Thursday, November 17, 2005

Gene Chandler, Live!

Gene Chandler - Rainbow '65 (Pts. 1 & 2)



One of the elements of gospel music that shaped soul music was the intensity of live performances. The reputation of many gospel groups rested on their ability to "wreck" a church by arousing the emotions of their audiences, especially females. Some of the greatest soul albums find their stars having the same effect on a secular audience. James Brown's famous 1962 album "Live at the Apollo" is one of the best in this regard, and so is Gene Chandler's 1965 album for Constellation, "Live at the Regal."

"Rainbow '65," the live version of his 1963 hit by the same name, was the breakout hit from the album. The intense, Curtis Mayfield-penned ballad is taken to a new level here, as Chandler overcomes the somewhat out-of-tune band to spin a seductive web to capture the screaming girls. Chandler repeats words and phrases, holds falsetto notes, shifts dynamics, and worries every note of song's lyrics to create just under six minutes of pure soul energy.

Arthur Kempner, in his book "Boogaloo," compares this one performance to the live version of "Bring It On Home To Me" from Sam Cooke's "Live at Harlem Square" album and determines Chandler to out-soul Cooke by a wide margin. He does concede that Chandler probably had a home-town advantage at the Regal Theater(unfortunately, on this MP3 there's a skip in the intro by WVON disc jockey Pervis Spann which points out that Chandler was a local boy made good), but I think Kempner's comparison is accurate. Cooke's album is very good, but Sam was not a "house wrecker," whether as a member of the Soul Stirrers or as a solo act. When you listen to "Rainbow '65," however, you can imagine Chandler being down on one knee, tie pulled down, sweating - just being totally soulful.

Chandler is unfortunately only known to most people for "Duke of Earl," but his entire '60s output for Vee Jay, Constellation, Checker and Brunswick presents the work of a Chicago soul master, with "Rainbow '65" leading the way.

1 comment:

r0udy said...

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