Ultra-High Frequencies: The Chicago Party
During a few months of 1982, The Chicago Party, an uninhibited variety program taped at South Side cultural hub CopHerBox II, was transmitted weekly by WCIU, the original outlet of Don Cornelius' Soul Train. This CD/DVD set from Numero packages segments and performances from the show and combines them with obscure and previously unreleased early-'80s recordings by some of the artists who appeared on it. The acts were obviously up on the latest sounds. Their work, often decked out with squiggling synthesizers, whomping basslines, clamping drums, and group-falsetto refrains, recalls contemporary bands like GQ, Cameo, Heatwave, and Rose Royce. Magnum Force, who scored a charting hit with "Cool Out," are documented here with the earlier "Girl You're Too Cool," a loose and flirty funk jam that is a bike-horn squeeze away from containing every element of Slave's sound. If it had a little more polish and a certain amount of promotion, the sophisticated and rather advanced "Think," from notable session musician and Earth, Wind & Fire associate Rahmlee Davis (the son of unsung bass giant Richard Davis), could have contended with anything on radio. The track that had the highest profile is Yvonne Gage's "Garden of Eve," fully juiced and bumping boogie released on major-label Atlantic that would have been equally at home on post-disco haven Prelude. Others were issued on micro outlets like Arpco, Truth Is!, and Dapper. Merrillville, Indiana's Erect, the same independent that released Alexander O'Neal's early single "Do You Dare" -- as heard on Numero's Purple Snow -- circulated I.N.D.'s Pleasure-able "Into New Dimensions." While none of the inclusions matches what was reaching a broader audience during the era, they'll delight those whose thirst for underground post-disco R&B is unquenchable. As expected, Numero delivers with an image-rich, overwhelmingly detailed booklet.