Origine du Groupe : North America
Style : Soul
Sortie : 1975
By Joe Tangari from http://pitchfork.com
Buried somewhere down in the footnotes of the story of Stax Records is 24-Carat Black, one of the final acts to record for the label before it crumpled under the weight of debt and ceased to be in 1975. Their lone album, Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth, is a soul obscurity revered by DJs and a certain stripe of crate digger. It was an expensive record to make, and it's safe to say it didn't recoup, flopping big time on its release in 1973. One wonders if anyone, including the band's leader, Dale Warren, expected it to succeed. It's a desolate, bleak concept record about ghetto life with virtually no pop moves and plenty of sermonizing about socio-economics. Not a recipe for chart-busting.
There's something very of its time about 24-Carat Black. They were a kind of loose collective in the early 1970s, a moment when the Civil Rights movement had achieved most of its tangible goals and had to contend with harder things than laws, like ingrained prejudice and systemic inequality. Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth was a record that spoke to the moment, but unfortunately spoke to almost no one. Even as Stax foundered and his record disappeared without a trace, Warren kept the band going, recording with two different lineups (one with 13 members, the second with 14 members) for the next couple of years in an attempt to craft a suitable follow-up. He made about 20 recordings, of which only six survive today-- the Numero Group guys found them by accident, cleaned them up and sequenced them like a 24-Carat Black sophomore album that never was.
From the 37 minutes of music here, Warren seems unperturbed by the first LP's commercial demise. He's moved on from the ghetto narratives and songs of struggle on Misfortune's Wealth, dipping back to reinvent a few songs he'd written for other Stax acts in the 60s and moving forward with new ones built around romantic relationships. Here he's exploring desire and heartbreak with the same ear for lonely desperation, fluid arrangements and restraint that he showed on the band's album. It grooves, but not in a dancefloor sense-- "I Don't Love You" has a funk-spiked jazz underpinning, with lots of lead sax to back Princess Hearn's chilly soul wail. He brings the easy soul groove of "I'll Never Let You Go" to a simmering climax, only to drop the rhythm for the cooing, oohing, aahing breakdown, supplying what could have been a gooey sex jam with a cold, minimal backing. It's totally counterintuitive, but it works. The singer is sultry and desirous, but also possessive and demanding-- a valediction of the fact that love gone bad can still feel uncannily good.
Love's just gone bad on "I Want to Make Up", a desolate duet of sorts that finds the female singer sparring with a spoken male vocalist who coldly dismisses her, walking out as the song ends, leaving her with just a few spectral harmonies for company. "The Best of Good Love Gone" is nearly a straightforward 70s soul song, with Jamerson-style bass and great, subtle drumming, but it cops a lot from jazz and psychedelia, taking on a character of its own that's clearly 70s, but has aged quite well. The epic closer, "I Begin to Weep", opens with funky choral grandeur, but collapses in a heap seven minutes in, leaving vocalist Robert Dunson to wander through a landscape of droning organ, whispering and mumbling to himself as drums call out into the emptiness with repeated patterns.
Warren's music could be high-concept, but unlike 24-Carat Black's one true album, this stuff is approachable on a purely emotional level. In some senses, Gone: The Promises of Yesterday bests Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth, but the two records are ultimately too dissimilar for a direct comparison to be of much use, especially considering how few people have actually heard Misfortune's Wealth. As a sort of long-delayed follow-up, this disc delivers easily, and it's bound to please fans of early-70s conscious soul-- think Isaac Hayes, Boscoe, the Pharaohs, Black Renaissance, and even the Temptations to get your bearings. Then dive into the singular musical world of Dale Warren. It's an interesting place, even after all those years of moldering in the basement.
01. Best of Good Love Gone 5:40
02. I Want to Make Up 6:39
03. I Don't Love You 2:17
04. I'll Never Let You Go 5:11
05. Gone the Promises of Yesterday 5:57
06. I Begin to Weep 11:49