Chicago Gangsters – 1975 – I Choose You (Blind Over You)
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We have the pleasure of introducing the debut by the Chicago Gangsters, “I Choose You” on the Gold Plate label. This was also issued as “Blind Over You”, possibly re-named to capitalise on the minor success of ‘I Choose You’ on the Billboard Black Music Charts (utilising the same cover model as their sophomore set). Either way, we have a choice delicacy that will please sweet soul and funk lovers alike. Of course, ‘Gangster Boogie’ has been lifted for several samples on the hip-hop scene, but this is certainly no one track wonder. The quartet followed up this goodie with the similarly styled “Gangster Love” delivering once again a shrewd mixture of ballads and funk numbers, which can be found here. Their final release as simply The Gangsters was released in 1979 on Heat, “Life Is Not Easy”.
This is a vinyl rip (supplied by Nikos) of the original LP including covers.
A1. Blind Over you 302
A2. I Choose You 8.36
A3. Your Self-Conscious Mind 3.01
A4. Don’t Be Gone 3.06
B1. Gangster Boogie 5.22
B2. Why Did You Do It 3.50
B3. We’ve Been Together 3.33
B4. Let Me Go 2.44
B5. My Ship 3.14
Review by Trakbuv
Roaring Twenties Chicago was riddled with unscrupulous activities, spearheaded by the notorious Chicago Gangsters – with Al Capone probably the most famous of the bunch. In the late 20s, violence was a daily occurrence where 227 gangsters were killed in the space of just 4 years. In honour of this dubious reputation, the Chicago Gangsters burst on the scene in 1975 – soul stylie – with an album cover riddled with machine gun fire. Although originally hailing from Ohio, the brothers McCant – James, Sam, Chris and Leroy – paired up with the Gold Plate label in Chicago for this dream debut album. They hooked up with several high calibre musicians like Phil Upchurch and the busy songwriter/arranger/bassist Richard Evans giving the LP a rich, confident aroma. The album was produced by‘Mac & Mac’ which I will assume to be two of the brothers in the absence of any information. This being so, 6 of the 9 tracks came from within the band demonstrating that the outfit were talented both in front and behind the mic.
The LP decides to take Willie Hutch’s ‘I Choose You’ and make an 8 and a half minute epic centrepiece for the album. With a shuffling instrumental intro that is delicately spiced with Tennyson Stephens’ ivories and Phil’s guitar licks, a warm rap and probably the best vocals on the platter, this really does make that decision an inspired one. Top drawer. And a long sought after track on the rare groove circuit, ‘Blind Over You’ has a much deserved reputation. Again the production is a multi-layered gateaux where the individuals flavours all combine to a lush consistency that is so addictive, with the zest of a female chorus giving that glorious contrast to an adorable ballad. For me, the album could end right there and still be worth its weight in gold. But the guys really treat us to several more exquisite heart pleasers. The falsetto-lead, plaintive ‘We’ve been together’, a Richard Evans original, ever so gently buries the knife such that the subtleness of the pain is there long after the final crescendos. Arguably my favourite track. And the arrangement on ‘Don’t be gone’ reminds me of something The New Birth excelled at – the ballad with a beat. A stunning intro to ‘Let me go’ is somewhat let down by the more ordinary doo-wop approach of the remainder of the song, but still very competent and provides another dimension to the band.
You can probably tell that the core of my enjoyment of this album almost exclusively wallows in the mellow side. However, the funk ain’t forsaken dear readers – how could it – this is 1975 !! ‘Gangster Boogie’ is one of the more memorable tracks (particularly with the rap fraternity) mixing Kool & the Gang chants with a Billy Preston-esque jam to yield a vibrant instrumental. The potential of the fabulous rocking riff intro to ‘Why did you do it’ is never really is met by the remainder of the production, but is another solid funk attack. The funking plodder‘Self-conscious mind’and the brisk ‘My Ship’ both remind me of Norman Whitfield, complete with Temptations-like harmonies. Mmm – nicety.
(GP 1011 LP released under 2 different front covers and titles – However this is the most recognised one)
Yet another album that never left the shores of its native land on release, save for those fortunate few who could afford to trade with their local imports dealer. It’s albums like this that are now a dream come true for those of us outside the USA – maybe a colleague can inform me as to how difficult these LPs were to grab back in the day in the States – I’d be very interested – as I imagine it wasn’t that much easier (Laf ?). Getting to see the cover of such an album is almost as much a revelation as listening to the grooves. There is almost something to be said about the relative unavailability and lack of information of these albums that gave them a mystical quality that is slightly lost in today’s more immediate world.
Listen up the wonderful “I Choose You”