LOVE MADNESS – THE ROAD TO THE FREAKY FOUR
By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor – in – Chief and the BASN Staff
PHILADELPHIA (www.basnnewsroom.com) We began our BIG BEG TOURNAMENT on the same premise as the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments casting out our nets with 64 bands/groups spread across the country and the United Kingdom…
Those groups were split into four regions:
The ‘TURN OUT THE LIGHTS’
The “BETWEEN THE SHEETS”
The “DROP DEM DRAWZ!”
The “BUTT -NEKKID NAAASTY”
With the same breakdown of rankings: #1 vs. #16, #2 vs. #15, #3 vs. #14, #4 vs. 13, #5 vs. #12, #6 vs. #11, #7 vs. #10, #8 vs. #9 – with all winners filling in the gaps seed-wise as they survive and advance…you do so by playing at least three ballads – either covers, originals or even instrumentals – in a mini – set no longer than twenty minutes.
Votes were counted by folks contacting our social media sites; group with the most votes moves on.
The time spans of the groups ranged from the 1950s to the 1990s, and all the soul goodness in between!
It all starts “BETWEEN THE SHEETS!”
BETWEEN THE SHEETS ™ DIVISION
#1 THE ISLEY BROTHERS
#2 EARTH, WIND & FIRE
#3 BLUE MAGIC
#4 THE MANHATTANS
#5 THE STYLISTICS
#6 THE MOMENTS
#7 THE SPINNERS
#8 THE WHISPERS
#12 CON FUNK SHUN
#13 THE PERSUADERS/THE THREE DEGREES
#14 THE TEMPREES
#16 SOUL GENERATION
FIRST ROUND #1 Isley Bros. v. #16 Soul Generation
The Isleys went at the 16th ranked Soul Generation with purpose, dropping cuts from the classic dance/romance project, “The Heat Is On.”
The combination of “Living for the Love of You/Sensuality/Make Me Say It Again Girl” resounded in a classically efficient 20 minutes of begging. The Soul Generation, known for their blue light gems “Body and Soul” and “Million Dollars” simply did not have enough ammunition for T-Neck’s best, but still popped in a sweet one to remind everyone why they belonged here…
THE ELEMENTS (EWF – #2) VS. DeBARGE (#15): DeBarge made the best use of their vocal skills, and it sounded like they would clearly make a case, especially after the gospel – themed “Love Me In a Special Way…”
In the time it takes to drop that 2-5-1 chord progression, however, The Elements went to work, dropping their gospel bomb as Maurice White took over…and in one of his rare leads, stole the show, hitting some sevenths and ninth chords like he was drawing into an inside straight a la ‘Casino Royale!’
It was a reminder of just how much material Earth, Wind & Fire could bring to the table!
As Philip Bailey (and Sherry Scott before him) would be the heart of EWF, Maurice White was and will always be its soul.
BLUE MAGIC (#3) VS. THE TEMPREES (#14): This seemed like an issue of “location, location, location” as Philly would clash with Memphis for the first time. The higher ranked Blue Magic did not take The Temprees lightly as they put together a nice mini-set; with one one of their better hits as the cherry on top:
Ted “The Wizard” Mills and company did not treat this as any sideshow. The falsetto tenor dropped some of his own love as The Magic of The Blue – came through.
THE MANHATTANS (#4) VS. THE PERSUADERS (#13): Because the Three Degrees/ Persuaders battle ended in a tie, we gave each an elimination shot. One of several strong groups out of Jersey City, area’s most elegant groups, The Manhattans have two defined chapters to their career; one from lead singer George Smith (1960s – 1970) and Gerald Alston, who took over lead after Smith passed.
Also from the New York City area, the Persuaders were on the grind in 1969, and snagged a deal with Atlantic Records in 1971. Douglas Scott is the voice on this “to – the – bone” red light special:
It seemed, however, the Manhattans longevity and adjustments with two distinct sounds would prove to be the difference:
Regardless of the lead singer, The Manhattans were going to be a tough out –
THE STYLISTICS (#5) vs. CON FUNK SHUN (#12): Growing up watching the sports version of this tournament, it always seemed like in at least one region, a number five seed would/could/did get beat by a number 12 seed – and this tourney was no different!
Under the influence of the magnificent arranger Thom Bell, The Stylistics painted a beautiful portrait with his utilizing an oboe as a backup voice to lead singer Russell Thompkins, Jr. in a very stylized approach to begging.
Con Funk Shun, an amazing ensemble of young men (some who went to high school together in Cali) formed the band in Vallejo and put together a great portfolio of tracks, which found favor with the listeners. I knew of a couple of their tracks but was admittedly not as exposed with a lot of their music. They jumped on it and brought us our first legitimate shocker of the tourney!
MOMENTS (6) VS. BLOODSTONE (11): Two veteran protagonists with formidable aural arsenals, this was a great match – up. Charles Love (who I believe is lead here) kills it as he spirals at the end of this song! Even though “Natural High” is the more well known song; full on swells and coloring make this one beautiful ballad (not bad, Kansas City!)
THE MOMENTS are always super cool; one of the most unique ‘sexy soul’ groups because everyone is a falsetto tenor! Unlike the Bee Gees, who loved to sing in unison during their heyday, The Moments stay in their vocal lanes – their discipline in that regard is exemplary – and they deliver on the kind of mood necessary – to facilitate what we call ‘panty removal.’ (yeah, I said it, dammit – we are talking about BEGGING!)
THE SPINNERS (#7) VS. TAVARES (#10): This was a case of a Soul Stronghold against a remote outpost.
Motown was awash with musical talent, but the New England area comparably had little to offer except LTD in Providence, RI and these five brothers (yes, blood brothers) from New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Much of the success of the Spinners came after inserting Phillippe Wynne as lead. His simple, gospel -tinged vocals changed the groups, making them more commercially viable…
While the Tavares Brothers immersed themselves in soul, they tightened up their vocal game. Although “Check It Out” was a great song which opened the door for them, this number from their first album was ‘wicked good.’
THE WHISPERS (#8) vs. LABELLE (#9): Another group who strove for ‘dancin’ and romancin’ on stage as much as on vinyl, The Whispers always give a great show; but they were up against it when they almost got jacked by Patti Labelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx!
Labelle gave a strong set and provided one of the great lyric lines when they sang:
i come like the pouring rain
each time you call my name
what you’re doin’ watcha doin’
The Whispers recovered from the soul shock of one of the best live acts ever, and made their case:
When the dust cleared, those who survived and advanced were:
The Isley Brothers, Earth, Wind & Fire, Blue Magic, The Manhattans, Con Funk Shun, The Moments, Tavares…and the Whispers.
Next Time: The BEGGING Goes On!
always outnumbered…never outgunned.
Copyright (C) Michael – Louis Ingram 2020 all rights reserved.