DJ GRUYERE / The Chairmen Of The Board


THE CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARD
Soulclopedia
texto por DJ Gruyere para Upper Egypt Series Zine


Original

El gran espectro de los orígenes del ahora denominado groove, sonidos de los años 60 y 70, con antecedentes en el rhythm and blues, el jazz, el gospel y tradiciones antiguas de las clases negras, pobres, marginadas y, aún en varios estados, esclavizadas de la América de mediados del siglo pasado; en otros casos con raíces en lo latino y lo africano de los años precedentes. Todo ello entendiendo que en este cajón caben funk, soul, r&b, northern, southern soul, deep funk, soul psicodélico, disco, latin funk boogaloo…

The Chairmen Of The Board

Inauguramos sección con una de nuestras bandas favoritas, liderada por una de las “primeras voces” más peculiares y distintivas del soul, The Chairmen Of The Board y General Johnson. Quiénes siguen, como en su álbum de 1995 dicen, “Alive And Kicking”, en la escena de la “beach music” estadounidense, de gira habitualmente brindando a su audiencia deliciosos y fácilmente bailables hits con el feeling de finales de los 60 y principios de los 70.

Pese a que el mismo año pasado se editó su último trabajo “All In The Family” en el sello Xcel Music Group, nos centraremos en los años en que la banda golpeó tanto en Estados Unidos como en Europa con una nueva revisión del soul, llevándolo a un up-beat soul muy bailón, con temas que han dejado huella como su primer single “Give Me Just A Little More Time”, “Pay To The Piper”, “I’ll Come Crawling” o la excelente “Since The Days Of Pigtails (And Fairy Tales)”. Esto es desde el nacimiento de la banda en 1968, como uno de los buques insignes del entonces recién fundado sello Invictus, de las manos de Holland-Dozier-Holland, hasta su rotura contractual con la discográfica y la inminente disolución temporal del grupo, en 1974.

En primer lugar, merece la pena hacer una revisión a los orígenes de “General” Norman Johnson [23/05/1943, Norfolk-Virginia]. Johnson empezó cantando en el coro de la iglesia del pueblo cuando era un niño. Hasta los doce años, estuvo cantando con el grupo de gospel de su padre, The Israelites, cuando formó con compañeros de colegio la formación The Humdigers. Durante este periodo, entra en contacto con el mítico productor y compositor de Atlantic Records, Jesse Stone, con el que grabó 4 temas que nunca vieron la luz. De esa experiencia, sin embargo, Johnson sale reforzado formando en sus años de instituto la banda The Showmen, con su número uno en las listas pop y r&b de muchas ciudades estadounidenses en 1961 “It Will Stand”. La banda grabó varios temas con Minit Records y giró por Estados Unidos durante unos años.

Hasta 1968, año en que el famoso trío de productores, autores y editores formado por los hermanos Brian y Eddie Holland junto a Lamont Dozier, y tras abandonar el imperio Motown habiéndolo surtido de los mejores hits y números 1 del sello desde sus primeras composiciones de inicios de los 60, interpretados por artistas como The Supremes, Junior Walker & the All Stars, the Four Tops, Martha & the Vandellas, the Isley Brothers y tantos otros, funda el sello Invictus/Hot Wax.

Holland-Dozier-Holland tenían las piezas perfectas para lo que tendría que ser el cuarteto vocal estrella de su recién estrenado sello Invictus. Reclutaron a Johnson y a otro de los miembros-fundadores de The Showmen, Danny Woods. Junto a estos, firmaron con Eddie Custis, un joven de Philadelphia que había trabajado con Huey “Piano” Smith, Lee Andrews & the Hearts y The Clowns; y con Harrison Kennedy, canadiense ex-Stone Soul Children.

De este modo nacía el grupo que, tras su nombre inicial The Gentlemen, sería conocido como The Chairmen Of The Board. Recién instalada en Detroit, la banda empezó a trabajar en el que debería de ser su sonido junto a Holland-Dozier-Holland, al mismo tiempo, tomaban clases de rutinas coreográficas con una profesora que había trabajado con The Pips, a fin de ofrecer un directo lo más sólido posible. Hasta que, en 1970, vería la luz su primer single, “Give Me Just Little More Time”, firmado por Edyth Wayne [pseudónimo que Holland-Dozier-Holland usaban a raíz de sus disputas legales con el capo de Motown, Berry Gordy Jr.] y Ronald Dunbar. Este single llegó a número 3 en las listas Pop y número 8 en las listas r&b de forma inmediata.

En su primer, excelente y homónimo LP “The Chairmen Of The Board”, junto a este primer single, grabaron temas como “Pathces”, el primer tema que Johnson compuso para Holland-Dozier-Holland, y por el que años más tarde recibiría un Grammy como autor, a raíz de una nueva grabación de Clarence Carter; “[You’ve Got Me] Dangling On A String”, compuesto por Johnson junto a Dunbar y Wayne; o “Pay To The Piper”, firmado por Johnson, Dunbar, Wayne y Greg Perry.

El sonido de la banda se caracteriza por un up-beat soul con reminiscencias gospel [“Working On A Building Of Love”, de Holland-Dozier-Holland es quizá el guiño al gospel con más clase de la historia de la música], funk [“Men Are Getting Scarce”, con guitarras wah-wah y teclados latentes], r&b [“Everything’s Tuesday”, un dulce tema compuesto por Dumas, Dunbar y Wayne], blues [“Chairmen Of The Board”, introducido por gritos de harmónica y mantenido por guitarras de estándar blues), pop [“Hanging On To A Memory”], e incluso country [“Elmo James” es un claro ejemplo].

Estribillos pegadizos y estrofas contundentes e imperativas, todo ligado con estridentes secciones de vientos y atractivas bases rítmicas de gran calidad en sus percusiones. Liderado por una voz, la de General Johnson, llena de emoción, sentimiento y coraje. A la vez rota que dulce, castigada que amenazante, en definitiva convincente y persuasiva.

Entre 1971 y 1974, The Chairmen Of The Board giran por todo Estados Unidos y Europa, graban interesantes trabajos como “In Session” [1971], con temas brillantes como “Pay To The Piper”, interpretado en primera voz por Danny Woods, “Hanging On To A Memory”, o “When Will She Tell Me She Needs Me", perfecta definición de General Johnson como compositor, junto a Dunbar y Wayne.

“Bittersweet” [1972], grabado como trío después de que Custis dejara la banda y compuesto en su práctica totalidad por Johnson y Greg Perry. Con este álbum la banda dejó de lado las baladas mid-tempo que Custis aportaba a su sonido, con piezas como la ya mencionada “Working On A Building Of Love” [Holland-Dozier-Holland] o la pegadiza “I’m On My Way To A Better Place”. Ese mismo año, se introduce como miembro a la formación permanente de la banda el saxofonista Ken Knox, ex-The Impacts.

“Skin I’m In” [1974] que debía de ser el último álbum de la banda, y para el que Johnson y compañía querían encontrar un sonido totalmente diferente al de sus anteriores trabajos, decidieron contar con la producción de Jeffrey Bowen, que compuso para The Temptations, The Commodores, Marvin Gaye, Etta James… “Skin I’m In” se desliza en el nuevo sonido funk-rock psicodélico que, en el mismo tiempo, estaba predicando George Clinton. No en vano, la banda que acompaña a The Chairmen Of The Board en el estudio estaba formada por miembros de Funkadelic y Parliamet, dando como resultado una grabación que tiñe de pop-soul un funk rabioso y macarra, grabando incluso con Mellotron y sintetizadores. Temas como “Everybody Party All Night” o “Finders Keepers” son acompañados por baladas souleras como la versión de “Only Love Can Break A Heart”, en esta temporal despedida de The Chairmen Of The Board.

Estos últimos años se caracterizan por la tendencia a la baja de la banda, al mismo tiempo que General Johnson conseguía éxitos como compositor, firmando temas para artistas como Honey Cone [“Want Ads” y “Stick Up”], Freda Payne [“Bring The Boys Home”], One Hundred Proof Aged In Soul [la nominada al Grammy “Somebody’s Been Sleepin’ In My Bed”…].

Después de que Harrison abandonara el grupo, The Chairmen Of The Board hizo su última gira por Europa en 1976, ya sin el éxito de las anteriores y justo antes de que, ese mismo año, la banda se disolviera. Si bien, dos años más tarde, Johnson, Custis y Knox volvieron a reunir una nueva formación y, bajo el nombre de The Chairmen Of The Board, no han parado de girar por Estados Unidos, básicamente en la escena de la “Beach Music” de Carolina.



THE CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARD
Soulclopedia
words by DJ Gruyere for Upper Egypt Series Zine


Original

The spectrum of the origins of the groove now called, sounds of the 60s and 70s, with a background in rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel and ancient traditions of the black class, poor, marginalized and even in several states, enslaved in the America of the mid-nineteenth century, in other cases with roots in Latin and African previous years. All this being understood that in this drawer fit funk, soul, r & b, northern, southern soul, deep funk, psychedelic soul, disco, latin boogaloo funk ...

The Chairmen Of The Board

Section opened with one of our favorite bands, led by one of the "first voices of the most unique and distinctive soul, The Chairmen Of The Board and General Johnson. Who still, as in 1995 say their album, "Alive And Kicking" at the scene of the "beach music" U.S. tour offering his audience usually delicious and easy to dance hits with the feeling of the late 60s and early of 70.

Despite the same last year released his latest work "All In The Family" at the Xcel Music Group label, we will focus on the years when the band struck both United States and in Europe with a new revision of the soul, bringing a very up-beat soul Bailón with issues that have left an imprint as its first single "Give Me Just A Little More Time," "Pay To The Piper," "I'll Come Crawling" or excellent "Since The Days Of Pigtails (And Fairy Tales). " This is from the birth of the band in 1968 as one of the famous ships of the newly founded Invictus label in the hands of Holland-Dozier-Holland, breaking up their contract with the label and the imminent dissolution of the temporary group, 1974.

Firstly, it is worthwhile to review the origins of "General" Norman Johnson [23/05/1943, Norfolk, Virginia]. Johnson began singing in the choir of the church in the village when I was a child. Until the age of twelve, was singing with a gospel group from his father, The Israelites, when he formed with fellow Humdigers The college training. During this period, comes in contact with the legendary composer and producer of Atlantic Records, Jesse Stone, who recorded with the 4 subjects who never saw the light. From that experience, however, Johnson strengthened as his years of training at the institute banda The Showman, with its number one on lists pop r & b and many U.S. cities in 1961 "It Will Stand". The band recorded several topics focused on Minit Records and United States for some years.

Until 1968, the year that the famous trio of producers, authors and publishers formed by brothers Brian and Eddie Holland with Lamont Dozier, and after leaving the Empire Motown having the best assortment of hits and numbers from 1 to seal his first compositions early 60s, performed by artists like The Supremes, Junior Walker & the All Stars, the Four Tops, Martha & the Vandellas, the Isley Brothers and many others, founded the label Invictus / Hot Wax.

Holland-Dozier-Holland were the perfect pieces for what would be the star of his vocal quartet recently released label Invictus. Recruited Johnson and another member of The Showman-founders, Danny Woods. Besides these, they signed with Eddie Custis, a young man from Philadelphia who had worked with Huey "Piano" Smith, Lee Andrews & the Hearts and The Clowns, and with Harrison Kennedy, a Canadian ex-Stone Soul Children.

Thus was born the group, after the original name Gentlemen, it would be known as The Chairman of the Board. Newly installed in Detroit, the band began work on what should be your sound with Holland-Dozier-Holland, while taking classes choreographed routines with a teacher who had worked with The Pips, to provide a direct sound as possible. Until, in 1970, would light their first single, "Give Me Just Little More Time", signed by Edyth Wayne [pseudonym that Holland-Dozier-Holland used to root for their legal dispute with the boss of Motown, Berry Gordy Jr .] and Ronald Dunbar. This single reached number 3 in the list at number 8 pop and r & b lists with immediate effect.

In his first, and excellent namesake LP "The Chairmen Of The Board, along with the first single they recorded songs like" Pathces ", the first item on Johnson composed for Holland-Dozier-Holland, and for which years later would a Grammy as the author, following a new recording of Clarence Carter, "[You've Got Me] Dangling On A String", made by Johnson with Dunbar and Wayne, or "Pay To The Piper", signed by Johnson, Dunbar, Greg Perry and Wayne.

The sound of banda is characterized by an up-beat gospel soul reminiscent [Working On A Building Of Love ", by Holland-Dozier-Holland is perhaps the allusion to the gospel with more class in the history of music], funk [ "Men Are Getting Scarce" with wah-wah guitars and keyboards dormant], r & b [ "Everything's Tuesday", a sweet theme composed by Dumas, Dunbar and Wayne], blues [ "Chairmen Of The Board", introduced by cries of harmonic and maintained by standard blues guitar), pop [ "Hanging On To A Memory"], and even country [ "Elmo James" is an example].

Catchy chorus and stanzas compelling and imperative, all linked with strident attractive sections of winds and rhythmic foundation of high quality in their percussions. Led by one voice, that of General Johnson, full of excitement, emotion and courage. At the same time rotates it sweet, threatening to hit, ultimately convincing and persuasive.

Between 1971 and 1974, The Chairmen Of The Board revolve around United States and Europe, recorded interesting work as "In Session" [1971], with bright subjects such as "Pay To The Piper", first performed in voice by Danny Woods, " Hanging On To A Memory "and" When Will She Tell Me She Needs Me ", perfect definition of General Johnson as a composer, along with Dunbar and Wayne.

"Bittersweet" [1972], recorded as a trio after the Custis left the band and composed almost entirely by Johnson and Greg Perry. With this album the band abandoned the mid-tempo ballads that Custis brought to their sound, with pieces like the aforementioned "Working On A Building Of Love" [Holland-Dozier-Holland] or the catchy "I'm On My Way To A Better Place ". That same year, introduced to training as a member of the banda saxophonist Ken Knox, ex-The Impacts.

"Skin I'm In" [1974] that should be the last of the banda album, for which Johnson and company wanted to find a completely different sound to their previous work, they decided to produce Jeffrey Bowen, who composed for The Temptations, The Commodores, Marvin Gaye, Etta James ... "Skin I'm In" slips in the new psychedelic funk-rock sound that, at the same time, George Clinton was preaching. Not surprisingly, the accompanying band The Chairmen Of The Board in the study was comprised of members of Funkadelic and Parliamet, resulting in a recording that stains a pop-soul and funk rabid Macarro, even recording with Mellotron and synthesizers. Topics such as "Everybody Party All Night" and "Finders Keepers" are accompanied by souleras ballads like version of "Only Love Can Break A Heart", this temporary farewell to The Chairmen Of The Board.

In recent years, characterized by the downward trend of the banda, while General Johnson achieved success as a composer, signing artists such as topics for Honey Cone [ "Want Ads" and "Stick Up"], Freda Payne [ "Bring The Boys Home "], One Hundred Proof Aged In Soul [the Grammy-nominated" Somebody's Been Sleepin 'In My Bed "...].

After that Harrison left the group, The Chairmen Of The Board made its last tour of Europe in 1976, and without the success of the past and just before that same year, the band disbanded. Although, two years later, Johnson and Knox Custis again to collect a new formation and, under the name of The Chairmen Of The Board, have not stopped turning on United States, primarily in the stage of "Beach Music" Carolina.


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