Saturday, 23 August 2008

Major Lance - Major's Greatest Hits + Extras

81 MB
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Okeh 12110

Major Lance was a popular soul star in the 60s, riding the crest of Curtis Mayfield's wave as it washed over Chicago and then the rest of the world. Curtis was a staff producer at Okeh and was cranking out souls hits for its stable of acts as well as his Impressions on ABC. Major was one of those artists and he enjoyed his highest level of artistic and commercial during his years at the label. In fact, Curtis wrote music and lyrics for all but two of these hits; all in the Top 40, most in the Top 10 and "The Monkey Time" hit #2 in 1963. That same year the Impressions reached #1 on the pop and R&B charts with "It's Alright" and in the next year he would write a spate of hits, with five tracks making it to the top of both Pop & R&B charts, "Keep On Pushin'" likely the best known. During the time Major Lance was under his stewardship, Mayfield was on fire.

Much of this success should also be credited to Carl Davis (one of the unsung heroes of soul as mentioned in his AMG bio and a personal fave producer) and Johnny Pate, who also contributed arrangements for most of these tunes. Those three cats were basically responsible for what's known as the "Chicago Soul" sound which AMG describes as "a sound based on laid-back yet effervescent soul, with sweet vocals and a stinging horn section." Personally, that's my favourite brand of soul and R&B from the 60s and often the 70s as well.

I had a discussion about "desert island discs" with
WeFunk's Professor Groove at our nascent Rockdeep night, back at the turn of the century. Already an avowed hardcore Curtis fan for over a decade, I claimed if I had to choose between the output of Mayfield and James Brown in an either/or proposition then it would be Curtis in a heartbeat - as much as I love the Godfather, his breadth and depth just can't match. I took a lot of stick from the funkster's round table for it at the time but I'll stand by that statement no matter what. I think the Prof sees where I'm coming from these days, though!

1 The Monkey Time
2 Come See
3 Sometimes I Wonder
4 Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um
5 Girls
6 Sweet Music
7 Ain't It A Shame
8 Hey Little Girl
9 The Matador
10 Rhythm
11 Ain't No Use
12 Gotta Get Away


Follow The Leader
Gonna Get Married
I'm The One Who Loves You
It's The Beat
Since You've Been Gone
Think Nothing About It
You Don't Want Me No More
You'll Want Me Back
You're Everything I Need

A few of the extras were culled from my copy of the 1995 comp Curtis Mayfield's Chicago Soul and the rest were accumulated over the years and ripped from vinyl comps & 45s or dl'ed from slsk/kazaa/napster. You don't see too much Major Lance floating around the blogs, which is a shame since you'd think that someone so popular, with such a wonderful voice and such superb material would have a higher profile.

Perhaps it was the post-Okeh output that caused the public to lose interest or the fact he (like so many of Chicago's soul survivors) was overshadowed by Curtis in later years. Unfortunately, as his popularity waned and he got into sketchier aspects of the music industry he was eventually arrested for dealing the bolivian botox in the late 70s. Outside of the Northern Soul scene in the UK he's pretty much fallen by the wayside but, to quote fellow Chicagoans the Chi-Lites, he was too good to be forgotten.

Major on the tube circa '63 with The Monkey Time

If you dig a bit, you can find any of numerous greatest hits collections on various (mostly budget) labels with little difference in track listings. The one posted by Soundological is the 1st put out by Okeh and was distributed in Canada by Epic, so likely a 1976 reissue (Epic released two of their own Major Lance compilations that year). I've had this since the late 80s but every once in a while I come across it in a store for $5 - $10 and pick it up anyway. Until you have the same luck, you can listen to more sweet urban soul by one of the premier performers from the Curtis & Okeh camp HERE or HERE.


jahcisco said...

thank you.

djandpete said...

fantastic i love this thanks

cheeba said...

you're more than welcome jahcisco and djandpete!

richsoul said...

Thanx album just didn't sound right anymore thank you.

cheeba said...

You're welcome, richsoul!

Anonymous said...

nice one.... ive got monkey/the beat/aint no soul/rhythm/you dont want me no more.... lookin forward to hearin the rest....