As thousands of people made the trek home from SXSW armed with a cadre of musical experiences designed to put them on the cutting edge of what the masses won’t be taking about musically for another 6 months from now, I took a trek back into time. A couple of weeks ago I was record shopping with my favorite producer, who gave me a challenge. He asked me to pick one album from an artist I had never heard of before based solely on the album cover. No advance listening, no Googling of the album or artist. We would take the album home and find out what we’ve got.
Many of our vinyl excursions end up like this and always we’re surprised by what we get.
The album I picked stuck out to me for a few reasons. First off there was so much going on here with the Chairmen of the Board with the Flute, Maracas, blue polyester suits and hexagonal glasses. Then I looked at the back cover and the graphics reminded me of Ellsworth Kelly. So I had a musical hodgepodge featured on the front and cool color blocking on the back. It spoke to all of my creative sensibilities!
“In Session” was produced on Invictus Records in 1970 and was the second album by Chairmen of the Board. Invictus was the first label to first spin-off of Motown and their sound was heavily prominent in this album. The Chairmen of the Board was the label’s marquee group, who had their first album hit with “Give Me Just a Little More Time”, (which was tragically resurrected in a Swiffer ad). “In Session” fused bluesy gritty guitar riffs with classic Motown R&B strings and psychedelic baselines. Turns out this second album produced 4 chart topping singles, but none of them eclipsed the popularity of their first hit single.
I think my favorite song was the “Everything is Tuesday”, with “Hanging On to a Memory” being a close second. I learned much more about Motown and Invictus Records than I had known before, and got an interesting peek into the record industry in the 70’s. There’s a Documentary called “Band of Gold” that gives a deep dive into the industry that spawned Invictus. Interesting stuff. So this album took me on a musical journey that I would never have embarked upon. Trust your creative instincts and take a chance on something you might not normally listen to, you just might be surprised at what you learn.