The Ebonys – 1973 – The Ebonys
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A Soul Diamond.
Rotary Connection funs will love this one.
The Ebonys didn’t have nearly as many chart successes as its peers, leading it to release only two albums before disbanding in 1976. The better of these was the group’s self-titled debut, the only collection it recorded for Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International. Released in 1973, the album was largely a hit-and-miss affair, though its highs rivaled those of the premier Philly Soul outfits. It’s Forever easily could have become mired in its overwrought orchestrations and saccharine lyrics, but instead the ensemble lifted the song out of the muck with an impassioned vocal performance that was pure magic. Likewise, Life in the Country explored some intriguing grooves courtesy of backing band MFSB — the same group behind The O’Jays’ Ship Ahoy and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ Wake Up Everybody. Elsewhere, I’m So Glad I’m Me was a masterful piece of Motown-influenced pop, while both Hook Up and Get Down and Sexy Ways carried a grittier feel than most.
1. Hook Up And Get Down
2. It’s Forever
3. Life In The Country
4. Sexy Ways
5. I’m So Glad I’m Me
6. I’ll Try
7. Nation Time
8. I Believe
9. You’re The Reason Why
Even though their vocal ability was as good as many, if not supreme, this Camden, NJ-based vocal quartet did not threaten the chart action of any of their competitors. This album is, however, home to the Ebonys’ most popular single, “It’s Forever.” With its serene intro, the foursome harmonize their way to the verse where the lead vocals, both baritone and falsetto, bring enhancing deliveries to an already outstanding track. The single peaked at number 14 on the R&B charts after 13 weeks. The second single was “I Believe.” Originally a pop hit for Frankie Laine in 1953, the Ebonys’ version retains some of that pop texture. However, the group’s vocal explosiveness leaves a lasting R&B impression. After 13 weeks, the song reached number 34 on the charts. “Life in the Country” was the third single — a moderately paced ballad reminiscent of early Stylistics, who were emerging around the same time this album was released. While this album is balanced with moderate grooves, the aforementioned ballads, and the unreleased “I’ll Try,” stand out. The production work of Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huffand their colleagues is outstanding.
Another ’70s soul group whose commercial track record doesn’t do its music justice, the Ebonys made gripping, dramatic ballads that no soul fan undervalues. On the Philadelphia International label during an era when they routinely cranked out transcendent, genre-smashing hits, this New Jersey vocal group started in 1968. Jenny Holmes, David Beasley, James Tuten, and Clarence Vaughan formed the lineup, and Leon Huff discovered them. They scored their first hit with “You’re the Reason Why,” a number ten R&B single in 1971. Their greatest song, “It’s Forever,” appeared in 1973; it only reached number 14. That was their last hit; their other Philadelphia International singles were often nicely done, but commercial flops.
Get their album “Sing About Life” here.