Archie Whitewater - 1970 – Archie Whitewater
A Cadet gem!
Smooth, laid-back, soulful jazz-rock, similar to contemporaries like Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Ballin’ Jack.
Forgotten by the failing Chess / Cadet Concept label their album languished in limbo and was released to little fanfare. The band was signed during the early 70s horn rock craze, but their sound was much more complex and seductive. Their 1970 debut fused jazz, soul, rock, funk, and psychedelic shrink wrapped with a warm aura.
It is filled with many standout cuts, from the frantic guitar and horns of “Home Again“, to the powerhouse instrumental “Hulk“. The album’s center-piece however, is the mellow ballad “Cross Country“, famous among crate-digging circles as it has frequently been sampled into hip-hop tracks by Akinyele, DJ Premier and Common to name a few.
A1 Don’t Be Short 2:07
A2 Northstar 4:19
A3 Mist Of The Early Morning 3:53
A4 Life Is A River 3:50
A5 Friends And Neighbors 3:50
A6 Country To The City 4:28
B1 Home Again 4:07
B2 Cross Country 3:20
B3 Lament For The Walking Dead 4:34
B4 Seacost 3:58
B5 Hulk 1:58
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
Archie Whitewater was not a person, but an eight-member band, none of whom were named Archie Whitewater. Their sole and self-titled album attracted little notice on its 1970 release, in part because it was recorded for the Cadet/Concept subsidiary of Chess, which was nearing the end of its time as an active label of consequence.
Though it’s sometimes categorized as jazz-rock or horn rock, and there’s some validity to those tags, in fact it’s more of a laid-back blend of soul, jazz, and a little rock and pop than most early jazz-rock albums. Refreshingly, it’s not nearly as bombastic as some of the material by the most famous bands in the vocal jazz-rock genre, instead sounding relaxed and fluid without getting boring or too mellow.
While the songs (all original, with keyboardist Bob Berkowitz doing the bulk of the writing) aren’t too special and lack the hooks of Chicago or Blood, Sweat & Tears, they offer pleasing genre-crossing grooves. The high-pitched male singing on “Northstar” and the ballad “Life Is a River” in particular project a nice fluttering quality, and “Mist of the Early Morning” has a cool effervescent loping feel, especially when it goes into a vibes break. Though it fits only loosely into the jazz-rock designation, this is recommended to collectors of the style looking for something obscure and a little different, with some of the more low-key cuts in particular suited for reflective late-night listening with a muted warm glow. The 2011 reissue on RPM adds good historical liner notes.