General Crook

Band members                             Related acts

- General Crook -- vocals, keyboards


  supporting musicians:

- Terry Batchman -- bass

- Byron Gregory -- lead guitar

- Bernard Reed -- bass

- Louis Satterfield -- bass

- Terry Thompson -- drums

- Al Watkins -- drums

- Vincent Willis -- keyboards

- Benjamin Wright -- keyboards




- Romeo





Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  General Crook

Company: Wand

Catalog: WDS 697

Country/State: Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5832

Price: $100.00


Since childhood I'd always been a soul fan, but General Crook's kind of a special act to me in that he's the guy who turned me on to the financial rewards associated with the soul music scene.  


As far as I can tell there's no comprehensive General Crook discography out there.  This certainly isn't complete, but it's a start:


Crook grew up in Greenville, Mississippi where he played in a number of local bands.  As an 18 old, in 1963 he moved to Chicago where he eventually found a mentor in the form of former Greenville resident Burgess Gardner.  Gardner hired him as lead singer for Chicago-based The Soul Crusaders Orchestra.  The Soul Crusaders focused their attentions on local dances and clubs, but two years fronting the Soul Crusaders proved an invaluable experience and in 1969 Crook got his shot at the big time via a recording deal with Capitol.  Unfortunately the partnership proved brief, resulting in two instantly obscure 45s:


- 1969's 'In the Warmth of These Arms' b/w '' (Capitol catalog number 2492)

- 1970's 'When Love Leaves You Crying' b/w 'Hold On, I'm A Comin'' (Capitol catalog number 2720)


Dropped by Capitol 1970 saw Crook signed to Burgess and brother Walter Gardner's Chicago-based Down To Earth imprint (itself an offshoot of their Lamarr label).  Over the next two years he released a string of four singles that did well regionally and on the R&B charts:

















- 1970's 'Gimme Some' (Part 1)' b/w 'Gimme Some (Part 2)' (Down To Earth catalog number 73)  # 22 R&B

- 1970's 'Do It For Me' b/w 'Till Then' (Down To Earth catalog number 74)

- 1970's 'Get Over' b/w 'What I'm Getting Now and What I Used To Get Ain't the Same Thing' (Down To Earth catalog number 75)

- 1971's 'What Time Is It (Part 1)' b/w 'What Time Is It (Part II)' (Down To Earth catalog number 77)  # 31 R&B


Unfortunately disagreements over business practices and musical direction saw the Gardners and Crook go their separate ways.


1974 saw him reappear on Scepter's Wand subsidiary where seven years after moving to Chicago he was finally given an opportunity to record an album.  Self-produced, the cleverly titled "General Crook" found Crook also credited with arranging, playing keyboards, and writing most of the material (the one exception being a cover of Marvin Gaye's 'If This World Were Mine'). The result was simply a dynamite set of mid-1970s soul.  Powered by Crook's versatile voice and some great melodies, virtually everyone of these eight tracks had commercial potential.  Talk about a guy could do it all.  Crook effortless handled the whole musical spectrum from standard love man ballads ('The Best Years of My Life'), to hardcore George Clinton-styled funk ('Fever In the Funkhouse'). 


General Crook" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Tell Me What'Cha Gonna Do   (General Crook) - 3:42

The lead off track 'Tell Me What'Cha Gonna Do' started out as a stark ballad, showcasing Crook's pained fragile voice, but then exploded into a fantastic mid-tempo number with a killer bass Terry Batchman pattern and some tasty scratch guitar (Bryon Gregory).   rating: **** stars

2.) Reality   (General Crook) - 2:52

Opening with a deep funk groove and the sound of crying baby 'Reality' saw Crook employing a far tougher and rawer vocal attack.  Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield - eat your hearts out.  You guys never came close to writing a social statement as good as this one.  Only complaint, the song faded out just as it was starting to build up some major steam.  rating: ***** stars

3.) Fever In the Funkhouse   (General Crook) - 3:06

Oh my gosh ...  'Fever In the Funkhouse' was so get-down funky that it even got tapped as a single in France (see the picture below).  I simply dare you to try to sit still through this one.  With a mind numbing bass pattern and urgent keyboard flourishes, this one alone made the album worth owning.  rating: ***** stars

4.) The Best Years of My Life   (General Crook) - 6:12

Yeah, the spoken word intro was a bit heavy handed, but once the melody kicked in, this one was enough to put most love men to shame.  rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) Lying Cheatin' Woman   (General Crook) - 

'Lying Cheatin' Woman' opened up side two with another great slice of Clavinet-propelled funk (Crook himself).  A classic tale of a do-wrong woman, Bryon Gregory was the secret weapon on this one providing a tasty, jazzy guitar to the track.  rating: ***** stars

2.) I'm Satisfied   (General Crook) - 

Opening with an brief spoken word intro, 'I'm Satisfied' was another love man ballad.  Nice laidback keyboard dominated number that could have done well on the adult contemporary charts, had they existed at the time.  rating: *** stars

3.) Thanks But No Thanks   (General Dicerson - General Crook) - 

Probably the most commercial song on the set, 'Thanks But No Thanks' had a breezy melody and a hook that was simply radio-ready.  That probably explains why it was tapped as a single, though it doesn't explain why it was a major hit.  rating: ***** stars 

4.) If This World Were Mine   (Marvin Gaye) - 7:05

Opening with an extended monolog and slowing down the Marvin Gaye classic 'If This World Were Mine' was an okay approach to the song, but ultimately didn't improve on the original song.  rating: *** stars


Ultimately the album spun off four singles:


- 1974's 'The Best Years of My Life' b/w Testification' (Wand catalog number WND 11260)

- 1974's  'Tell Me What'Cha Gonna Do' b/w 'Reality' (Wand catalog number WND 11270)

-  1974's 'Fever In the Funkhouse' b/w 'Fever In the Funkhouse (instrumental)' (Wand catalog number WND 11276)

- 1974's  'Thanks But No Thanks' b/w 'I'm Satisfied' (Wand catalog number WND 11281)


Simply a fantastic lost soul classic that should have made Crook a major star.  You can only wonder how radio and the buying public missed this one, though it might have had something to do with the goofy cover art ...



Unfortunately the album went nowhere and Crook shifted his focus to production work, though he continued to release an occasional single.




- 1978's 'Make You An Offer' b/w 'Disco Fever' (Turf and Surf catalog number ST-1939)

- 1982's 'Main Squeeze' b/w 'Main Squeeze' (Backroom catalog number 1982) 12" pressing

- 'In This Thing Called Love' b/w '' (Crooked Road catalog number GCMP1247)  12" pressing

- 'I've Been Good To You' b/w 'In This Thing Called Love' (Crooked Road catalog number GCMP1249)  12" pressing

- 1987's 'I Can't Stand It' b/w 'Mains Squeeze / I Can't Stand It' (Expansion Funk catalog number 7) three track 12" EP