Act – 1974 – Act 1
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Rip and research by Mr.Moo
Posting & additional info’s by Nikos
An obscure soul group, but a great one – equally at home with a fragile harmony tune as they were with more uptempo groovers for the dancefloor! This one and only album from Act One is a perfect illustration of the best two sides of the east coast indie soul scene of the early 70s – because some tunes are spare, simple, and heartbreaking – really building off the best qualities of 60s harmony soul, but with a lot more sophistication – while others are bolder, more upbeat, and positive – really using the new studio modes of the time to send a few tunes really over the top! The mix is quite similar to Black Ivory at their best – although the album’s more under-discovered treasure – and although it’s the only record ever by the group, it’s got a solidity that should have made them as big as any of the 70s stars on Atlantic or Philly International!
A1 Party Hardy People 3.44
A2 I Don’t Want To Know What You Do To Me 2.58
A3 Still Water 5.06
A4 Goodbye Love (We’re Through) 2.13
A5 Friends Or Lover’s 3.18
B1 It’s The Same Old Story 3.07
B2 You Didn’t Love Me Anyhow 4.34
B3 Love’s Got Your Mind 2.34
B4 Dump ‘N From The Middle 3.29
B5 Tom The Peeper 2.18
B6 Do You Feel It 2.53
West Coast producer/writer Rafael Gerald, already renowned for producing and writing much of Millie Jackson‘s first three albums, hoped to strike gold again when he launched Act One in 1972 in Los Angeles. The core group included Reginald Ross, George Barker, and Roger Terry, session men Gerald had worked with in the past. Assembling as Act One, this slick, jamming band signed to Spring Records and recorded their eponymous debut for release in 1973.
Although the album itself never took off, it did unreel several minor hit singles. February 1973 brought the Top 30 R&B smash “Friends of Lovers“. Backed with “I Never Had a Love Like Yours,” the song hovered just out of the pop Top 100. July then saw the band score with another, markedly less-successful (number 90) summertime single, “Takes Two of Us”/”Whole Lotta Lovemaking“, before they dropped out of sight in the United States.
Although Act One may have disappeared in their homeland, 1974 brought them a brief revitalization in England when another single, “Tom the Peeper“, was plucked off the album to become a monstrous Northern soul club hit and a minor national chart entry — the single debuted at number 40 on the U.K. pop charts for the week of May 18, 1974. The song did nothing stateside, however, and Act One disbanded not long after, leaving Gerald to move on to other production projects. He would come full circle in 1999, reuniting with Jackson on her Between the Sheets LP.
One of the greatest of all the so-called “lost” funk albums of the early to mid-’70s, Act One’s eponymous debut album stands as a testament to all the gritty majesty that Raeford Gerald would bring to his work with Millie Jackson — sharp production, slick instrumentation, and a driving, dirty punchiness that absolutely defines such titles as the vaguely punning “A Whole Lotta Lovemaking,” “Takes Two of Us,” and “Tom the Peeper.” It is that latter, of course, which brought Act One the most attention; a favorite on the British Northern soul circuit, from whence its renown spread to the U.S., it has since turned up on various genre compilations, drawing further fans and collectors into the search for this (admittedly hard-to-find) album. However, “Tom the Peeper”‘s ruthless horns and thunderous gyrations are only the tip of the iceberg, both musically and commercially — two further tracks from the album, “Friends and Lovers” and the aforementioned “Takes Two of Us,” hit the domestic R&B chart during 1973, while “Never Had a Love Like Yours” too, offers an unforgettable highlight. All of which means, record-buyers of the age can scarcely be forgiven for not drawing the album, too, into the commercial spotlight ( Amy Hanson, All Music Guide).