While I would never lay claim to any particular city as being my be-all-end-all FAVORITE soul city, I feel a special affinity with the sound, feel, groove and messages portrayed within Chicago soul. Chicago soul has a certain swagger and pride within all of the different sounds associated with the city.
Gene Chandler had a massive hit early on in his career (the ubiquitous "Duke Of Earl") but the man's catalog is chock full of gems that have been underground fanatic favorites since their release. Whether it's the timeless ballads such as "Rainbow", or the likes of which I'm presenting today (the type of record that will fill a dancefloor or make us tap manically on our steering wheel while driving) Gene was a renaissance man in that he was equally adept as producing, writing, or performing.
First up is "Mr Big Shot" (1966); tiny indie label Constellation was on its last legs at the time of release, almost ensuring obscurity, a fact which is driven home by how difficult it is to find this record. In addition to simply being a fantastic song, this record features some of the hardest hitting snare drum bashes of the 60s which propel the song into pure groove nirvana.
Fewfolks cover James Brown, and for good reason. JB's energy and delivery are tough shoes to fill. However, on 1968's "There Was A Time", Gene arguably waxed a version that may even be a hair hotter than JB's original (and this is no slight to the Godfather). Gene bills himself as "The Woman Handler" here; in lesser hands, these claims can be laughable. However, all one has to do is listen to the effect Gene had on the ladies (heard in ecstatic screams on the "Live In 65" LP) for proof that the man could back the claim. (Collector's note- the record shown here is indeed a lovely French issued picture sleeve.)
With a backing track that was also used for Baby Huey's phenomenal cut "Hard Times", Gene brings on an incredibly sensual, hard hitting and funky sound for 1969's "In My Body's House".
I've had the pleasure of seeing Gene live, and the man still has *it*; in his 8th decade on the planet, and fifty years into his career.