The Montclairs – 1972 – Dreaming Out Of Season
R&B/Soul bands were a dime a dozen in the early 70s.
For every Dells and Temptations, there was hundreds of groups knocking on the doors of record labels trying to get in the door. Many of them got a break and contributed a few releases, but the East St-Louis group The Montclairs were different and in a league of their own.
First of all they were led by a singular talent, Phil Perry, whose incredible range and powerful voice should have been noticed by a major label earlier and who later had a succesful recording career. They also had their own style, with almost doo-wop harmonies laid over complex arrangements and songs of lament that were suprisingly melodic and charged in emotion. Finally they released a full length LP, which is quite a feat for an unknown group of the times, especially hailing form St-Louis.
A1 Prelude to a Heartbreak 4:24
A2 Do I Stand a Chance 8:37
A3 Dreaming’s Out of Season 3:13
B1 Make Up for Lost Time 4:28
B2 Beggin’ Is Hard to Do 4:52
B3 Unwanted Love 3:47
B4 Grand Finale 4:39
Review by DJ Asma
Dreaming Out of Season ranks up there with the great LPs of the era and should have done much better sales based on the strength of the two singles: Begging is Hard to Do & Dreaming Out of Season. The tracks perfectly represent what The Montclairs brought to the table with their rich harmonic sweeps and powerful string arrangements. I was hooked on these two tracks and bought the 45s, but when I had the chance to purchase the full album I quickly sold them and got to discover my favorite Montclairs piece that reached an even higher echelon of soul perfection.
Do I Stand a Chance is an ambitious 8 minute ballad that is absolutely stunning. Right from the start of the charged up introduction, Perry’s falsetto leads the way with strong storytelling lyrics to follow. The stellar arrangements (sampled by Alchemist) go from devastating stacattos that ask a question to mellow bongo led persuasive strums that perfectly complements the group’s delivery. It all culminates into a whirlwind of the most complex and beautiful harmonization I’ve heard in Soul music that stretches out for the remainder of the song and completely transforms and uplifts this monster track.
All Music Guide got it right, “The Montclairs recorded some fine heartache ballads in the early ’70s that deserved better fates than they got”. Give the album a spin and you will cherish this obsucre soul gem for years to come. You might find yourself getting over heartbreaks or simply shouting the falsetto at the top of your lungs, as I guarantee these songs will be stuck in your head for a while.
So many angles here, where do we begin? Let’s begin with Phil Perry, since it’s where he had his first claim to local fame. The Montclairs, an East St. Louis soul vocal group had their debut in 1969 on Arch records. By the 70s Phil’s sweet soul tenor led the way on the group’s various singles and the one and only album (“Dreaming Out Of Season“) release while recording for the Paula label. For whatever reason a number of killer ballads failed to get the necessary airplay from soul radio stations nationwide in the 70s, thus their songs failed to crack top 30. Soul record collectors however gobled up any mint copies they could lay their hands on, to date the lp remains a collectible item. Seems destiny had it all along that the wonderful voice of Phil Perry was destined to carry on, right through today. After the group folded, he and fellow Montclair member Kevin Sanlin continued recording, as a duo (Perry And Sanlin).
They recorded two albums in the early eighties, both quality, loaded with ballads, highly sought after by collectors, and pricey enough lps, when located. To date, the two lps have yet to seen cd daylight . “Love Is Like A Statue” remains one of the writer’s all-time 80s ballad classics. This cd loaded with high tenor ballads, is the reissue of the one and only Paula album, it appears out of print already, and commanding supply/demand numbers when offered for sale. Japan’s P-Vine label originally reissued the lp on cd in the early 90s in Japan, that cd was not on U.S. distribution supply routes. Also, and more unfortunate, because it also no longer appears on the radar screeen is the late 90s 2-CD titled “The Montclairs, “Dreaming Out Of Season: The Paula Recordings“, import release, encompassing the album on the 1st cd, and all the non-album 45s (A&B sides) Paula recordings, in one shot. This disappeared so quickly it’s an example of “Here today, gone today”! Another of many reasons when it comes to reissued classics on cd, it’s time to buy when they first appear.
Must remind, “if you’re slow….” Goes without saying, The Montclairs are a must in an old school soul/sweet soul music collection.