Shades Of Brown ‎– 1970 – S.O.B.

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Shades of Brown S.O.B. front

A lost nugget from the Chicago soul scene, and one of the rarest 70s albums on Chess! The album’s filled with great tracks in a range of soul styles,  sweet, funky, and Northern Soul,  all wrapped together with a tightness that rivals The Dells or Temptations at their best, and topped with harmony vocals that are simply mindblowing. Producer Bobby Miller really helps the group find their groove and arrangements by Richard Evans and Charles Stepney tie the whole thing together beautifully. All tracks are originals, and completely fresh, the kind of lost soul tunes you’d normally find only by digging through a pile of rare 45s. Sampled famously by Tribe Called Quest and many others.

A stirring slice of early `70s Chicago sweet soul that harks even further back to the Impressions and the Dells, Shades Of Brown has long been a favorite of soul fanatics.

The lead single, “The Soil I Tilled For You“, features a booming breakbeat that has been sampled repeatedly over the years, but this album, which features arrangements by Richard Evans and the legendary Charles Stepney, is remarkably consistent as a whole, and is indeed one of the finest psychedelic soul LPs of the early `70s. 

Tracks
A1. Lite Y’all Up (3:58)
A2. Lie #2 (4:04)
A3. He Didn’t Leave Me a Name (2:56)
A4. Little Girl (1:58)
A5. Ho-Hum World (3:20)
B1. Man’s Worst Enemy (3:01)
B2. Girl, I’m Coming Home (3:12)
B3. Falling In Love Too Hard (3:16)
B4. The Soil I Tilled For You (3:23)
B5. Garbage Man (3:37)

Shades of Brown S.O.B. back

AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek 

Chicago’s Cadet Records was going great guns in 1970. Groups like the Dells, Rotary Connection, and the Ramsey Lewis Trio were all hitting the regional and national charts. Into this hotbed of talent entered a new group made up of early twenty-something males from the Altgeld Gardens projects (the same locale that had given birth to numerous Chicago soul acts such as the Norfleet Brothers, Patti & the Lovelites, and The Debonaires to name just three).

Billy Davis, A&R man from Cadet’s parent company Chess, signed the Shades of Brown after their initial deal with ABC fell through. Producer Bobby Miller, who’d been working with the label’s premier vocal group the Dells, was brought in and he brought his house arrangers Charles Stepney, and Richard Evans, and numerous instrumentalists (including Phil Upchurch, Gene Barge, and Morris Jennings) to help fill out the group’s sound — the four vocalists were backed by a smoking instrumental trio on guitar, bass, and drums. The end result is S.O.B., one of the great forgotten slabs in Cadet’s history.

Shades of Brown S.O.B. label 1

These ten cuts are drenched in the trademark sound of crooning, harmony vocal Chicago soul just as it met the harder driving psychedelic rave-up soul and funk that Motown was beginning to engage with the Temptations and the Four Tops and the highly conceptual vocal group sound of Philly soul. An example of the former is in the glorious “Little Girl“, where the elegant vocal harmonies are drenched in strings and dramatic tom-toms. Check the furious tempo on “He Didn’t Leave Me a Name“, with its socially conscious lyrics.

The big end horn section on “Man’s Worst Enemy“, countered with a huge, clear rolling bassline, is high-class uptown soul at its best. The swirling B-3 and low-end strings on “Girl I’m Coming Home” get close to the Dellsand Temptations in terms of tightly arranged emotion and sung harmonies.

Falling in Love Too Hard” has one of the most ingenious uses of conga drums ever employed on a soul record west of Harlem. That said, any group tracks on this set could be interchanged with them — meaning, of course, that this is a stone classic.

 

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20 Comments
  • Xwoman
    Posted at 13:24h, 20 March 2016 Reply

    at last!!
    thanks a bunch, you’re the man for anotha time!

  • Derek
    Posted at 00:25h, 21 March 2016 Reply

    Thanks guys, never heard this before. so looking forward to it a lot!

  • Baris6
    Posted at 10:35h, 21 March 2016 Reply

    Excellent post! Always wanted to listen to this joint…thank you very much!

  • Grumpy
    Posted at 13:52h, 21 March 2016 Reply

    Sounds intriguing, thanks!

  • Zozo
    Posted at 18:53h, 21 March 2016 Reply

    Excellent stuff man. Thank you for sharing.

  • rich
    Posted at 20:04h, 21 March 2016 Reply

    great post nikos! thank u

  • Clark
    Posted at 10:23h, 22 March 2016 Reply

    Excellent stuff! i am so grateful.

  • amandeus
    Posted at 10:31h, 22 March 2016 Reply

    Your work is appreciated, thanks for all the dope posts & exposing people to some classic music. Salute!

  • Soulover
    Posted at 20:10h, 22 March 2016 Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing it with the community – with such albums it really important not to allow the music to get lost but keeping it alive and known!

  • Oswaldo
    Posted at 10:47h, 23 March 2016 Reply

    Wonderful. thanks.

  • Taylor
    Posted at 14:25h, 23 March 2016 Reply

    Another great post. Than u.

  • jose da silva
    Posted at 21:28h, 23 March 2016 Reply

    Meravigliosa

  • B Lalana
    Posted at 10:04h, 24 March 2016 Reply

    Damn, the memories!! I have the original vynil to this and many others. I remember buying this record.

  • John G
    Posted at 11:18h, 25 March 2016 Reply

    I’m a product of the 70s as a teenager.. Weather Report, Roy Ayers, Grover, Stanley Clarke etc.. This takes me home!!

  • Scott
    Posted at 11:13h, 26 March 2016 Reply

    Always appreciated when you’re schoolin me on artists I didn’t know anything about.

  • MCJ
    Posted at 18:38h, 27 March 2016 Reply

    Dope as fuck.

  • Jeff Davis
    Posted at 09:56h, 28 March 2016 Reply

    Sterling work, as always. thank you!

  • Angela
    Posted at 21:27h, 28 March 2016 Reply

    Linda música, ameiiiiiiiiiiii!

  • Jimmy
    Posted at 10:29h, 02 April 2016 Reply

    Oh Coolness!!!

  • RossB
    Posted at 12:11h, 04 April 2016 Reply

    A Splendid find…
    Thanks for putting it up here…

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