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GENE CHANDLER: CHISOUND SESSIONS 1978-1982 (SPV BLUE)
Ah, Mr “Duke Of Earl” returns with three original albums one this one CD which, by anyone’s standards, is terrific value. Gene epitomised Chicago soul, the city in which he was born as Eugene Dixon, and here are the tracks that represent the last to be recorded there for Chi Sound, founded by record producer Carl Davis in 1976, after cutting his musical teeth with Vee Jay and Okeh. And it was he, either alone or with Gene, who was responsible for the production credits on the trio of albums – “When You’re # 1”, “’80” and “Here’s To Love”. Briefly then, while at the Englewood High School, Gene formed The Gaytones in 1955, and two years later joined The Dukays. He was drafted into the US Army, to be stationed in Germany from 1957-1960, and upon discharge rejoined the group he left behind. They recorded for the Nat label, then he changed his name to Gene Chandler to pursue a solo career. Everyone knows “Duke Of Earl”, his top selling R&B hit of 1962, and the raft of US hits while signed to Checker, Brunswick and Mercury, among other labels. Switching to Chi Sound he enjoyed the cross over hit “Get Down”, followed by the dancer “When You’re # 1” and the full blooded smoothie “Do What Comes So Natural” from the first mentioned album. “Does She Have A Friend?” was another from “’80”, followed by “I’ll Make The Living If You Make The Loving Worthwhile”, one of several bonus tracks here, including his rarest items like “I Keep Coming Back” and “Baby You’re Something In The Church”. The engaging ballad “I’ll Be There” with Barbara Acklin is gorgeous; likewise “I Keep Coming Back”, high on chorus and melody, and plush vocals. This is a mammoth collection from a guy who effortlessly crossed into mainstream music, yet his popularity wavered as the buying markets changed. However, if anyone had doubts about Gene’s talent, or his mighty contribution to soul music, should give this a listen. Although not one of my favourite vocalists, I sure respect and appreciate the way he styles a song to bring life to the written lyric. He’s authentically talented, mingling passion with subtleness, but always with a gracefulness befitting an artist of this stature. Highly recommended.

Rating: 8

About the Writer
Sharon Davis ran the Four Tops fan club before spearheading Motown Ad Astra, catering for all the Motown acts, where she edited the in-house magazine TCB. Was publicist for Fantasy, Stax and Salsoul before joining Motown Records in London. Formed her own press/promotion company Eyes & Ears, worked for Blues & Soul magazine and website, and became a full time author and researcher. To date Sharon has written eleven books (her last A Girl Called Dusty published by Carlton Books) and she’s working on her next - Divas Of Motown. As a researcher, Sharon assisted Diana Ross with her autobiography Secrets Of A Sparrow, and is now in constant demand for her knowledge about Motown and its artists.
  
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