Chapter 8 – Soul Treasures

17 08 2010

Chapter 8’s sophisticated soul pushes all my buttons. Founded by super-producer Michael J Powell and David Washington, the group released three albums between 1979 and 1988, each one of them rammed with rich soul treasures, sophisticated ballads and mid-tempo goodies. Sadly, Chapter 8 never had the breakout hit that took them from cult hero status into the mainstream, despite the presence of eighties soul queen, Anita Baker, as a fully signed up member of the group on their ’79 eponymous release.

The indefatigable Expansion records recently reissued their debut album for the first time on CD, in the UK at least. While the disco-flavoured cuts haven’t matured so well, the ballads shine, particularly the rare groove, Ready For Your Love. This is a monster ballad that sounds surprisingly fresh 31 years after its original release. The Expansion reissue is worth picking up for that cut alone.

While it may not be a stone-cold classic, the self-titled LP certainly showed promise and contained a few genuine soul gems. I’m particularly fond of the modern soul number, Let’s Get Together.

Following the release of their debut album, Ariola dropped Chapter 8. The story goes that the record company told the group that Anita Baker couldn’t sing. What a bunch of numpties! I find it inspirational that Anita Baker subsequently went on to become the female soul voice of the eighties, releasing a series of classic solo albums (Rapture, Giving You The Best I Got and Compositions) helmed by her old Chapter 8 buddy, Michael J Powell.

Chapter 8 regrouped six years later to release their greatest album, This Love’s For Real, on cult label, Beverly Glen (perhaps best known for Bobby Womack’s Poet albums). The epitome of 80s quiet storm soul, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I just adore its romantic ballads and breezy mid-tempo cuts. It’s the kind of album you never put on when your non-soul-music-loving friends pop round. They just wouldn’t understand it, the fools!

Valerie Pinkston joined remaining vocalist Gerald Lyles for the second album, perhaps best known for the legendary ballad, How Can I Get Next To You?

This Love’s For Real is jam packed with goodies. I just love the smooth title track with its wine-bar-soul vibe. It may not immediately hit with all listeners, but, like the best soul music, if you let it marinate, you’ll reap the benefits!

The album also included a few light dancefloor tracks, the best of which just has to be It’s My Turn, a track that could not have been recorded in any other decade but the eighties. It may sound rather unfashionable today, but soul music isn’t about trends, is it?

The group released their final album, Forever, in 1988, this time on Capital, shifting record labels for the last time. It’s a storming slice of eighties soul. The tempo’s up a little compared to This Love’s For Real. It’s a remarkably consistent album but I particularly love Give Me A Chance. It’s a sweetly orchestrated cut with a feel-good, bouncy chorus reminiscent of Make Me Happy by Cooly’s Hot Box.

Chapter 8’s anthemic soul ballads still resonate today and have secured a special place in my heart. Their sound may not be in vogue, but it’s undeniably soulful. You can pick up a copy of Chapter 8’s debut album over at Amazon without breaking the bank. All we need now is CD reissues of This Love’s For Real and Forever. Expansion, we love you, are you listening?




2 responses

19 08 2010

Yep two tracks that I really love: “Let’s Get Together” and “Ready For Your Love”. Oooh and Amazon just have only 5 copies left in stock. Quick!

19 08 2010

Would love to see This Love’s For Real reissued. For me, that’s their classic!

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