Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Detroit Emeralds - 1973 - I'm In Love With You

Detroit Emeralds
1973
I'm In Love With You


01. Shake Your Head 3:01
02. So Long 6:03
03. You're Getting A Little Too Smart 3:39
04. I Think Of You 4:25
05. You Control Me 3:28
06. Whatcha Gonna Wear Tomorrow 4:14
07. Heaven Couldn't Be Like That 2:22
08. Without You Baby 1:34
09. I'm In Love With You 6:19
10. My Dreams Have Got The Best Of Me 2:48

Detroit Emeralds Are:
Abrim Tilmon
Ivory Tilmon
James Mitchell

Chapter 8.
Courtlen Hale: Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
David B. Washington: Bass, Backing Vocals
Derek Dirckson: Drums, Percussion, Synthesizer [Syndrums]
Gerald Lyles: Backing Vocals
Michael J. Powell: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Lead Guitar
Valerie Pinkston: Keyboards, Vocals
Van Cephus: Piano [Acoustic, Fender Rhodes], Clavinet, Synthesizer, Strings [Ensemble]
Vernon Fails: Keyboards


The year 1973 turned out to be prolific for the Detroit Emeralds, who released not one but two of what many would consider to be their finest albums since their days on the Ric-Tic imprint during the heydays of Motown.

Although the label Westbound Records was known primarily for the early catalog of Funkadelic and The Ohio Players, one of their most underrated acts came in the form of the trio The Detroit Emeralds. While they seemed like they could have been Michigan natives, in reality, they were from Little Rock, Arkansas. The trio initially started out as a quintet with the Tillmon brothers: Raymond, Cleophus, Ivory and primary songwriter and producer Abram. They recorded a few minor hits, but were downsized to a trio by the turn of the 1970's- with lead singer James Mitchell taking the place of Raymond and Cleophus. Things were looking up for the band when they were signed to Westbound. In 1971, they released their formal debut "Do Me Right", followed by 1972's "You Want It, You Got It". However, their most sought after recording also happens to be their most rare: 1973's "I'm In Love With You"- an album that later became known for having one of the most popular breakbeat used in hip hop and R&B, "You're Getting A Little Too Smart". Despite the album being raided for samples by the likes of Masta Ace, Raekwon, Main Source and J Dilla, there are several great songs on here that are worthy of attention.

They start off the album with the approval seeking "Shake Your Head", while bringing in the six minute breakup lament "So Long". Also included is "You're Getting A Little Too Smart", followed by the eight minute medley "Think Of You/You Control Me". They question their significant other's mood swings on "Whatcha Gonna Wear Tomorrow". They bring in another medley: This time around, it consists of three songs- "Heaven Couldn't Be like This", "Without You Baby" and the title track "I'm In Love With You". Lastly, they close the album out with the brief uptempo "My Dreams Have Got The Best Of Me". 

Detroit Emeralds - 1972 - You Want It You Got It

Detroit Emeralds
1972
You Want It You Got It


01. You Want It, You Got It 2:56
02. There's A Love For Me Somewhere 2:23
03. I'll Never Sail The Sea Again 3:34
04. Take My Love 3:37
05. Feel The Need In Me 3:37
06. I've Got To Move 3:01
07. Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms) 3:46
08. I Bet You Get The One You Love 2:09
09. Till You Decide To Come Home 2:43

Abrim Tilmon
Ivory Tilmon
James Mitchell

Chapter 8.
Courtlen Hale: Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
David B. Washington: Bass, Backing Vocals
Derek Dirckson: Drums, Percussion, Synthesizer [Syndrums]
Gerald Lyles: Backing Vocals
Michael J. Powell: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Lead Guitar
Valerie Pinkston: Keyboards, Vocals
Van Cephus: Piano [Acoustic, Fender Rhodes], Clavinet, Synthesizer, Strings [Ensemble]
Vernon Fails: Keyboards


Formed in 1968 by Abe and Ivory Tillman and James Mitchell, they were actually dropped from Ric Tic after Motown bought out the label and let the band go! Their sound heavily influenced by the mid-60s Motown sound (which is perhaps why that label showed so little interest) kept them in the charts throughout the early '70s. They eventually moved to Atlantic where they recut 'Feel The Need In Me', the new version reaching No 12 in the UK in 1977, and the album "Let's Get Together". Now firmly ensconced on the international cabaret circuit, the band's original hits are more popular than ever in the clubs and through cover versions. A classy slice of early '70s, smooth-harmonied soul.
Good album, but such a high score because it contains one of the greatest soul-funk groovers there is "Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)".  I know it's worth owning for that song alone, but to top that it also contains "Feel The Need In Me".  As if that wasn't enough, it also has a great cover, very of it's day.

Detroit Emeralds - 1971 - Do Me Right

Detroit Emeralds 
1971
Do Me Right


01. Do Me Right 2:47
02. Wear This Ring (With Love) 3:13
03. Long Live The King 3:30
04. What You Gonna Do About Me 3:17
05. You Can't Take This Love For You, From Me 3:12
06. Just Now And Then 3:21
07. Lee 2:48
08. If I Lose Your Love 3:16
09. And I Love Her 3:15
10. I Can't See Myself (Doing Without You) 3:18
11. Holding On 2:42
12. Admit Your Love Is Gone 3:11

Abrim and Ivory Tilmon with James Mitchell

Chapter 8:
Courtlen Hale: Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
David B. Washington: Bass, Backing Vocals
Derek Dirckson: Drums, Percussion, Synthesizer [Syndrums]
Gerald Lyles: Backing Vocals
Michael J. Powell: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Lead Guitar
Valerie Pinkston: Keyboards, Vocals
Van Cephus: Piano [Acoustic, Fender Rhodes], Clavinet, Synthesizer, Strings [Ensemble]
Vernon Fails: Keyboards


In the same year that I felt my soul move, I got a little bit more into soul. I know it is only 2019 as I write this and that the set/setting are one in the same for a time, but I know that there will never be a time of my life that I'm both surrounded by amazing soul music and completely ignorant of what I should be taking away from said music. Do not get me wrong: I am not being willfully unknowing to the LPs and singles and esteemed variations (northern soul, philly soul, chicago soul, southern soul, smooth soul, psychedelic soul, what the shit?), but it hits me like a barrage and in understanding what the context of a life lived with knowing one's soul is like. Most people who hear that you believe in a soul do the ordinary: they assume you are like most people, but forget to account for the fact that this may be a recent discovery of yours. But what reason have you given to indicate that you only felt that soul wiggle at age 22? Maybe the person you are speaking to felt it at 8 and never stopped feeling it. This is the problem of how being in tune with one's self is not enough for people to be compatible in all matters of love. Love is universal but also succinct and in many varieties, and the love I feel from soul music when it has a message for me is beyond incomprehensible to what I know of the English language. I am hoping to know how to do it better with each one of these passing albums.

The Detroit Emeralds do nothing extraordinary, but they also don't tell about the origin of how they got to here in 1971. Much in the way that we cannot blame others for not knowing our insecurities untransmitted, this act hasn't a clue that they could spice things up and get a bit closer to the pineal microphone. It's like they're doing every step of soul music the way they were told and the way it was seen, but really, what essential hit came from Do Me Right with a message that wasn't, "I'll be your man, tonight or tomorrow or whenever." I'm bored of all music like that so it makes it unfortunate that I didn't get into a song like "Wear This Ring (With Love)" in 1998. Being six and thinking about two years after the moon landing? Not I. I think when I was six, my favorite song was... oh good lord, no I'm not admitting that here.

I like this though. I know I usually have a third paragraph assurance of that, but it's the truth on an album like this. I don't appreciate how patriarchal fascinating this record seems to find itself. There's nothing emphatic worth singing about on any of these songs, but they have okay voices.

A gem of a record from the mighty Detroit Emeralds – a group who are really finding a new 70s vibe here, while still holding onto all the rich harmonies they developed on their early singles! The trio work here together with a fluid sound and the kind of harmonies you might have heard from The Impressions a few years before – but they also get a really unique groove that befits their presence on Detroit's legendary Westbound label – a style that's maybe a bit more heady, and sometimes righteous!