars

2.) Skin I'm In   (General Johnson - Jeffrey Bowen) - 4:15

Kicked along by a cool wah-wah guitar figure, 'Skin I'm In' found the group pulling a page out of the Norman Whitfield psychedelic-soul catalog.  Another taunt rock-tinged number with a great synthesizer solo, this was one of my favorite performances.   rating: **** stars

3.) Morning Glory (instrumental)   (D. Baldwin- W. Nelson) - 2:20

Opening up with one of my all-time favorite fuzz guitar figures, 'Morning Glory' was a fantastic instrumental made even better by a breezy melody and the cool mellotron segment.   Completely unlike anything else released by The Chairmen of the Board, or the Invictus label.    rating: **** stars

4.) Life & Death Pt 1   (Sylvester Stewart) - 1:36

Written by Sly Stone, 'Life & Death Pt 1' opened up with some pounding Latin-flavored percussion and a jittery mini-Moog rhythm.  I think Danny Wood handled lead vocals on this one, giving the song a searing edge.    rating: **** stars

5.) White Rose (Freedom Flower) (instrumental)   (D. Baldwin- W. Nelson) - 1:41

'Freedom Flower' offered up a beguiling mixture of mellotron, synthesizers, fuzz guitar (Eddie Hazel?) and African kalimba.  That may not sound like a promising combination, but the results were stunning.   rating: **** stars

6.) Life & Death Pt II   (Sylvester Stewart) - 2:33

If anything 'Life & Death Pt II' managed to rock even harder !  Amazing song.    rating: ***** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Let's Have Some Fun   (General Johnson) - 3:43

One of the few Johnson lead vocals, 'Let's Have Some Fun' sported a breezy, slightly tropical feel.  While the track had a nice melody, the most interesting feature was the weird scratchy lead guitar.  Always wondered how they got the strange effect ...    rating: *** stars

2.) Love At First Sight   (General Johnson) - 3:50

The album's first disappointment, 'Love At First Sight' was a big, old-school ballad.  The song was okay, but just seemed out of place on the collection.    rating: ** stars

3.) Only Love Can Break a Heart   (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 5:30

Ditto the above comments with respect to their heavily orchestrated and blues-tinged remake of Bacharach-David's 'Only Love Can Break a Heart'.   The sensitive spoken word segment was about as romantic as a tire commercial.  Hideous ...     rating: * star

4.) Live with Me, Love with Me  (General Johnson - D. Baldwin - Jeffrey Bowen) - 3:56

Surrounded by a lush, psychedelic-tinged arrangement, - 'Live with Me, Love with Me' was the weirdest ballad these guys ever did.  It literally sounded like the whole group was tripping out on some illicit substance.    rating: *** stars

5.) Finder's Keepers  (General Johnson - Jeffrey Bowen) - 4:00

Kicked along by a wonderful mini-Moog synthesizer pattern (shades of Stevie Wonder), 'Finder's Keepers' had one of those melodies that you simply could not shake out of your head.  Surrounded by a blazing horn arrangement (the wild trombone solo simply had to be heard), Harrrison (?) turned in his gruffest and most appealing vocal performance.  This was easily one of the best singles to ever come out of Invictus.  Try sitting still through this one ...  Always wondered about the strange, abrupt ending ...   rating: ***** star

 

Invictus tapped the album for a series of three singles:

 

- 1973's 'Finder's Keepers' b/w Finder's Keepers' (instrumental) (Invictus catalog number ZS7 1251) # 7 pop; # 21 R&B

- 1974's 'Life & Death' b/w 'Live with Me, Love with Me' (Invictus catalog number ZS7-1263)

- 1974's 'Everybody Party All Night' b/w 'Morning Glory' (instrumental) (Invictus catalog number ZS7-1268)  # 80 R&B

 

All hyperbole aside, this is a great lost soul LP.  Well worth looking for.

 

 

 

03/2013 SRB

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Success

Company: Surfside

Catalog: SR-1001

Year: 1981

Country/State: Detroit, Michigan

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring and edge wear

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: 6008

Price: SOLD $10.00

 

With General Johnson's solo career having stalled out, in 1979 he decided to start his own label.  Partnering with Mike Branch, the result was the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Surfside Records.  Johnson also had the foresight to realize mid-Atlantic popular tastes were ready for a resurgence of beach music and old school soul.  As a result he decided to resurrect The Chairmen of the Board with Danny Woods, and Ken Knox  (who had previously been a member of the mid-1970s Chairmen of the Board touring band).

 

Wood - Johnson - Knox

 

Released by Surfside, 1981's Johnson produced "Success" found the group offering up a mixture of disco-tinged dance numbers and old school soul.  Johnson was responsible for penning most of the album and the results weren't nearly as bad as you might have expected, though anyone who thought they were going to hear a collection of Invictus-era soul moves was going to be disappointed by some of the disco-flavored numbers.

 

 

"Success" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Me, My Woman and My Woman   (General Johnson) - 4:48

Yeah, 'Me, My Woman and My Woman' had a distinctive disco vibe that actually bore more than a passing resemblance to Chic ...  the song prominently incorporated the skitterish guitar sound Nile Rodgers so effectively used on the Chic catalog.  Harmless dance fun, though nothing like their pop-soul successes.   rating: ** stars

2.) Fool Am I    (General Johnson)- 3:53

Johnson's always written great hooks and that talent was on display with 'Fool Am I'.  Yeah, this one also sported the Chic-styled sound, but Woods turned in a nice lead vocals (with a scat segment) and the chorus was a killer.   rating: **** stars

3.) Summer Love   (General Johnson) - 5:48

A breezy mid-tempo number, 'Summer Love' was a perfect beach music track.  The subject was also perfect for Johnson unique, quivering voice which had actually deepened a bit over the ensuing years.   rating: *** stars

4.) Success   (General Johnson) - 3:54

Side one ended with an atypical rocker.  With Wood handling the lead vocals, this one actually came close to recalling the band's Invictus era stabs at social commentary.  Maybe because it was so different from most of their beach music outings, this one was quite impressive.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Pretty Women Everywhere (Hey Baby)   (M. Cobb - Bruce Channel) - 2:42

Side two opened up with an updated version of Bruce Channel's 'Hey Girl'.  Word of advice - stay away from trying to redo pop classics in a disco-ish vein.  Yech !!!   rating: ** stars

2.) On the Beach   (General Johnson) - 3:23

'On the Beach' found the band returning to beach music bliss.  An easy going, party number, this one was perfect summer material.  I remember laughing out loud when I heard the lyric 'everyone loves to ball ...'  Cold Corona anyone ?  rating: **** stars

3.) Bird In the Hand   (General Johnson) - 3:24

'Bird In the Hand' was a clear throwback to the group's late-1960s/early-1970s heyday.  A wonderful slice of gritty old-school soul, this one had everything needed to have been a massive hit (in 1970).  Easily the album's standout performance it was tapped as a single.   rating: **** stars

4.) Down At the Beach Cafe   (General Johnson) - 2:58

Another slice of beach music, 'Down At the Beach Cafe' was a bit on the calculated side.  Pleasant and something your could hum. but nowhere near as good as some of the other tunes.   rating: *** stars

5.) Carolina Girls   (General Johnson) - 3:26

The set's most commercial number, 'Carolina Girls' was another beach music classic - in fact, you still see women wearing 'Caroline Girls' tee shirts through the mid-Atlantic ...  Great, ready friendly track   rating: **** stars

6.) I Will Love You More   (General Johnson) - 3:08

A big, overblown ballad, 'I Will Love You More' sounded like something Lionel Ritchie might have covered.  Forgettable and out of character with the rest of the album.  rating: ** stars   

 

The album was tapped for a pair of singles in the form of:

 

- 1981's 'Carolina Girl' b/w 'Down At the Boondocks' (Surfside catalog number 80090)

- 1981's 'Bird in the Hand' b/w 'Beach Fever' (Surfside catalog number 820215)

 

Nah, this one wasn't an essential addition to your soul catalog, but on a nice summer evening with a couple of cold beers and a pretty lady on your arm it was a good way to spend a couple of hours.

 

 

03/2013 SRB

 

 

 

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