Back in 1967, The Chairmen of the Board became the flagship act of the newly formed Holland/Dozier/Holland inspired Invictus/Hotwax labels with the unmistakable lead vocal of General Johnson. As the 1970’s dawned, they scored a string of hits with “Give Me Just A Little More Time”, “You Got Me Dangling On A String”, and who could ever forget the iconic “I’m on way to a better place” – I still have to drop the stylus on that 45 every now and again. Throughout the early 70’s they became a household name here in the UK and gained international recognition too with that string of hits. When the hits became no more they later went on to become a headline act within the Carolina Beach Music Scene, with their 2002 Surfside records outing, “Bless Your Heart”, becoming a highly collectable classic. General Johnson passed away and Ken Knox came out of the group’s shadows to take over lead duties.
And so this most unexpected seven track album of which the opening track on the album is an up-to-date rework of The Major Harris Boogie Blues Band’s 1974 Atlantic records release, “Each Morning I Wake up”, not straying too far away from the original, a slice of majestic danceable soul for 2017 which sets the tone nicely for what’s to come, and if you’re looking for a modern-day comparisons then try the two albums that surfaced by the Embers in 2004 & 2008 respectively and that magical album by the Vintage Group from 2001 – lovely throwback albums that surfaced on the ‘Beach Music’ scene but with enough soul to break out into our world. Both the Soul Discovery and Soul Sermon radio shows have been hammering the title track, a stunning down-tempo ballad and one that has in fact gained so many plays it might be time to try one of the other tracks now, perhaps the Beach crooner, “No-one else”, which after a few plays really sinks in. Or the toe tapping, “Ready Willing & Able”, could put some feet onto a dance-floor near you. I also love the up-tempo “Get your lovin”, which is also here in an unnecessary ‘DJ mix’.
The main problem with albums like this is that the more experimental/progressive modern soul nights are very few and far between, the soul scene in the UK has never been more fragmented and so many good quality modern-day releases just never get picked up on, the added pressure for albums like this is the retro style of the music, but we can live in hope that if it get’s a physical release on CD/Vinyl format that it shifts enough units to make it worth the considerable efforts put in by all concerned. I’m sure there’s more to come and with Soul Junction supremo, Dave Welding, providing extensive notes it is sure to reach all the right people. For my part, I found it a great sentimental ride.
There are UK dates for a 2018 tour, so expect a real buzz about this album in the New Year.
April 19th – Under The Bridge, London
April 20th – Hamptons Sports and Leisure, Chelmsford
April 21st – The 1865, Southampton
April 26th – Gorilla, Manchester
April 27th – The Plug, Sheffield
April 28th – Dudley Town Hall, Dudley, West Midlands