The Independents


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1971-73)

- Helen Curry -- vocals

- Chuck Jackson -- vocals

- Maurice Jackson -- vocals

- Marvin Yancy (RIP 1985)  -- vocals, keyboards

 

  line up 2 (1973)

- Helen Curry -- vocals

- Chuck Jackson -- vocals

- Maurice Jackson -- vocals

NEW - Eric Thomas -- vocals (replaced Marvin Yancy)

 

 

 

- Helen Curry (solo efforts)

- Chuck Jackson (solo efforts)

- Maurice Jackson (solo efforts)

- Maurice (Maurice Jackson)

- Maurice and the E.T. Group (Maurice Jackson)

- Marvin Yancy (solo efforts)

 

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Chuck, Helen, Eric, Maurice

Company: Wand

Catalog: WDS 696
Year:
 1973

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 6337

Price: $15.00

 

The Independents' sophomore album 1973's "Chuck, Helen, Eric, Maurice" featured a personnel change - original member Marvin Yancy replaced by Eric Thomas.  While Yancy dropped out of active performing, he continued his working relationship with the group, but this time around in the role of songwriter and producer.  Co-produced by Jackson and Yancy, the album seemingly sought to find a balance between past successes and some new directions.  While the heavy reliance on ballads certainly served the group well on the debut album (wracking up a series of radio hits), Jackson and Yancy were smart enough to avoid falling into an aural trap with this album.   There were still plenty of old school ballads showcasing Chuck Jackson's lead vocals (though Curry was notably absent throughout the set).  'The First Time We Met' and the breezy 'Lucky Fellow' were first rate ballads, easily as good as anything on the debut   Less impressive were the single 'It's All Over' and the closer 'Sara Lee'.  That said, this time around the highlights came in the form of the group's atypical offerings; among them the bluesy The Same Old Way'' and the up tempo numbers 'No Wind, No Rain' and 'Show Me How'. 

 

back left to right: Maurice Jackson - Eric Thomas - Chuck Jackson; front Helen Curry

 

"Chuck, Helen, Eric. Maurice" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) It's All Over   (Chuck Jackson - Marvin Yancy) - 3:40

Tapped as the album's only single, 'It's All Over' has always struck me as one of the set's weakest numbers.  A hyper-sensitive, heavily orchestrated, Gospel-tinged ballad, to my ears this one almost sounded like a parody of mid-1970s soul groups with Jackson screeching in pain, begging forgiveness for a multitude of domestic sins ...   walk out the door baby.  You can do better. 

 

- 1973's 'It's All Over' b/w 'Sara Lee' (Wand catalog number WND-11263-A/B) # 65 pop; # 13 R&B  rating: ** stars 

2.) No Wind, No Rain   (Chuck Jackson - Marvin Yancy) - 2:54

One of their rare up-tempo numbers, 'No Wind, No Rain' was easily one of the album's standout performance.  I'm not sure who handled the lead on this one, but sporting one of those melodies that climbed into your head and wouldn't leave, this one has always reminded me of one of those fantastic Gladys Knight and the Pips hits.   Classic backing vocals to boot !    rating: **** stars

3.) The Same Old Way   (Chuck Jackson - Marvin Yancy) - 3:25

Another one of the album's standout performances, 'The Same Old Way' deserved attention simply for the fact it was so different from their normal work.  Kicked along by a barebones bass pattern and some of Yancy's churchy keyboards, the song offered up a tough, pounding, blues-tinged performance.  If you thought Jackson could only handle light ballads, then this was a revelation.   rating: **** stars

4.) I Found Love On a Rainy Day   (M. Barge - J. Jiles) - 2:35

One of two non-originals, 'I Found Love On a Rainy Day' was probably the album's most blatantly commercial offering.  Showcasing a nice melody and some beautiful backing harmony vocals, it's always reminded me of something Thom Bell might have penned for The Spinners.  This was the track Wand should have tapped as a single.   rating: **** stars

5.) The First Time We Met   (Chuck Jackson - Marvin Yancy) - 4:11

A pretty and precious ballad, 'The First Time We Met' was a much more typical Jackson-Yancy offering.  It was the perfect example of what the pair did well (showcasing another gorgeous melody and Jackson's heart wrenching lead vocals) and their artistic shortcomings (there wasn't a single original note over the three minutes).  Surprising it wasn't tapped as a single.  YouTube has a clip of the group lip synching the song on Soul Train: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hUYMNSuiAM   rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) In the Valley of My World   (Chuck Jackson - Marvin Yancy) - 4:25

Opening up with some nice Yancy keyboards, 'In the Valley of My World' took awhile to get into gear, but was ultimately another winning ballad with Jackson and Thomas (?) sharing the lead vocals.  Actually Curry stole the show when her vocal came in at the end of the track.   rating: *** stars

2.) One Woman Do Right Man   (Chuck Jackson - Marvin Yancy) - 3:19

Another personal favorite, 'One Woman Do Right Man' had another catchy melody, more first-rate bass, some punchy horn charts, and some great call-and-response harmonies that served to showcase the group's sterling backing vocals.    rating: **** stars

3.) Show Me How   (Chuck Jackson - Marvin Yancy) - 3:07

The pounding bass opening on 'Show Me How' recalled something Norman Whitefield might have written for The Temptations.   Anyone who thought these guys could only handle light ballads needs to check this one out.  Simply a killer tune.   rating: **** stars

4.) Lucky Fellow   (G. Dickerson - C. Boyd) - 3:37

The album's best ballad, 'Lucky Fellow' managed to avoid their usual hyper-sensitivity in favor of a charming melody and a breezy, carefree vocal.  Boy they sure knew how to churn out some wonderful harmony vocals ...  rating: **** stars

5.) Sara Lee   (Chuck Jackson - Marvin Yancy) - 3:29

On the heels of their best ballad, came their worst performance - the sappy and forgettable 'Sara Lee'.      rating: ** stars 

 

It's always struck me as kind of funny that critics favor the first album while my tastes tilt to this one.  I've always been a sucker for a great ballad, but this one had much greater variety.  A couple more up tempo numbers and some promotion from Wand and this would have been a classic rather than an also-ran.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And with the exception of a couple of non-LP singles and a posthumous 'best of'' collection (1974's "Discs of Gold" Wand catalog number WDS-699), that was it for The Independents.  Reportedly increasingly unhappy with Sceptor/Wand management's booking keeping and the lack of royalties, Jackson and Yancy subsequently turned their attentions to writing and production, scoring their biggest successes working with Natalie Cole.  Yancy was even briefly married to Cole.   Both Jackson and Yancy recorded solo albums.  Sadly, Yancy suffered a fatal heart attack in 1985. 

 

 

 

 

 

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