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Chicago Steppers


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New VariousHerb Kent Chicago El Stop ... CD
Chicago Steppers, 2010. New Copy ... Out Of Stock
Gone are the classic moves from the soul oldies years, and gone are even the very mellow, very slow steps from the 90s – and in their place are some more upbeat, full body-styled moves – showing a definite influence from the hip hop generation. Slides include the Turbo, Jamie Foxx, Wobble, El Stop, Wobble, Twist, James Brown, Cupid, Steppers, AKA Gangster, and the Woody Pop CD
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BohannonInsides Out ... CD
Dakar/Solid (Japan), 1974. New Copy ... $22.99
A wonderful early record from Bohannon – and with a very different feel than usual! Although most of Bohannon's work from the time is up-tempo and funky, side two of this album has some amazing slow spacey cuts – done with a drum sound that's still quite hard, but just slower than usual, in a style that creates some nice stepping grooves that are augmented by some wild off-beat, out-of-tune piano work! Sounds like it shouldn't work, but it does – and the ultimate moment on the album is the amazing "Thoughts And Wishes", a cool instrumental that's been a major steppers track in Chicago for years. Side one is more in the usual Bohannon funk mode – and tracks on the album include "Disco Stomp", "Foot Stompin Music", "Love Is Fading", and "Happy Feeling". CD

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VariousBest Of Brunswick – Love Songs & Ballads ... CD
Brunswick/Solid (Japan), Late 60s/Early 70s. New Copy ... $7.99
Beautiful work from Brunswick Records – one of our favorite sources for mellow soul in the early 70s – and a label who could handle the genre like nobody else! Brunswick had a way of recording tracks in a style that's full, yet still very up close and personal too – and which often has a slight undercurrent of funk, even when the tunes are moving slowly – a strong precursor to the heavier bottom that you'd get in R&B ballads in decades to come, but which Brunswick and its Chicago team seemed to virtually invent themselves! This approach makes the whole set way more groovy than you'd guess from anything with "love songs" or "ballads" in the title – no sleepy late nite tracks, but instead those Chicago slow steppers that always still have a nice bite! Tracks include "She's Heaven" by The Artistics, "Have You Seen Him" by Dana Valery, "You Hurt Me For The Last Time" by Otis Clay, "I Had It All The Time" by Tyrone Davis, "Until You Return" by Ginji James, "The Girl Don't Care" by Gene Chandler, "Stop I Don't Need No Sympathy" by Odyssey 5, "I Want To Be Your Special Man" by The Directions, and "Someone Else's Arms" by Barbara Acklin. CD

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New Lem WinchesterLem's Beat ... CD
Prestige (Japan), 1960. New Copy ... Out Of Stock
Detroit vibist Lem Winchester cut too few albums in his brief career before his untimely death in the early 60s – but all of them are plenty darn great, and rank right up there with the best work of the period by Johnny Lytle or Freddie McCoy! Although not as all-out funky as fellow Detroiter Lytle, Winchester did play in a style that was down and dirty, with a tight groove that still appeals to soul jazz fanatics and jazzy steppers here in Chicago. This album's one of his best, and features some very rootsy tenor work by Oliver Nelson, plus some excellent alto solos by Curtis Peagler, who at the time was working with the obscure group The Modern Jazz Disciples. Art Taylor's on drums, and the whole set snaps right in the pocket with a deep soul jazz groove! The best tracks are nice and long, and titles include "Eddy's Dilemma", "Lem & Aide", "Lady Day", and "Your Last Chance". CD

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New ImpressionsCome To My Party/Fan The Fire ... CD
Chi Sound/SPV (Germany), 1978/1981. New Copy ... Out Of Stock
A pair of Chi-Sound label releases from The Impressions – back to back on a single CD! Come To My Party is a sweet late 70s gem from The Impressions – an album of smooth grooves and soulful steppers – and one that really shows the group flourishing in a new style at the time! Some of the group's Chicago contemporaries tried to move forward at the time, but few did things this well – still keeping the core sense of harmony and soul intact, while also finding new rhythms and some new warmer styles of instrumentation as well. Of course, it also helps that they're getting help from longtime Chicago soul producer Carl Davis – who's very respectful of the trio on the record, and clearly has a good repoire with Fred Cash, Sam Gooden, and Reggie Torian. And while the groovers are nice, the mellow ones are even better – great slow-stepping cuts that include "All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You", "Maybe I'm Mistaken", and "I Could Never Make You Stay" – nestled alongside tracks that include "Sorry", "This Can't Be Real", and "Come To My Party". Fan The Fire has a great mix of grooving rhythms and super-tight harmonies – really well-crafted vocals that prove that the group are still light years ahead of most of their younger contemporaries! The Impressions are a quartet this time around – with the trio of Sam Gooden, Fred Cash, and Reggie Torian re-joined by Nate Evans – whose leads really help things soar here, in a great match for the upbeat, positive arrangements of Tom Tom 84 and Sonny Sanders. With Carl Davis and Eugene Record at the helm on production, the album's overflowing with great Chicago soul talent – and tracks include "Take Everything", "I Surrender", "I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love", "Love Love Love", "Fan The Fire", and "For Your Precious Love 81". CD