Eugene Record ‘Eugene Record’/’Trying To Get To You’ (Expansion) 4/5

eugene-recordAs well as being the lead singer of the Chi-Lites, Eugene Record enjoyed a separate solo career and the first two albums that he cut for Warner Brothers in 1977 and 1978 are showcased here on a twofer that illustrates how strong the Chicago music industry still was in the mid-late 1970s. Some of the cream of the Windy City’s studio musicians were on hand to offer support and these included members of the Earth, Wind and Fire brass section as well as jazz guitarist Phil Upchurch. A modern soul classic is contained on the first album in the sublime ‘Overdose of joy’ and this is deserving of a place on any best of 1970s compilation and it is surely one Record’s finest ever compositions. Nothing quite hits that heady height, but there is nonetheless a well balance selection of mid-tempo and ballad numbers and this is exemplified by ‘Here comes the sun’ (not the George Harrison classic, but instead a self-penned Record composition) which is an altogether classy affair with lovely harmonies and instrumentation that is not without recalling Marvin’s ‘I want you’ production house. Fans of the Quiet Storm sub-genre will be in lovers heaven when listening to songs of the calibre of ‘Love don’t live by sex alone’ and ‘Putting it down (to the way I feel about you)’. Even the uptempo numbers, which pay a passing nod to the disco era then in its ascendancy remain deeply soulful and this is certainly the case with ‘Danger! Love under pressure’.

The second album is notable for an original version of a song that became a cult rare groove number when later interpreted by Valerie Carter and this is ‘Trying to get to you’. Marvin Gaye’s influence can be heard further in the intro and mid-tempo shuffle of ‘We belong together’ and this is a stand out track that has been sampled. Throughout the albums the attention to detail in the use of brass and strings is supremely subtle and no better is this exemplified than on the gentle groove of ‘Come to my party’. Several of the songs on the two albums have been sampled extensively by a younger generation and that is a clear indication of how influential Eugene record has become. After recording his final album for Warner in 1979, Record became a born again Christian and enjoyed a parallel career in gospel while simultaneously performing sporadically with the Chi-Lites until he passed away in 2003.

Tim Stenhouse