Choice 4, The

Band members               Related acts

- Charles Blagmon (RIP) -- baritone, bass, tenor vocals


- Bobby Hamilton -- lead vocals (1970-76)

- Theodore 'Ted' Maduro -- lead and tenor vocals (1970-76)

- Pete Marshall -- baritone, bass, tenor vocals (1970-76)




- The Love Tones (Theodore 'Ted' Maduro and 

  Pete Marshall)

- The Stridells (Charles Blagmon)





Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  The 4 Choice

Company: RCA

Catalog: APL1-0913

Year: 1975

Country/State: Washington, D.C.

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5305

Price: $20.00


Like Detroit, Memphis, and Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. had a vibrant 1960s/early-1970s musical scene with more than its share of talented soul outfits.  The difference is that D.C.'s scene wasn't as well as organized as some of the former locales.  As a result, much of the city's talent has been forgotten over the years.


Formed in 1970, Washington's The Choice 4 featured the talents of Charles Blagmon, Bobby Hamilton, Ted Maduro, and Pete Marshall.  Blagmon had previously been a member of Eastern High School's The Stridells, while Maduro and Marshall had been in a competing group - The Love Tones.  The group apparently did fairly well on the Washington/Baltimore club circuit, including establishments like Baltimore's Checkerboard Lounge. 



Released in 1975, their cleverly-titled sophomore album "The 4 Choices" teamed the group with Washington native Van McCoy who was credited with arranging, conducting, producing, as well as writing about half the material.  While Hamilton was the nominal lead singer, all four members were capable performers; each given an opportunity to handle lead vocals.  In case anyone cared, Hamilton had the best all around voice with Blagmon coming in a close second.   To be perfectly honest the first time I played this album it didn't don't all that much for me.  The material was competent, but on first brush came off as being fairly pedestrian and routine.  McCoy's string-heavy arrangements didn't exactly help the situation.  Luckily I set the album aside for a couple of months and came back to it on a cold Sunday morning.  For some reason, something clicked and I found myself really enjoying the set the second time around.  Be forewarned you won't find anything particularly innovative or exciting here.  On the other McCoy provided the group with several first rate tracks and the responded with performances that were every but as good as their better known competition.  The opener 'Hook It Up', 'You're My Happiness' and 'Until We Say Goodbye' offered up a series of nice and commercial up-tempo pieces, but the group's calling card were old school soul ballads.  With Hamilton lead, Mccoy's 'Angel Don't Fly Away' and 'When You're Young and In Love' offered up a pair of near perfect slow grooves.  Great melodies, coupled with fantastic harmony vocals made them irresistible.   Elsewhere RCA tapped the album for a series of unsuccessful singles:

- 1975's 'Hook It Up' b/w 'The Woman I'm Being True To' (RCA Victor catalog number PB-10210)

- 1975's 'When You're Young and In Love' b/w 'I Can't Make You Love Me' RCA catalog number PB-10342)

- 1975's 'Until We Say Goodbye' b/w 'Angels Don't Fly Away' (RCA catalog number JH-10445)

- 1976's 'Beside Me' b/w 'Hey What's That Dance You're Doing' (RCA catalog number JH-10602)


Anyone into mid-1970s soul (think Chi Lites, Stylistics, etc.) should check these guys out ... 


"The 4 Choice" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hook It Up   (V Barrett - W. Beard - W. Alexander) - 4:04

2.) Angel Don't Fly Away   (Van McCoy) - 3:55

3.) Is It Love   (V Barrett - W. Beard - W. Alexander) - 3:07

4.) When You're Young and In Love   (Van McCoy) - 4:49

5.) You're My Happiness   (Van McCoy - J. Cobb) - 3:26


(side 2)
1.) Until We Say Goodbye   (Charles H. Kipps Jr.) - 4:42

2.) I'm Gonna Walk Away from Love    (Charles H. Kipps Jr.) - 3:35

3.) Happy Go Lucky Girl   (T. Huff - Chester Fortune) - 3:02

4.) Beside Me   (Walter J. Boyd) - 3:25

5.) Keep In Touch   (Van McCoy) - 4:29


This isn't a real video, rather just a picture of the debut LP, but it'll give you a feel for their sound:




Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  On Top of Clear

Company: RCA

Catalog: APL1-1400

Year: 1976

Country/State: Washington, D.C.

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5610

Price: $15.00


1976's oddly titled "On Top of Clear" continued The Choice Four's partnership with producer/arranger/writer Van McCoy (who this time out wrote most of the material).  Musically the set wasn't a major change in direction for the group, though perhaps responding to popular tastes this time out the emphasis was on up tempo numbers, including one track with a pseudo-disco feel (Two Different Worlds'').  Blessed with a pair of dynamic leads in Bobby Hamilton and Ted Maduro these guys were somewhat unique in that they were of the few soul vocal groups that seemed comfortable navigating from old school ballads like 'Just Let Me Hold for a Night' and A Beautiful Glow'' to funkier numbers like 'Hey What's That Dance You're Doing' (which would have been a killer single), 'Everybody's Got a Story' and 'Come Down To Earth' the latter two which sounded like something out of the Barrett Strong catalog.  Nice songs and nice performances, but they were trying to appeal to an audience that had already moving on to disco and other ventures.  Apparently losing interest in the group RCA only released one single off the album and it failed to do anything commercially:



- 1976's 'Just Let Me Hold for a Night' b/w 'Come Down To Earth' (RCA Victor catalog number 10714)


"On Top of Clear" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hey What's That Dance You're Doing   (Van McCoy) - 3:39

2.) Just Let Me Hold for a Night   (Charles Kipps Jr.) - 3:39

3.) A Beautiful Glow   (Van McCoy) - 4:29

4.) Everybody's Got a Story   (Van McCoy) - 4:30


(side 2)

1.) Mysterious Lady   (Van McCoy) - 4:49

2.) This Time It's for Real   (Chester Fortune - T. Huff) - 5:20

3.) Two Different Worlds   (Van McCoy) - 4:28

4.) Come Down To Earth   (Van McCoy) - 5:45