It’s summertime, and feel good uplifting collections of quality, luxurious and contemporary soul tunes come no better than this. “Soul Shine” is hot! Starting with new Atlanta sensation Leon Timbo with an exclusive, the magnificent “You’re My Darling” already contributing to the soundtrack of summer 2015. Tracks by Crossroads, Soul Talk, Tony Remy, Neo, Victor Haynes all prolific in soul charts but not previously available on CD until now, much like the two stunning Nigel Lowis mixes for Ola Onabule and Samuel D. Sanders, current 7” wonders, but now in their full length glory with the closest anyone has got to re-creating the sound of Phialdelphia in the 21st century! Here too is an exclusive from Sheree Brown in another brand new collaboration with Soul Talk, more Philly magic from Victor Fields with an amazing tribute to Lou Rawls, Russian soul from Olga with Incognito for the first time on CD, Bulgarian soul and jazz fusion from Ruth Koleva, a gorgeous duet from Tracy Hamlin and Frank McComb and much much more!
1. The Hopkins Bros - Shake Cheri 2:29
2. Candi-Bars - You're The One 3:34
3. The Mansions - Stop, Let Your Heart Be Your Guide 4:59
4. Elbowed-Out - In The Book Of Guiness 4:53
5. Citation - We've Come A Long Way 4:57
6. Matural Impulse - She Went Away 4:37
7. Curt Darin - Two On A Cloud 3:27
8. Jesse JAmes - I Don't Want A Divided Love - 2:52
9. The Hopkins Bros - Kiss Of Fire 2:47
10. The Tret J's - We Got A Thing Going On 2:49
11. The Mansion - The Girl Next Door 4:09
12. Candi-Bars - I Believe In You 2:06
13. Citation - Inspiration Of My Life 2:29
14. The Trey J's - I Found It All In You 1:45
15. Oliver Cheatham - Good Guys Don't Make Good Lovers - 3:50
16. The Coalitions - Colour Me Blue 4:52
We Got A Sweet Thing Going On is a compilation album dedicated to the art of the harmony soul sound. A genre that was founded in the Doo-wop era of the 1950’s and embraced and continued by the generation that it influenced into the 1970’s.
Although often regarded as a genre performed by vocal groups we have used some poetic license by including three solo outings such as Curt Darin’s (a.k.a Curtis Gadson) mellifluous “Two On A Cloud” as well as two recent unissued gems from the late Oliver Cheatham “Good Guys Don’t Make Good Lovers” the flipside of his now deleted 2012 smash “Don’t Pop The Question (If You Can’t Take The Answer)”. Followed by Jesse James with his sublime “I Don’t Want A Divided Love”.
The group’s featured in this compilation begin with the highly desirable Hopkins Brothers northern/funk anthem “Shake Cheri“ accompanied by the previously unissued full length version of their Magnetik 45’s flipside “Kiss Of Fire”.
Seattle outfit Elbowed-Out are included with their “In The Book Of Guiness” a previously unissued sweet soul ballad that’s a complete contrast to their recently released uptempo, Soul Junction 70’s dance tracks. Moving down the Western Sea Board we also feature Richmond California’s “Natural Impulse” with their now timeless modern soul anthem “She Went Away”. Milwaukee is well represented by former prison group “The Mansion” featuring both sides of their illusive 45 “Stop, Let Your Heart Be Your Guide” and “The Girl Next Door” which they recorded (while still in incarcerated) for the independent Gibbs label. The other Brewtown outfit featured is the Candi-Bars with their crossover classic “I Believe In You” followed by their harmonious “You’re the One” which appeared on their own custom Candi-Stix label.
From the same Detroit production team that gave us the previously mentioned Curt Darin release, Probe 1Productions, we have included both sides of their Red Line release on vocal group The Citation “Inspiration Of My Life” and “We’ve Come A Long Way” the latter featuring a live audience.
Atlanta, Georgia duo The Trey J’s contribution is both sides of their solitary Tee Fletcher produced 45 release. The popular horn driven “I Found It All In You” and the more soulful ballad “We Got A Thing Going On”, the track which inspired the title for this compilation.
Last but not least featured is the Philadelphia outfit “The Coalitions” with the title track of their recently discovered “Colour Me Blue” album that had remained in the can since the late 1970s.
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In 1969, a 20 year old Charles Lorenzo Blakely along with fellow members of the street gang he hung out with became involved in a shoot out with another rival Milwaukee street gang which resulted in the death of one of their rivals members.
Following the arrival of the Police, the shoot out developed into a high speed car chase with Charles being the driver of one of one of the evading vehicles. Charles’s vehicle was eventually brought to a halt when the Cops shot all four tyres out which caused the car to crash at 90mph into a department store called Schuster’s Warehouse. The other occupants of the vehicle managed to get away with the exception of Charles (who himself was packing a gun) being shot twice by the Cops in the back and shoulder as tried to vacate the vehicle as well as sporting a broken arm received in the crash.
Following his arrest and conviction he was sentenced to 30 years for ‘Attempted 1st Degree Murder’ (due to the shots being exchanged with the Police) and a consecutive 10 year sentence for ‘Eluding’ (evading) arrest in a high speed car chase. After a subsequent retrial Charles as the car driver was found not to have been directly involved in actually shooting at the Police, so the initial 30 year sentence was quashed. This left Charles to continue serving his other 10 year sentence at the high security Green Bay Reformatory in Allouez, Wisconsin.
At the time a common practice within the US Prison System was to encourage inmates who had shown some musical ability to channel their energy into performing as groups for their own and their inmate’s entertainment. Thus in 1970 Charles Blakely formed his first ensemble under the name of the Mansion, a name he chose after reading a book on English Stately Homes!
The warden later gave them permission to perform outside the prison which brought them to the attention of a Milwaukee neighbourhood program adviser by the name of Al Dunlap of the Commando Project One. It was through Dunlap that The Mansion recorded their solitary 45 release in 1974 “The Girl Next Door /Stop! Let Your Heart Be Your Guide” for the local Milwaukee label Gibbs (406). The label’s owner Bill Gibbs held the release back until some of the members of The Mansion were granted their release papers, as Prisoners were unable to sign contract agreements while still incarcerated at that time.
Although Charles Blakely remained incarcerated, he was later moved to a medium security prison in Fox Lake County, Wisconsin. While there he formed a further group, a gospel ensemble called the ‘Bell Tones’ who’s line up included Charles, Mayweather Lee, Joe Hayes, and Levell Rudd. The formation of this group was seen as major factor in Charles’s rehabilitation which led to his eventual parole in late 1976, thus serving 7 years of his initial 10 year sentence.
The group line-up as follows:
Back row Left to Right: Michael Locke- Ronald Hardin- Morris Payne- Charles Blakely
Front Row Left To Right: Carl Anderson- John Crawford.
Words By: David Welding
Acknowledgements to: Charles L. Blakely for the colourful interview and photographs.
Label scans courtesy of Mark (Butch) Dobson.
The above article is an extended version from the sleeve notes of the forthcoming Soul Junction CD album “We Got A Sweet Thing Going On” catalogue number SJCD 5009. Which will feature both sides of ‘The Mansion’ 45.