The Chi-lites – 1972 – A Lonely Man
Intro Review by AMG Main Review by RDTEN1
Rip, Research, Posting and additional info’s by Nikos
Behind the talents of Eugene Record, the Chi-Lites presented an impeccable album featuring one gem after another. Not losing any steam from their previous album, the Chi-Lites plugged another number one song, the universally appealing “Oh Girl,” which also claimed the number one spot on the pop charts. “Coldest Days of My Life” came with a placid arrangement and peaked at number eight, and “Lonely Man” was a humble extension of “Have You Seen Her“. From the testimonial “Living in the Footsteps of Another Man” to the mid-tempo “Being in Love” to the ballad “Love Is“, the Chi-Lites were flawless with this effort. Record is masterful with his articulation of the lyric; he stays in control of his vocals. His penmanship is phenomenal and his production skills are irreproachable. The only socially charged number is a remake of the Marvin Gaye classic “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)“, and it’s done with skillful execution.
A1 Oh Girl 3:48
A2 Living In The Footsteps Of Another Man 2:57
A3 Love Is 4:41
A4 Being In Love 3:56
A5 A Lonely Man 6:23
B1 The Man & The Woman (The Boy & The Girl) 4:02
B2 Ain’t Too Much Of Nothin’ 3:31
B3 Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) 5:06
B4 The Coldest Days Of My Life 8:30
In spite of the throwaway cover art, 1972’s “A Lonely Man” stood as the classic Chi-Lites album. Showcasing Eugene Record as chief songwriter, featured singer, and producer, early 1970s soul simply didn’t get much better than this. Critics tend to point to “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To the People” as their creative zenith, but my money would go on this one. Musically the two albums weren’t all that different, but to my ears this one was actually more consistent and song-for-song this one had a higher batting average. Record and company were in full stride here – three hits, including a number one pop and R&B, and at least as many selections that could have been hits had Brunswick taken the time and effort to push them. While Record’s material was uniformly entertaining, the most interesting performances came in the form of the two covers – ‘Living In the Footsteps of Another Man’ and a killer cover of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)‘.
– If you had to pick one Chi-Lites tune for your iPod, “Oh Girl” would be the one I’d recommend. This one set the standard for virtually everything that was to follow – beautiful melody, heartbreaking lyric, lonesome harmonica, and angelic harmonies. One of those songs that got into your head and you simply couldn’t shake loose. Easy to see why Brunswick released it as a single.
– ‘Living In the Footsteps of Another Man‘ was a Chi-Lites rarity in a number of respects. One of two covers on the album, it was also one of the few true up-tempo numbers they recorded. The latter was somewhat unfortunate since they were great on those upbeat numbers. Kudos for taking on a sensitive lyric such as this one.
– To be honest, ‘Love Is‘ was a mess. It started out promisingly enough with a tasty acapella introduction and then just kind of disappeared into an MOR ballad without much in the way of melody or direction. The only song on the album that was thoroughly forgettable. rating:
– Co-written by Record and wife Barbara Acklin, ‘Being In Love‘ started out with a nifty guitar and harpsichord (?) riff and then morphed into a surprisingly soulful mid-tempo number. The breezy melody served as the perfect setting for one of their nicest performances. This is another one that would have made a good single (better than the title track).
– Personally I’ve never been a big fan of the spoken word vamps Record seemed to favor. It was a ploy that certainly didn’t help ‘A Lonely Man‘ very much. The fact that the song was a transparent re-write of ‘Have You Seen Her’ wasn’t a big selling point. ‘Course that didn’t stop Brunswick from releasing it as a single, or the public for turning it into a pop and R&B hit.
– Side two was interesting in that it was more soulful than your typical Chi-Lites song. ” The Man & The Woman (The Boy & The Girl)” actually could have been mistaken for a Motown groove. I think Thompson handled the lead vocal on this one. The song also sported a great fuzz guitar section.
– ‘Ain’t Too Much of Nothin” ‘ was one of those beautiful melodies that Record seemed to effortlessly toss out. On any other album this one would have been a standout performance, but here it was just an also-ran
– I’ve said it elsewhere, but along with Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, Eugene Record was one of the few people who could write social commentary that didn’t come off as being strident and bombastic. That made the decision to cover Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)‘ all the more interesting. While this version doesn’t stray too far from Gaye’s original., the group dynamic makes it worth hearing. Nice though it couldn’t match Gaye’s performance.
– Breakup songs are a dime a dozen, but few are as stark, or stunning as ‘The Coldest Days of My Life‘. This one deserves to be on any top-10 break-up list. It’s simple not a song you should listen to if you’ve recently undergone a breakup. Devastating and it went on for an unheard of eight minutes.
Brunswick released three 45s off of the LP:
– 1972’s ‘Oh Girl’ b/w ‘Being In Love’ (Brunswick catalog number 55471) # 1 pop; # 1 R&B
– 1972’s ‘The Coldest Days Of My Life” (Parts 1 and 2) (Brunswick catalog number 55478) # 47 pop # 8 R&B
– 1972’s ‘A Lonely Man’ b/w ‘The Man & the Woman’ (Brunswick catalog number 55483) # 57 pop; # 26 R&B
All hyperbole aside, anyone fan of ’70s soul needs to own this album.