Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tavares - Hard Core Poetry

The five-brother singing group Tavares may be best known for such up-tempo hits as the million-selling single "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel," "More Than a Woman," and "Whodunit," but they first came to national attention with the luscious ballad "Check It Out." Their crisp vocalizing and clean-cut, young-men-next-door image made them favorites on TV shows starring Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, and Dick Clark's American Bandstand. In 1974, Tavares also had the first hit version (number one R&B) of "She's Gone" written by the then relatively unknown duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates. Hall & Oates scored a number seven pop hit with the song in 1976.

The Tavares brothers — Arthur Tavares, Ralph Vierra Tavares, Perry Lee Tavares, Antone Tavares, and Feliciano Tavares nicknamed "Pooch," "Tiny," "Chubby," and "Butch" — started the group in 1964 as Chubby and the Turnpikes in New Bedford, MA. Their grandparents taught them traditional Cape Verde folk songs, while their older brother John schooled them on doo wop singing. In 1969, the group became Tavares. They began singing in New England clubs and were signed to Capitol Records in 1973.

Their debut album, Check It Out, was issued in early 1974. The title track slow jam single went to number five R&B on Billboard's charts in summer 1973. The next single, the ballad "That's the Sound That Lonely Makes," hit number ten R&B in early 1974.

Check It Out was followed by Hard Core Poetry in the summer of 1974, helmed by songwriting/production duo Dennis Lambert & Brian Potter (the Four Tops' "Aint No Woman Like the One I Got"). It listed the soaring number ten hit "Too Late," the number one hit "She's Gone," and "Remember What I Told You to Forget," which hit number four in 1975.

Lambert & Potter produced the brother's next album, In the City, released during the summer of '75. The set yielded three singles, the number one hit "It Only Takes a Minute," a cover of the Edgar Winter Group's 1973 pop smash, "Free Ride," and "The Love I Never Had."

Tavares' next album, Sky High (spring 1976) was the group's first collaboration with producer Freddie Perren. Perren seemed to have an affinity for family singing groups, having had hits with the Jackson 5 ("I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save") as a member of the Motown arrangers/songwriters/producers collective The Corporation, and would later go to have hits with the Sylvers ("Boogie Fever"). Sky High boasted the sparkling number three R&B hit "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel (Part 1)" from summer 1976.

Their fifth LP, Love Storm was issued in spring 1977 and included the clever number one R&B hit "Whodunit" in spring 1977. A greatest hits set, The Best of Tavares, was released in the fall of the same year.

"More Than a Woman" was specifically written for Tavares by the Bee Gees and was issued as a single from the blockbuster Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. "More Than a Woman" was also on their Future Bound LP released in spring 1978.

On 1979's Madame Butterfly LP, the group worked with Philly soul arranger/producer Bobby Martin (the Manhattans, LTD). The sweet ballad "Never Had a Love Like This Before" went to number five R&B in early 1979.

At the start of the 1980s, Tavares left Capitol Records, signing with RCA. They had one last major hit, the ballad "A Penny for Your Thoughts", from their 1982 New Directions album. Sadly, subsequent releases failed to match this success.

In 1983, after the release of their Words & Music album, brother Ralph stepped down from the group, and Tiny left in the mid 1990s, but the other three members continued to tour.

In 1994, Canadian label Unidisc released The Best of Tavares Revisited, which had re-recordings by the group of their past hits.

In 2004, Tavares released the EP Old Dawg New Tricks on the indie Eye Candy imprint. For this release, Butch Tavares handled both the production and writing duties. The CD is now available over at As of this writing, Butch and his wife Elizabeth are living somewhere in New Hampshire where he produces local talent.

Source: Tweaked from the writings of Ed Hogan, All Music Guide.

Unfortunately, Hard Core Poetry is long out of print but you can still find an original vinyl copy on the cheap right here or here.

Featured cut: "Too Late"

Listen to the full album here

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Quickie: Al Hudson & Soul Partners - I'm About Lovin' You

"I'm About Lovin' You!!" I've been looking for an original copy of this 45 for ages now and I can't seem to catch one for less than a car payment. A copy just sold on the 'bay for over 2 bills!!! Somehow I just can't see myself laying out that kinda dough for a 45 unless I was makin' a livin' off my collection like Gilles Peterson or Felix Hernandez. Oh well, maybe I'll get lucky and come up on one buried in a dusty basement or backroom one of these days. Anyway, Detroit's Al Hudson & Soul Partners (later to become "Al Hudson & The Partners" then "One Way Featuring Al Husdon" and then finally "One Way") brought us this one in 1975 recording for the Atco label.

If you like what you hear and wanna try and snag an original pressing of your own you can break out that checkbook and patiently wait until the next copy pops up for sale at Gemm or ebay. On the flipside, if you don't wanna sell a kidney or you're more interested in the music than the medium on which it's delivered you can also cop the tune on an excellent Rhino UK comp called You Better Believe It!, Vol. 2 here or here for a nominal fee.


Friday, June 13, 2008

David T. Walker - On Love

A top session guitarist since the '70s, David T. Walker has never been an upfront soloist or flashy stylist. But his rhythm guitar and steady timekeeping skills have been heard on sessions by numerous artists. The list includes Marvin Gaye, Pharaoh Sanders, Aretha Franklin, Barry White, Levert, Bobbi Humphrey, Johnny Bristol, Leon Ware, Stephanie Mills, and the Crusaders.

Not to be known solely as a session player, throughout the years Walker has had a number of releases as a headliner as well for such labels as Revue, Zea and Ode among others. Unfortunately, David's foray into solo performance didn't fare so well and his albums never became top sellers.

For this post I've dug out one of Walker's Ode-era albums. 1976's On Love was produced by Crusaders members Joe Sample and Wilton Felder. Overall its a very mellow piece with a few uptempo numbers sprinkled throughout. Walker attempts his own spin on two Minnie Riperton covers, "Our Lives" and "Lovin' You" (both from her Perfect Angel set). The latter features rhythm guitar by Ray Parker Jr. I might be wrong but I could swear singer Leon Thomas also makes and a guest cameo on the album. His name is nowhere on the jacket so, like I said, I might be wrong but you can hear him ad libbing towards the end of "I Wish You Love."

Source: edited & tweaked from an article by Ron Wynn featured on

On Love is long out of print on vinyl but you can still get a copy without much trouble right here. In 2007 the album was reissued on CD by the Japanese Visual Arts label. You can pick one up here.

Featured cut: "Windows Of The World"

Listen to the full album here